Sunday, September 29, 2013

One Lucky Lizard!

Yesterday was the Fall version of the Kitt Peak
Star-B-Que - a chance for the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association (TAAA) to get together and picnic in the late afternoon, followed by some observing with our own telescopes in some great skies. The Kitt Peak National Observatory allows us to schedule their picnic area for the event - a great location about 1.5 miles below the mountaintop at about 6300 feet elevation. Over the years we've spotted a variety of local wildlife, and someone spotted this lizard pictured at left, shown at full camera resolution. And while it is normally difficult to catch these guys, this one was easy - somehow he tried to crawl through a short chunk of garden hose and got caught - the right shows the full frame while he wears his self-styled "straight jacket"

It seems like it would be difficult for wildlife to get caught in something like this, but perhaps it is not.  From the edges, it appears that it has been nibbled on, but is difficult to say.  Common knowledge says that cats' whiskers prevent them from sticking their head into anything they can get stuck in until a mean kid pulls or cuts them and they will get stuck.  Regardless, lizards don't have whiskers, so he might have been doomed had we not come along.  I'm thinking that after a couple weeks he might have gotten skinny enough to be able to crawl through, and we've certainly seen lizards around our house that the cats have brought in that might very well have spent weeks or months under dressers.  But this one was definitely stuck, and it was our mission to free him (assume he was male from his bright coloration)!  Someone had a Swiss Army Knife, and you would think that would have been the perfect tool for the purpose, but such was not the case!  The piece of hose had spent considerable time in the sun and was quite hard and brittle, seemingly impervious to our assault.  neither a knife blade or the scissors were up to the job...  Before he reached for the saw blade, I asked him to let me look in the toolbox of my van.

Fortunately I had a variety of tools, including a long needle-nose pliers that I sent up the length of the hose section just to create a small gap between lizard and hose.  I then had a side-cutter for cutting wire that I nibbled up the length of hose, setting him free at last.  Unfortunately as I was wielding tools, I've got no pictures of that operation.  But I was able to grab a couple shots of one very happy (and lucky) lizard before he ran off in the underbrush.  Glad to be of service!

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