I am trying to make friends with skinks. I realized the other day that’s what I’m doing. Skinks, if you’re not familiar with them, are small (about 3″) lizards with shocking blue tails. They are summer lovers, who sunbathe on sidewalks and other hot spots but shy from people and animals, darting beneath rocks, shrubbery, or whatever is at hand if anything approaches. Skittish little guys.
I’m not going to tell you lots of scientific info on the Lifestyle of the Skink because I haven’t looked into it. I *think* they can lose a tail and grow one back. Two years ago one had the misfortune to become caught in a spider web inside my summer screen tent (I had let the spider keep his residence as he wasn’t bothering me and helped keep the flying insect population in check). When I found the poor skink hanging upside down trapped, I was appalled. Surely a little spider didn’t need a whole *skink* for dinner. Could it even take down a skink? I freed it but was surprised to see the skink lost a bit of tail in the bargain. It ran away in a dash.
When I was a child I tried to befriend ants. Yes, that’s the kind of kid I was. We didn’t have pets – not allowed – but as is true of lots of children, I was very interested in animals. Ants weren’t intimidating. However, they were poor candidates for friends.
I’ve tried to be friendly with frogs in the yard. If frogs were hopping all over, making a nuisance of themselves, or doing damage, I’m sure they’d lose their novelty appeal. But I see a frog rarely. Still, frogs don’t seem interested in me one way or the other. Earlier this summer, one sat in the screen tent with me (he was there first) and tongue-zapped passing ants. That was fascinating to watch – I’d probably only seen it on TV before. I encouraged his dining and tried to point out prey to him as my feelings about ants have changed dramatically since childhood. I now suspect there are millions and millions of them residing in the ground beneath my feet, far too many of which apparently would rather be inside with me and my food.
There’s a stretch of sidewalk where I occasionally see skinks. Now that I know they’re there, I pay attention in hopes of seeing one. When I do, I greet it with a hearty “Ooohhhh Lizard!” (Don’t’ ask me why it isn’t “Oooohhh Skink!” I fell into “lizard” and it’s stuck.) Then I might glance around to see if anyone heard me since I am not trying for a reputation as a crackpot. My thinking is that the skinks, or a skink, might become used to me and realize I mean no harm. All I want is to look at them. I don’t want to pet them, pick them up, or take them home. Ok, it could be fun to pet one.
If I stop still in my tracks on seeing one, it might not entirely run away. Recently one ran and tucked itself sideways on the edge of the sidewalk in a crack. I could plainly see it. It was as if it wasn’t too concerned but had to make an effort to appear to be hiding. Just this last week, I felt I made better inroads when a skink ran off the sidewalk but then left his front left paw? foot? appendage? propped up on the edge of the concrete and with his head up above the edge too, appeared to regard me with one eye. We stayed that way for awhile looking at each other till I moved along, saying “I’m leaving now.”