June 18th, 2007
Lizard Trap

A lizard gets caught up in the bird netting around the tomato plants.

I went out to check on the tomatoes. So far we’re not having very good luck. The very first fruits were munched on by caterpillars when they were about the size of a cherry.

A month later, as the first ‘Black Krim’ tomato started to change color, we covered the plants with bird-netting. However the day we decided the first ‘Black Krim’ was going to be ready, we went out to pick it and something (probably raccoons) had beaten us to it. I don’t see how they got in and out of the netting without making a mess or getting tangled up in it but they did. A couple of days later we picked a semi-ripe tomato and let it ripen inside. Maybe we ate it too early, but we weren’t much impressed with its flavor.

‘Black Krim” tomatoes ripening.

That was a couple of weeks ago. Now a lot more are starting to ripen and we’re licking our lips. So I went out to check on them this afternoon and saw a lizard (Tree Lizard, I think, or maybe a Texas Spiny Lizard). Unfortunately it saw me too and made dash for it, right into the bird-netting.

Luckily it didn’t thrash around but held very still even when I got close to try to free it. It had somehow managed to get half its quite large body through the 1/2 inch square mesh. I got some manicure scissors and carefully cut the netting away from its delicate claws and arms. It held very, very still. Then as carefully as I could, I tried over and over to get the scissors under the mesh that was wrapped around its body. When I snipped my final snip, it dashed past me faster than I could see it. Whew! I was glad it held still long enough for me to free it. I’d be very upset if the birds or fire ants had gotten there first.

Now how did it manage to get under the netting in the first place?

by M Sinclair Stevens

8 Responses to post “Lizard Trap”

  1. From M2 (Seattle):

    Wow. I’m glad you could do that. I’d want to do that … but I’d be so nervous that I’d mess it up. I’m a “hands off” kind of nature girl, unfortunately.

    I was nervous I was going to stab it with the scissors because it had wedged itself so tightly into the mesh. (This is a large lizard…about three times the size of the green anole.) But anyone who could do some of the things you do for sick dogs would have found a way to save it. — mss

  2. From Margaret Powis:

    Your lizard visitor is beautiful and I’m glad he got away.

    I envy you your fruit cage. I have been trying, successfully, to grow tomato plants but unfortunately unsuccesfully as far as fruit goes. I cannot harvest any fruit because the demon squirrels pick them off before they are full size and hurl them around the garden! If you feel like sharing the source of your tomato protection device I would be a very grateful recipient.

    I love reading your blog and one day perhaps will get my garden organized enough to blog about it. The garden and me as a Texas Gardener has been gradually coming into existence over the past three years as I cut into a St. Augustine lawn bit by bit. As it has never been gardened before the soil is pretty much inert. I’m piling on the compos. and trying out as many different plants as I can.

    Your garden is an inspiration.

    Well, thank you, Margaret. It would be great if you started blogging…the more Austin garden bloggers the merrier! We built the tomato frame with old 2x4s and some cattle panel fencing that we got via Pam/Digging. I think she got it at Callahan’s General Store…or some feed store near the airport which I’ve forgotten the name of. As for the bird netting…we picked up a roll of that years ago, probably at Home Depot. It is a very lightweight plastic netting with a small mesh and used to cover fruit trees. I think it’s similar to this stuff from Gardener’s Supply Company. I don’t know if it will keep out the squirrels but I hope it does. They do quite a bit of ravaging in my yard, too. — mss

  3. From Ki (New Jersey):

    Glad to read you rescued the lizard without injury. We used the same type netting which managed to snag a baby rabbit and some birds. Of course unlike the lizard, the rabbit and birds became frantic as I approached, injuring themselves even more than they already were. I’ve given up growing veggies because we have too many animals that like to eat them. And the mesh fence was not up to keeping the deer from craning it’s neck over it. With so many small animals getting injured, it had to go. Now, we just content ourselves with tomatoes and peppers grown in pots on the deck and parsley and chard in the garden sans fence.

    I did plant an heirloom black tomato (I can’t remember the name) and it grew to a very large size but the taste was disappointing. This was supposedly a taste winner too in some tasting contest held I believe in Oregon? I hope your Black Krim turns out to be a better tasting tomato.

    There does seem to be a certain amount of conflict between making one’s garden a wildlife habitat (intentionally or not) and trying to grow food. For some reason, my winter vegetable garden is much less bothered by competition of all types than my summer one. —

  4. From Dawn (Austin):

    Well done on your lizard rescue! I admire people who love animals enough to take the time and help them. That’s a very good photos. I couldn’t get such a close pic of the lizard in my garden. They really move fast!

    Good luck with your tomatoes. Hopefully you’ll get some delicious fruit before the critters eat it all.


    Well, I normally can’t get a good photo of these lizards either but this time he was stuck. If I hadn’t been so worried about him, I would have taken a couple of more. — mss

  5. From Janet (England):

    Hi there. SO GLAD you managed to rescue the lizard. They are one thing I really miss from my Houston balcony-gardens. Texas lizards are wonderful. We certainly don’t see any in Oxfordshire, as you might imagine!


    I flew over you neck of the woods yesterday (July 10th). We flew from Cheshire over the Cotswolds on our way to Old Sarum Airfield and looked at Avebury Stones, the Silbury Hill, some chalk horses, and Stonehenge. I haven’t seen any lizards here but lots of rabbits. Makes me want to reread Watership Down. — mss

  6. From tom (California):

    I just found a lizard in my garden. Came online to look up if they are to be left IN the garden? or not? I didn’t capture him but did get 1 good pic. He was on top of the leaves in a jalapeno plant. This property I live on is old orange grove territory (as is all of Pasadena) and has many fruit trees including citrus. Ground Cinnamon and orange essential oil have routed the ants from inside the garden, 64 catapillars and counting (apx 50 days in).
    Since there are squirells, possum, racoons, skunks, pissing cats and birds, I decided the only animal bigger then a chicken wire would hold out getting in there would be me, I put up 10′ poles (2 feet in the ground) and completely enclosed the 10′ x 15′ “box”. I had a huge cricket one day, and 2 very small birds inside the cage and now the lizard. I’m gonna keep looking about whether the lizard has to go or not…

    Lizards are wonderful for the garden, as are toads and frogs. They eat all the nasty insects. My lizards have a fondness for cockroaches, which warms my heart. — mss

  7. From kip:

    How do I get rid of the lizards; they are eating my strawberries?

    I would never harm a lizard any more than I’d harm a toad or snake. They are the beneficial guardians of my garden. I’m surprised to hear that your lizards are eating strawberries and am asking around about this behavior. Have you actually seen a lizard eat a strawberry? I would have guessed that they were after the bugs that are eating your strawberries. However, my knowledge of lizards is far from catholic, so I’m waiting to hear more from those who know more. — mss

  8. From petersteel:

    that was really nice to read this blog.. think u should use bird deterrents i hope that works…