One of our cats, Kali, is a ferocious hunter. Mice, birds, bugs – you name it, she has caught it. But this was a first. And that was a big lizard!! I’ve seen her catch little geckos (she usually ends up with just the tail while the gecko speeds off) but nothing near as big as this prehistoric monster.
Fortunately, I have developed a trick to distract Kali from her prey with food, so I can save the hapless bird/grasshopper/reptile. The lizard wasn’t hurt, his skin is thick enough to withstand cat teeth. But he seemed to be in shock and playing dead. They usually run when people approach; I had never seen one in close-up. We call them “hardon”, the English name I think is rock agama.
In the Netherlands, where I grew up, there are practically no reptiles – it’s too cold for them. As a result, I am fascinated by them. I do admit I’m not a great fan of snakes. There are many snakes here, and some of them are very venomous. I don’t have any pictures of snakes, because whenever I see one (not often), it is usually dead or in the process of being killed.
People here are terrified of snakes. And I mean hysterical. I’m not as frightened of them as I should be, probably because I don’t really understand from experience what they can do. I let my kids run barefoot through the grass and climb into all sorts of scary thickets, while other parents are shouting “Snakes..!!” None of my kids have ever been bitten, incidentally. I only know one person who has ever had to be rushed to the hospital because of a venomous snake bite. So it is kind of hard for me to be super snake-vigilant all summer long.
We do occasionally see a snake, which causes great uproar. Fathers rush in with machetes, mothers whisk their kids away. The snake is hunted down. No one pays attention to the Dutch bleeding-heart animal lover bleating: “But why are we killing it..? Can’t we just relocate it..?”
No, snakes are not the most welcome of animals over here. Even I can see the point of not going near them. But there are other types of reptiles, which I absolutely love, like this delightful creature:
I adore chameleons. Whenever I see one, I drop everything just to stand there and watch it for ages. They move so slowly and deliberately, looking in all directions with those mad rolling eyes, holding on to their branch with their funny two-toed feet. They don’t run from people. You can approach them, even pick them up to admire them. When you put them down, they just continue on their way as before. I have never seen them change colour – they are always green. Is it a myth that chameleons change colour..?
Not long ago, I caught a tiny, funny-looking creature in my kichen. I thought it was a worm at first, then it tried to escape using a wavy movement, like a snake. But it had legs!
I was told this strange-looking little thing was a skink, often mistaken for a baby snake but absolutely harmless. The legs are only visible if you look very closely.
But my favourite reptiles must be turtles and tortoises. I love how they are basically living fossils, how they can live longer than a human and how they look like moving rocks. I dream of having a few in the pet zoo, but this is harder than it seems. You need to have special permits, extra health measures in place (salmonella) and they need specialised care.
In the pet zoo of kibbutz Ein HaShofet in the north of Israel, I once encountered this incredible tortoise:
He is 50 years old and absolutely huge! His name is Akum (lop-sided) because of the big depression in his shell where a horse stood on him once. He gets around perfectly fine despite his strange appearance.
We also get geckos, tree frogs and toads. Okay, those last two are amphibians. But I had to mention frogs because of this funny picture:
Tree frog on the window 🙂
And this one:
Gecko on the screen! Cute little guys.
So that was Reptile Rhapsody! Maybe one day I will be able to keep a few. Although maybe not snakes.
Until then, I will just keep on admiring the wild ones!