Lizards in Our Lives

Two recent news articles about lizards focus on these scaly, myth-laden creatures getting up close and personal with humans. We'll consider both, and add a brief moral to the story.

The first is a brief, feel-good narrative about an event many reptile keepers are familiar with: a lizard that had strayed from its human and eventually was happily brought home. The errant chuckwalla, native to desert southwestern US and northern Mexican climes, was variously misidentified at first as a toad (??) and a black water dragon (?). It was discovered in a car park on the island of Guernsey and was finally reunited with its very worried human companion: the poor creature had been missing for six weeks....

The second article is more whimsical: a woman in Bangladesh who discovered a small nest of lizard eggs in an old make-up bag in a closet! The eggs, laid in the "classic" lizard-egg-laying spot of a dark, enclosed space, were probably from an otherwise-unspecified "common house lizard" and were not upsetting to the woman in the least. Like many of those who keep reptiles deliberately, she considers the presence of the scaly creatures a benefit: "They eat my enemy mosquitoes!"

But the article stands out because someone on the woman's social media suggested this might make her "Mother of Dragons," linking the woman's discovery of the clutch of eggs to the TV series Game of Thrones. For those who did not follow the show, the character Daenerys Targaryen was gifted three dragon-egg "children" that she carefully guarded and raised (but which, when grown, behaved like … fire-breathing dragons!)

What your editor takes from these articles is that reptiles—while still considered unusual animals to keep or discover out in the world—are very much present in our lives and our consciousness. The myths and stories that we shape around them—about their kinship with dinosaurs, dragons, and the like—serve to make them more endearingly popular, while still enhancing a mystique of awe and (sadly, sometimes) dread.

RARN welcomes healthy, pragmatic attitudes towards reptiles and amphibians. They aren't for everyone to keep. But in the right circumstances—and particularly for rescued animals that cannot be sent back to the wild—they can be wonderful companions that truly enhance our lives. And that's no myth!