A Discovery in My Backyard Wilderness

During a recent storm, the ancient, huge prickly pear cactus behind our backyard shed collapsed. Fortunately, with my holiday break from teaching, I had plenty of time to complete the cleanup. Just yesterday, I finished the chore by raking up the cactus, leaf, and trash litter that had collected behind the shed. Just beyond the tip of the shovel I was using to pick up the debris, a flash of movement caught my attention. I had to look closely to find the small, camouflaged creature who had just barely escaped the metal blade: a Mediterranean house gecko!


Studying the gecko’s pink mottled skin, I began to wonder if I had seen it before, as the tiny baby lizard I had rescued from inside my house just after moving in. Our very first night, walking along the carpeted hallway, I saw movement by the baseboard. But then I had such a difficult time finding what had moved, since its color–unlike that of most insects–was so similar to the carpet’s. The experience was as if a speck of carpet fluff had spontaneously come alive to scurry away from my feet. When it fled into the bathroom, we could see it wasn’t an insect, and we used a glass to trap it and give it closer inspection. We were beholding the most delicately formed lizard with pink transparent skin! Not wanting to give our cats another chance to find it, I took the baby lizard outside to the shelter of a mock orange bush, hoping a bird wouldn’t discover it, either. Finding yesterday’s lizard felt very good, like a promise that this new backyard would continue unfolding secrets of nature that I will always treasure.

Please note: Today’s slideshow contains two images of the gecko. To activate the slideshow, click the “Play” triangle below the picture.

2 thoughts on “A Discovery in My Backyard Wilderness”

  1. I just saw a plain brownish gray lizard in my backyard. The unique thing about this lizard is that it has an erect flap of skin from the head to base of the tail. I’ve never seen one in Texas or anywhere else for that matter. Can anyone shed any light on this lizard?

  2. They sound like Anole lizards. They could be Green or Brown Anoles. They have a “dewlap” which is a flap of skin under the throat that can be extended as a form of communication.

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