A variety of mysterious reptilian creatures are spotted in our backyard. This article can act as a mini-guide to know these beautiful visitors more closely. Read till the end, if you don’t want to miss the opportunity to know some fun facts, advantages, and disadvantages about the creatures you share the space with. The most frequent visitor in our backyard is a lizard.
There are so many exciting things to know about these creatures, as the variety of their shape, size, color, and pattern make them unique reptiles. There are more than 4000 species of lizards, and most of them are familiar to your backyard, isn’t that fascinating? Let’s get to know more about lizards and other reptilian visitors in your yard one question at a time.
One may say garden skink is the most common yard lizard; some of the other common lizards in the backyard are Land mullet, Chameleons, Geekota, Iguanas, and so on. There are some rare lizards, like legless lizards, Komodo dragon (very rare), and race runners, to name a few, which can be seen in your backyard only if you live near their specific habitat.
What do Backyard Lizards Eat?
Most of the lizard’s appetite is what humans consider as pests, and because of what they consume, lizards are an essential part of the food web. A lot of what a lizard eats depends on its size. Generally, a male lizard is more significant than a female. Ordinarily, a yard lizard grows up to 4-8 inches or 10-30 cm, but sometimes you can find a lizard larger than 10 inches. But there exist lizards as giant as 10 feet, like Komodo dragon, though not in your backyard, they do exist.
Most commonly, lizards consume secondary pest, and hence they are welcomed in most yards. Caroline anole and panther chameleons readily eat roaches, flies and many other insects. And the most common skinks love eating spiders, beetles and so on. It will be unnecessarily long and boring to explain the appetite of each species.
All you need to know is mostly they eat crickets, moths, wasps, mosquitos, grasshoppers, ants, slugs, earwigs, grubs, maggots, slaters, ants, caterpillars, centipedes, sometimes scorpions, and other insects and beings smaller than themselves. Some herbivore lizards like desert iguana feed on scrubs, especially creosote bush. Some lizards also eat small fruit and berries.
Lizard’s appetite sometimes may include things that are not so much appreciated by the resident. Some of those things are baby snakes. Some of the lizards found in the yard feed on newly hatched non-venomous snakes and sometimes eggs itself. Lizards love to eat butterflies, and if you like a garden full of butterflies, we suggest you keep lizards away from it.
Worms are natural food for lizards; in most cases, this won’t bother humans, but if you are making compost for plants, then collecting worms would be difficult in the presence of these reptiles, additional tip; keep the worms out of bird’s sight too. If your yard is home to Dandelions, lizards aren’t probably a great idea. And lastly, honeybees. You might have heard lizards may eat their eggs or smaller lizards, but this is very rare only when their survival is in threat due to hunger.
Their eating habits also depend on the residents of the house and whether or not there are pets. The surrounding wildlife and temperature also play an essential role. If the residents provide crickets and worms, lizards will feed on them and rarely eat plants or other insects. The owner should read and keep updating himself about the lizards and other wildlife in the backyard for the best outcome.
Can Backyard Lizards Cause Harm?
Of all the pests, lizards are the least harmful; in fact, they can be beneficial. Unlike in the case of mosquitoes and flies, humans are not at risk of being infected by contagious and fatal diseases. And rarely do they bite contrary to ants and bed bugs, but they’re a few that may bite as an act of self-defense, but you need not worry as they don’t have any venom. It rarely but may cause a reaction, for which a doctor must be consulted.
What can attract lizards?
Lizards found in the backyard are naturally insectivorous. And what can attract anyone more than an attractive meal? A good water source, leaking pipelines, stagnant water, and so on. There are some plant-eating lizards, and though they are insectivorous when their population rises and they cannot get their share of insects, they can survive on the plant.
Is it a Good Idea to Pet a Lizard?
To quote Steve Bennett, “Lizards are not poisonous, harmful, or anything other than interesting.” These exciting creatures help us in gardening and can control insect outgrowth by eating them. They are available in a wide variety to choose from. Learn about their eating and habitat behavior while adopting one from the pet store. When new at this, pay attention and query for their water requirement and safety with diet and habitat.
- While house lizards are harmless, they could ingest insects that have diseases and viruses which can turn the lizard’s stool or feces hazardous later on.
- They can dirty the place, as they poop everywhere.
- Plant-eating lizards can harm your garden and plants, and rarely but may contaminate them.
- The high population of these reptiles may get problematic.
Tips for preventing lizards from entering the house
- Reducing the number of insects in the house.
Keeping fruits covered and stored in the fridge to avoid food contamination.
- Keeping the secondary pest population down.
- Not store water in open and keeping appliances dry.
- Sealing gaps and cracks in the house to prevent lizards from entering.
- Keeping doors and windows closed.
- Maintain a decluttered and clean interior.
The presence of wildlife in the backyard is an indicator of a healthy environment. In most cases, they are harmless and can prove beneficial due to their eating and habitual behavior. Some of them are docile and also sold in pet stores. Reptiles and Amphibians and, for a matter of fact, all the creatures in the backyard are a vital part of the ecosystem and should be handled with care, and even when you want to get rid of them, it is always a bad idea to harm them. If their inflated population is causing harm, please call animal control or fire station in time of emergency.
Some amphibians can be misunderstood as reptiles, like salamanders. Also, some people think that toads are reptiles. But some of the most recognizable reptiles besides lizards that can be commonly found in your backyard in 2020 are turtles and snakes. Let me help you by sharing this mini guide-
Tips for avoiding harm to reptiles and wildlife in the yard:
- Limit the use of chemicals in your yard.
- Keep your cat indoors.
- Train your dog keep a distance from their area.
- Create an environment by keeping a moist log and some water.
- Feed your pets and restrict them from attacking wildlife.
- Add some birdfeeders on trees.
Turtles are challenging to spot naturally but easy to recognize. Easter box turtle and diamondback terrapin are few commonly found species. Turtles care extremely fun to look at, and they commonly feed on worms and grubs. And sometimes also eat the greens of dandelions.
Some turtle species help in the reduction of mosquito larvae, like the red-eared slider and some others that like more aquatic surroundings and live in streams. But its illegal and unsafe to keep a turtle smaller than 4 inches in your yard as it poses a risk of spreading salmonellosis. Turtle bites are not poisonous, but immediate handwash and sanitization should be done, and in case of a reaction, a doctor must be consulted.
Humans and many other animals have a deep-rooted fear for snakes and panic immediately after spotting one. But it is essential to know that not all snakes are poisonous and harmful; some of them are helpful as they eat mice, snail, voles, and slugs around and in your yard. If you find snakeskin your yard, it can be said it has been in your yard for a while.
There are some species of venomous snakes depending on where you stay, and we would recommend not try to judge for yourself if it’s poisonous or not, if you encounter a snake, remember to keep calm, not panic and call animal control, or nearby fire station for help, leave it alone. Do not try to catch or kill it; besides being inhumane, you might get yourself into more trouble. Be ready by educating yourself about first aid and in extreme fear use ammonia scent to repel snake, but do not use it to kill one, which is an extremely inhumane thing to do.
Reptiles like lizards and turtles, other amphibians, and birds visit your lush green backyard is a sign of living in a great environment and indicates balance. Plus is so beautiful to look at. It is a great place to live alone and accompany these creatures or with family and raise a child while sharing the lessons of co-existence. Still, there is no need to mention that safety and precautions make the experience much more enjoyable.
Written by Yukti Dave