House Guest

Posted: May 11, 2007 in Homelessness

About a week ago we wound up with an uninvited houseguest – or more accurately – a tent guest.

I don’t remember where we had been that day but when we returned that evening, there he was just hanging out.

The guest: a small lizard.

He wasn’t inside our tent but he was there nonetheless. Somehow he had managed to crawl up the outside of the tent and get between the tent and the rain fly.  

After I had crawled into the tent I noticed a small white blob in one of upper "corners" on the outer side of the screen and I thought to myself: "What in the world is that?"

As I looked a bit closer I realized that I was looking at the underside of a lizard. I couldn’t figure out how he had gotten there, what he was doing or why he was there in the first place.

Since this homeless person isn’t able to afford a vehicle at this period in time, I knew it wasn’t a Geico advertising ploy trying to get me to buy auto insurance.

I figured that he must’ve crawled there and had somehow managed to get himself stuck in too tight a place and just could get himself back out.

Although I keep saying "he" and "him" I have no idea whether this lizard is male or female. I don’t know that much about lizards. Sure, I’ve seen some of the PBS programs about the larger lizards like Iguanas, Gila Monsters and Komodo Dragons. And I do know that chameleons can change their skin color – but this little guy: I have no clue at all what type of lizard he is.

Anyway, thinking that he was stuck I thought to help him out of his predicament, so I crawled out of the tent, unhooked the rain fly and was about to prod him down, but he took off on his own. No big thing. I thought the whole thing was over and done. Wrong.

The next evening there he was again, in pretty much the same spot. When I looked up I could see the white of his under belly. This time however, I decided it was much too much trouble to remove the rain fly, so I tapped at the screen about an inch away from his tail. He didn’t so much as flinch. So I tapped a little closer. That got his attention. But, all he did was straighten himself out a little and move up slightly toward the dome of the tent. When I tapped the third time, he climb to the top center and I just let him be.

The third day when we returned, there he was again – in the same spot that he had been on the previous two days.

This was getting to be too much. I didn’t want to do anything that would harm or possible kill the little guy. He is a living creature after all – and he does have his own life cycle that needs no interference from me – but I also didn’t want him just hanging out on my tent. It’s not that I’m squeamish about lizards or other types of reptiles, but I did have some concerns about his being there.

First of all, since he managed to climb that high he must have some type of claws and I don’t really want a tent that will end up leaking from a bunch of tiny lizard claw holes. For the second, I’m pretty sure that he has to beckon to the call of nature like the rest of us.

When I bought my tent last July, the packaging had a whole list of features that were part of its selling point. Being resistant to rain was one of them, but I don’t seem to recall being resistant to lizard poop being on the list.

Then, I don’t know if one lizard will attract other lizards. I don’t want to end up with a tent that’s over run by lizards. It would be too much like an Alfred Hitchcock movie or Twilight Zone episode where angry lizards are out for revenge.

Also, I’m not sure what lizards eat. I hope that tent nylon isn’t on the menu. And since this guy is small – only about four inches from nose (snout?) to tip of his tail – I just don’t think that he’s big enough to harm a fly – literally. Plus, I don’t know how long lizards can go without eating. Does he go out each day while I’m gone and hunt or does he wait for something to come by? What if something doesn’t come by? Will he starve to death? I don’t want to wake up some morning and find a dead lizard hanging there. Then there is the question as to how big he’s going to get. Is he full grown or will he get bigger?

I wish he weren’t there – as much for his sake as mine. But he’s there and it looks like he intends to stay. He’s not really bothering anything. The only thing that is really being affected by his presence is my curiosity.

I’ve thought about trying to catch him and transplant him to another location, but since there are some pretty large birds in the area – plus a couple of hawks and one owl that I know of – I’m afraid that he might wind up being someone’s lunch. I’m pretty sure that they wouldn’t mind using him as a quick bite. I don’t want to have that on my conscience.

A thought does occur to me.

There are four construction projects in the general vicinity of where my tent is. Two of them are within about a quarter mile radius. Perhaps the construction damaged or destroyed his hole, or bush, or tree, or rock – or whatever lizards use for their homes – so he’s residentially challenged just like me.

He’s probably just looking for a nice safe and warm spot to live.

Poor little bugger. I know just how he feels.

Okay. He can stay.

Well, at least until he gets back on his feet and can find a place of his own.

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