Reptiles among us

After we installed our deer fence here at Pokeberry Pines, Mr. EndlessSeeker thought it would be fun to put a sign by the gate closest to our driveway:

Ever since, he’s been looking for some Velociraptor sculptures to place behind the fence. You know, just to scare the meter reader or would-be thieves or friends that happen by. Ha!

But, we don’t need extinct reptiles to grace our homestead. We’ve got the real, live deal! While we have yet to see our first copperhead on the property (we know they’re around – there’s perfect habitat, and we’ve seen one dead on the road nearby), we have had plenty of sightings of other, smaller reptiles – mostly of the lizard variety.

The most abundant seems to be the five-lined skinks whose blue tails (on the juveniles) make them hard to miss as they scurry under the door frames and siding when we approach. They are voracious insect-eaters, so we welcome them to the homestead, of course.

Recently I came face-to-face with a pair of large Eastern fence lizards in a log pile near the house (a favorite place for them). The face-to-face encounter lasted about 0.4 seconds, since their habit when surprised is to dash for the nearest tree and hide on the opposite side from the intruder (that was me). I really like fence lizards because they have such prominent rough scales and look really reptile-y (that’s not a word!). The pair I saw were big and scaly and very well camouflaged on the tree trunks. More recently, I came across this juvenile fence lizard on our stairs. At just two inches long, it was definitely the cutest thing I saw that day.

Later, while I was picking beans, another juvenile lizard appeared on a bean leaf. It was covered in dirt, but a closer look at its face told me it was a Carolina or Green anole, one of those cool, green lizards that can change its colors – though it is NOT a chameleon. This little guy was also about two inches long.

This morning, I happened upon a beautiful box turtle – not in our yarden, but nearby. These turtles are shy, lumbering, and pretty. Because they are so cute and easy to capture, a lot of kids (and adults) have picked them up during the past few decades to take home as pets (unsuccessfully). As a result of collecting (and automobiles), their populations have declined significantly.

Someday we’ll see that copperhead that I’m sure is hiding down in the rocks by our creek. Hopefully, we’ll see it before it sees us (and we’ll have closed-toed shoes on!). In the meantime, we’ll keep enjoying our little lizard friends that keep the insect populations in check.


  1. I enjoyed the Pokeberry Pines reptile report. I’ve always enjoyed anoles and box turtles. You would have appreciated living in Puerto Rico, where I spent my high school years. Lots of lizard species, including ones that were 2 feet long. Not too long ago I returned for a visit and found the island had been overrun by huge green iguanas, escapees from the pet trade. Imagine those beauties basking on your deck! 😀

    • Oh yes. The escaped iguanas are all over South Florida (where we used to live) now, too. It’s kind of crazy to see such huge lizards hanging around the back yard.

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