When I walked into the lizard community exhibit in the Great Southwest building on Nov. 22, I noticed movements everywhere! Our adult female blue spiny lizard had 12 babies overnight. Blue spiny lizards are one type of lizard that has live young. As they are born, they come out in a little ball and then quickly uncurl and begin to run!
I had the difficult task of trying to catch these quick, tiny lizards. Now, in the lizard community, we have two spiny lizards, a chuckwalla, and 5 gila monsters (venomous)–lots of things to look out for! Not to mention all the trees and branches in the way as I’m trying to catch a lizard that is less than 2 inches long and incredibly quick. They need to be quick because if they were out in the wild there would be many animals that would love a baby spiny lizard as a snack.
As the hunt continued to catch all the babies, many of them would jump on the back of a gila monster. One was even sitting on top of a gila’s head! I had to keep myself from picking them up when they’re that close to a mouth full of venomous drool. I ended up catching 9 that morning, and then two other staff members caught the remaining 3 in the afternoon.
There are a few different reasons we must catch all the babies: first, sometimes other lizards can get hungry and may think the small spinies look tasty. Also because the exhibit is very big and it would be hard to keep a close eye on them to make sure they are all eating and growing up the way they should. It’s also helpful because we have to get into their exhibit at least once or twice a day, and 12 little babies running around are easy to step on! Right now they are in an aquarium together in the back of the Great Southwest building under a special light that will help them to grow strong bones. Take a look!