Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lucky Lizard

I woke up at daybreak on Sunday morning.  In Costa Rica, that happens at about 5:15 or so every day.  A little too early to actually get out of bed. So as I laid there with my eyes open, mindlessly staring at the wall, suddenly I snapped fully awake as I saw a three-inch gecko scurry up the wall.

Three inches is kind of big, so I immediately slammed my fist into Joe’s arm, “There’s a gecko in our room, there’s a gecko in our room! Get up!”  So Joe leapt out of bed, which scared the gecko, and he scurried across the wall and did a belly flop onto the floor.  He continued his sprint and made his way out of our room, only to end up in the guest room.  This wasn’t much better, but I’m not sure how you catch a gecko anyway – it’s not exactly like just squishing a bug – so at this point I was relieved to at least have him out of the room where we sleep. At least he wouldn’t land on my cabeza in the middle of the noche.

Fast forward to Sunday evening.  Getting ready to leave our house for a month, I was making the bed in the guest room, and remembered the gecko.  Oh yeah, there’s a lizard somewhere in here, I thought. (I was wishfully hoping he had been muy inteligente and found his way out of the slats in the window… but I knew better).  Suddenly, he appeared on the wall, only to disappear again a second later.  Darn!  He is in here.  And since we were to have a houseguest stay at our home while we were away, I figured I better get him out. I didn’t want our guest to flip out if Mr. Lizard landed on his head in the middle of the night!  And besides that, we have Fernando, the cat.  And lately, if you remember, he’s become quite the hunter – bringing in two snakes one night in December, and two mice over the past month.  Furthermore, he’d been making some strange noises earlier in the day and I suspected he might have discovered the lizard and might be after him.  All the more reason to capture this small reptile.

So, with Kate as my companion hunter, I grabbed a broom and started the pursuit. I moved out the bed a little to see if he was behind it.  Nope.  Then I moved the cardboard box, our makeshift bedside table, to see if he was inside that.  Nope.  Then I started sweeping the floor to see if I could scare him out of wherever he was hiding.  Suddenly, I looked down in the pile of mostly down feathers and dust I had collected and there was something very small, almost worm-like that caught my eye immediately.  Why was I attracted to this grayish, rope-y object you ask?

Because it was moving. Like flipping around.  Like flipping out.

There was no head.  No legs. No tail.  It was like a little tadpole on my floor trying for its life to swim.  Except it wasn’t a tadpole of course.  My brain went on warp-speed for about three seconds, trying to figure out what the heck it was.  It can’t be a snake…too small…could it be a worm? way, not the right shape…wait, I was trying to hunt for the gecko… not a freaky no-headed, no-legged, no-tailed… WAIT a minute!  It may not have a tail, but it IS one!!

It is the stinkin’ gecko’s tail!!!  Squirming around.  All by itself. 

At this point of course, I was shrieking at the top of my lungs for Joe.  And Kate had run away.

Can anything be creepier than an amputated gecko tail flipping around on its own on the floor in your house?

With Joe now on the scene, the tail was scooped up, the gecko was discovered (yes, he was missing his tail), and the rescue mission was complete (Joe trapped him under a yogurt cup and transferred back to the wild outdoors).

As my heart rate went back to normal, we started putting the pieces together (of the story, not of the lizard): Fernando must have been pursuing Lizzie that afternoon – when we heard him making all that commotion – and instead of catching him, he only got his tail!

Lucky Lizard.


  1. Great story, Jennie. Truly enjoyed reading your post.

  2. OOoooh, that poor gecko! LOL You know, reading your story made me remember what I learned at school, like when I was a little KID, that long ago! This (for obvious reasons) stuck in my mind, I found it very interesting: Geckos will drop their tail when threatened, as their defense mechanism! (And grow their tail back!) I've never seen it happen but reading your story made me want to look it up to see if it is really true.. and it is!! Read more here:
    Another thing I remember but is not mentioned here is that they can only grow their tail back once in their lives. Lets hope your gecko will grow his back and won't be a subject for bullying for too long! LOL
    Looking forward to seeing you guys!

  3. You have a way with words. Loved getting caught up. Keeping you in our prayers for a safe flight and surgery. Would love to see you while you're here. I know you will be busy. Hugs and much love