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Forestry, Wildlife and Natural Resource Management > FWNRM Blog > Posts > Lounging lizards and other reptile run-ins

Over the last month my family and I have had several unexpected encounters with reptiles around my home.  About four weeks ago I was at the kitchen sink when a Turkish (Mediterranean) house gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus) dropped from the ceiling and landed on the faucet.  It was promptly scooped up and taken outside.

Then, on his weekly trip to the curb with the garbage, my son deftly stepped over what looked like a juvenile Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis) that was hanging out on our driveway.  It had moved on by the time I got back outside with my phone to take a picture, so unfortunately cannot include one here.

The next week, I was resetting some pavers in my back yard.  When I flipped over one of them I was surprised to find a brown snake (Storeria dekayi ssp.) staring back at me. 

My most recent reptile encounter was last Friday.  I came home from work and found a Northern Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis carolinensis) stretched out with its eyes closed on the toilet paper roll in my bathroom.  I let out a small (ok maybe not so small) yelp of surprise, but the anole didn’t move.  “Is it dead?” I wondered.  I stood there for a minute. Regarding the little green lizard and regaining my composure.  Still, it didn’t move.  “Surely it isn’t dead,” I thought. 

I went to get a shoebox to relocate the lounging lizard.  As I approached to roll it off into the box it lazily opened an eye.  I quickly tilted the anole into to the box and covered it with the lid as it skittered and scurried trying to escape.  It was awake now, and very much alive.  When I opened the box to let it go outside, we were all much happier.  Or at least I was. 

These recent reptile run-ins got me wondering, “Why am I seeing so many around lately, and why are they in my house?”  To answer that question I turned to my friend and colleague, Dr. Jim Armstrong, Extension Specialist and Professor who specializes in human-wildlife interactions.  Here is the advice he gave me.

“Well, Dr. Barlow, you seem to be living in a herpetological wonderland.  Your recent reptile rash is most likely due to the oncoming cooler weather.  While it is difficult to read the mind of a lizard, I would guess they are being attracted by the warmer temperatures inside your house. The snakes, as well, are probably seeking warmer temperatures.  The area under your trashcan is probably a little warmer than the air temperature and the concrete of your driveway is warmer than the air.  As you are well aware, all four of your uninvited guests are harmless and feed on earthworms and insects.  As we move further into the Fall and Winter, the encounters should subside.”

Thanks Dr. Armstrong!  While I am not sure that I want to read the mind of a lizard, at least I now have a better idea of why they are hanging out around my house.  We have a few more weeks where reptiles will be on the move, so we should all use caution when working around our homes (like moving garbage cans, pavers, firewood or other items that have not been moved in a while).  Consider investing in weather stripping or caulk to install around doors and windows to help keep out unwanted wildlife visitors.  Want to know more?  You can check out this Alabama Cooperative Extension System publication Urban Wildlife Encounters https://store.aces.edu/ItemDetail.aspx?ProductID=17928&SeriesCode=&CategoryID=&Keyword=wildlife for more information.  


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