I like lizards.
I only have a small back garden. When you live in a ground-floor apartment, you don't have much in the way of green, natural space to play with. But still, a tiny backyard is better than nothing. It has a big hedge, a small lawn, and lots of pot plants. I water the pot plants regularly and the lizards love the water on the plants. Lizards have predators, like neighbourhood cats, kookaburras, crows, and butcher birds. If a lizard is smart and knows his onions, he can use my pot plants as camouflage.
In recent times, I have had two major lizards spending time in my backyard. Lenny and Bernie. I am not really sure what their sex is. Maybe Lenny was really a Leni and Bernie could be a Bernadette. But these two lizards had quite separate and distinct personalities.
Lenny was, I think, a type of water dragon. When I last saw him, he was a good half a metre long. He was brash, showy, and adventurous. He frolicked in the open grass. He perched on my brick wall in broad daylight, in full view of potential predators. When my gardener came to mow and trim, Lenny did not hide under the water tank or my back-door ramp. He wanted drama. He ran up my fly wire security door and clung there, not seeming to care that he was fully visible to all around him.
Alas, I fear that Lenny's insouciance was his undoing. Earlier this year, after having been a regular visitor to my yard for many months, he disappeared. I have not seen hide nor hair of him since. I fear he has been taken, turned into lunch by a passing cat or crow. I fear that his liking for publicity and the open spaces has proven his downfall.
Then, a couple of months ago, I found Bernie. I think he is a blue-tongue. About 12 inches long, using the old measurements, he is fat, prettily patterned in stripes – and very, very timid. He roosts either under my water tank or my back-door ramp. I have never seen him out fully in the open. He comes out, sort of, briefly in the early morning to drink the water from my pot plants. Then he goes back into hiding and may not be seen for some days. Not for him cavorting around in the open grass. Not for him sunning himself on my brick wall. I think Bernie is well aware that swanning around in the open, for a small lizard, invites disaster. I think he has learned the First Rule of Lizard Survival:-
A cautious lizard lives longer.
I don't know how long Bernie will remain a resident in my backyard. Perhaps inevitably he will go the same way as Lenny did – whatever that was. A neighbour of mine told me of a blue-tongue that lived in her garage for 10 years. Obviously a fanatical follower of lizard survival rule number one. If Bernie's tenure under my water tank/ramp is anywhere near that long, I will be a happy man.
Bernie, just don't become a show-off lizard like Lenny. Stay discrete and timid. You might live longer and perhaps father (or mother) little Bernies. A litter of blue-tongues amongst my humble pot plants? How delightful.
And isn't it nice that one's backyard can be a haven for smaller forms of wildlife? Even here in the suburbs amongst our urban apartment blocks.