With a title like that, things could only end in tragedy. Last week I found a dead Western Bobtail lizard (Tiliqua rugosa) on my street a couple of houses down from mine. He was in front of the empty block, which would make good bobtail habitat with all those weeds and long grass. He may have been crossing the road because one block is not necessarily the extent of a lizard’s territory or he may have been warming up on that toasty road. My street isn’t so busy and the speed limit is 50km/hr, but people drive faster than that and most drivers aren’t looking out for foot-long lizards on “their” road.
When I saw the dead lizard, his death had only just happened because he wasn’t quite flat and his insides were still glistening. It was the saddest sight.
Last year I was driving along a busy road near my house which borders a bush reserve and I saw a bobtail crossing the road. I slowed and avoided him, but then I wished I had stopped my car in front of him, put on my hazard lights and waited until he got across. He was close to the other side so I’m hoping he made it, but bobtails often don’t. I wish they would stay in the bush reserve or at least stick to the path for their sunning, but of course they don’t notice our fences and arbitrary lines in the sand; and the black bitumen road gets warmer than a pale cement-coloured path.
Last year I blogged about the bobtail who visited my garden a couple of summers ago. I saw him a few times, but when Sheeba the dog saw him, she stood next to him and barked constantly until I intervened. Despite the strawberries in my garden which initially attracted him (lizards love strawberries) I didn’t see him after that. I hope it was the barking that scared him off and not a car that killed him.
The other thing that could have killed a bobtail was the poisonous snail bait I used to use. I now use iron chelate (EDTA complex) snail bait which is only harmful to snails and slugs. The active ingredient is certified as an organic farm input by the UK organic certification body, but NASAA refused to certify it because of a disagreement with the manufacturer over the name of the active ingredient – bureaucracy! Even if a lizard eats a snail poisoned by iron chelate, they’ll be fine. The plentiful snails, slugs and caterpillars entice bobtails into gardens, so if the bobtail had stayed I wouldn’t need snail bait.
photo credit: Bobtail lizard in the Perth suburbs on Flickr by Fred Coles
PS. Thank you to the 10,000 visitors who’ve dropped by my blog. I know that includes repeat visits and clicks between pages, but it’s more than I thought would read my random thoughts during the past year.