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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Cream

Southern California is Overrun With Lizards—& It’s Awesome

While my transatlantic move has provided plentiful “big” topics for me to dive into (and I hope will continue to), often it’s the smaller, more subtle differences of a re-rooted life that help offer a more complete picture of what it’s like to move here. So I’m going to introduce some shorter posts alongside my longer rambles. That way, I can share the full wealth of weird, wonderful and plain wrong I come across in this land of endless sunshine.

Today’s post I’d like to dedicate to Southern California’s surplus of small scaly scurriers: lizards. These cute critters are absolutely everywhere—a fact that both surprised and delighted me upon my arrival.

It’s not like I’m a reptile enthusiast or lizard perv, it’s just that seeing them everywhere is really effing cool.

While their numerosity sure helps increase one’s chances of catching a glimpse of one, it’s their favorite hobby that keeps them in view all the time: they bloody love a good sunbathing sesh.

Yep, step outside when the sun is beating down and you’ll find lizards adorning every ledge, wall and curb in your sight.

You can tell how much they enjoy their little tanning appointments. The standard sunbathing lizard stance is: front two feet planted firmly on the ground, back nice and straight and the neck and head arched up. Like a monarch basking in the glory of their followers. Also very similar to the yoga cobra pose.

This lovable, squamous, cold-blooded being is just chilling outside my apartment

And if you look close enough, you’ll see the corners of the mouth bent up—just slightly—giving off a slight sense of smugness. And a massive sense of contentedness.

It’s best to observe from a couple of feet away as, sadly, they startle easily. They kinda tease you, letting you get close—up to a point—before darting under a bush or between a crack in the wall.

After a bit of research, I believe the lizard species I’m likely encountering most frequently is the western fence lizard, commonly found in gardens and yards across Southern California and as far as Mexico and Washington.

These lizards can stop ticks carrying Lyme disease—a protein in the lizard’s blood is able to kill the responsible bacterium. All disease-ridden ticks have to do is have a little feed on some western fence lizard blood and then they’re no longer carriers. That’s pretty nifty.

It's not just outdoor spaces that lizards like to inhabit. Since moving, I’ve encountered just one lizard that’s managed to break into our property, but I know many other households have a much higher lizard B&E rate.

While they love the sun, they also love dark, cool spaces. And often you’ll only find real cool round here inside a temperature-controlled building. If you have a lizard issue and for some reason aren’t happy about sharing your home with these mini dinosaurs, apparently spraying a mixture of hot sauce, pepper and warm water around entry points and corners might do the trick. Because lizards are proper wimps when it comes to spicy food.

Of all the little quirks of living in Southern California, seeing a plethora of lounging lizards—the less slimy kind—while on an afternoon walk is up there with the most enchanting. Now the temperatures have dropped a little, I might start taking a leaf from my lizard friends’ book and take some time out in the sun.


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