Another Hobby Blog

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sunday was Laundry Day...

It was also, apparently, Find The Lizards day. On Sunday morning, I found this teensy tiny little hatchling lizard in the corner of the bathroom. He was lethargic and non-responsive. He hardly so much as blinked when I picked him up and he looked so helpless and dried out! So I made a little rehabilitation vivarium for him from a plastic take-out food container. I put a damp paper towel in one corner to give him places to hide and be cool and damp. I put a little dish of carrots inside too-- not because he had any chance of eating them, but because they would also help raise the humidity for him. I put a little bottlecap of water inside too, in case he could drink from it.

Then I went outside and sat in the yard to watch all the grownup lizards going about their daily lizardly duties. I asked them what a baby lizard might like to eat, and a few minutes later one of the bigger lizards saw a grub crawling along a rock and pounced on it. yum. Is it possible they understood the question? Either way, I knew to look for little grubs for the baby lizard. :) .. While I was sitting there watching them, one of the little lizards very bravely jumped onto my foot! That made me realize that it would be really neat to get some pictures, so (after the little lizard got bored and wandered off again) I trotted back in to the house for my camera. (I got a few nice lizard pics, but you'll have to wait until I get a chance to upload them.) I found two little grubs for the baby lizard and dropped them in to his temporary home. The next morning he looked much much better! He was alert and active. He hadn't eaten either of the grubs, but he'd recovered from his dehydration, so I took him outside and let him loose in the planter boxes, hoping that he wouldn't become a meal for any of the other larger lizards!

It brings up conflicting feelings, though. On the one hand, I really enjoyed being helpful for the baby lizard and sharing his companionship for the day. :) ... on the other hand, there are no native lizards in Hawaii. All of the lizards that are found here (except for one very very rare skink that may now be extinct) have been fairly recent transplants-- escapees or intentional releases of "pets." The lizards have made a serious impact on Hawaii's ecosystem (as has everything else we non-native humans have introduced; especially tourism, hotels, sunscreen, and plastic bags). Some of the lizards eat bird eggs, decimating the already struggling native bird populations. Even when they don't eat the eggs directly, they can be a source of competition for common food sources and living spaces. .. and this particular baby lizard was one of the brown anoles that are the most aggressive of the newcomers. The brown anoles are thriving to the point of displacing the once-common (but also not native) gecko.

So I'm torn. Should I have helped the baby lizard? should I have left him to his own devices live-or-die? should I have squashed him flat in a hopeless attempt to diminish the invasive lizard population? should I have kept him as a pet and tried to bring him back with me to Seattle, carrying whatever random seeds or bugs or parasites or diseases or fungi he might have on or in him and risked spreading those unknowns to a new environment where *they* might become harmful or invasive?*

So I guess there are two thoughts I bring out of this experience:
1- It's not always possible to know what the "right" course of action would be, and every action (or lack thereof) has numerous possible repercussions. Some of them we can know about and plan for, others may be completely beyond our capacity to see in the moment or even afterward. 2- ecosystems, like the English language, are complex, dynamic systems that change and adapt and respond in sometimes unexpected or even unacceptable ways to the influences of culture and common usage. So for now I'll use the word "snuck" when it suits me, and will help out the occasional dehydrated lizard baby one weekend and weed out invasive plants the next.


*keeping him as a pet and bringing him home was never a real possibility. It's highly illegal for exactly the reasons I mentioned above. Even worse would be bringing one of my own pets in to the state! There are quarantine possibilities for some of the larger, more common pets like dogs and cats... but ethically I'm not sure even they should be here. Especially the cats as they are more likely to be let wander loose to prey on any number of native species.
..but then I couldn't have squashed him flat either.


  • At Thu Aug 28, 09:52:00 PM PDT, Blogger 'Zann said…

    Ah, the anoles are "my" lizards! The last house in which we lived in Florida was a lizard birthing center. They were just everywhere. Once, I found little bits of hatched egg in the baby clothes.
    My blog title came out of my experiences with the lizards back then.
    Your questions - I think it's always good to nurture life....

  • At Mon Aug 08, 12:22:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Games Online said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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