Twelve-year old Michael Watson caught a two-headed blue-tailed lizard behind his grandfather’s house Saturday, April 28. The Heritage Middle School sixth-grader likes to spend time outdoors, catching frogs, turtles and lizards, according to his grandfather James Taylor.
“He’s always piling his pockets full of them,” Taylor said. “I’m always telling him to leave his reptiles outside. But when he brought this one home I told him to bring it inside.”
Taylor and his grandson live on five wooded acres off Mt. Pisgah Road near Ringgold. Taylor said he and his late wife bought the property eight years ago, so their grandchildren had plenty of room to play and explore their natural surroundings.
“I call it ‘Liz’,” Michael said, cradling the lizard in a clear plastic container once used to store leftovers. Asked how he knew what type of lizard it was, he replied, “I looked it up on my phone. It’s a blue-tailed lizard. I can tell by the stripes.”
Michael said he feeds Liz grasshoppers, sugar ants and flies.
Lady, a miniature Pincher and one of Taylor’s three small dogs, tried to knock the jar containing the two-headed lizard off a table. She was reacting like any canine would to the reptile’s sharp movements.
“She’d like to eat him,” Taylor said.
That would not be a good idea, according to e-how.com.
The blue-tailed lizard, a species of skink, is not harmful to people but it’s detachable tail can make pets sick if eaten. The lizard’s tail will break off if grabbed by a predator, such as a cat or dog. If a pet ingests the lizard’s severed tail, it can cause peripheral vestibular disease, or PVD.
PVD affects a cat or dog’s balance and coordination, according to e-how.com. The website describes PVD symptoms:
“Animals may begin to tilt their head in one direction or another, they may roll around on the ground, lose agility and coordination, or their eyes may even begin to twitch from side to side. They may also sit in one place because they’re unsure of their movements and seem unsteady on their feet if they do get up.”
Most PVD symptoms will improve in two to three days according to e-how.com, but the website recommends a cat or dog showing these symptoms be treated by a veterinarian.
Commonly found in the southeastern United States
Of the scientific genus Plestiodon (skinks), of the family Scincidae
The females lay five to10 eggs once a year after spring breeding season
Blue-tailed lizards eat insects, such as flies and grasshoppers
This lizard’s tail can detach when grabbed by a predator, allowing it to escape
The animal can regenerate (re-grow) its tail after an escape
The lizard’s detached tail is toxic to cats and dogs when eaten and can cause Peripheral Vestibular Disease (PVD)