The Island Lizard Who Loves Me

The first time our eyes met I was waking up from a mid-morning nap, slowly taking in the light of the room. I turned my neck to the side and there he was – perched on the edge of the throw pillow my head was resting on, bathed in a patch of sunshine, and staring down at me inquisitively.

“Well, hello there,” I said, self-consciously wiping the drool off my chin. He didn’t run away like the others normally do; he just sat there, holding my gaze. And my obsession with him began just like that.

love at first site

love at first sight

Over my nearly 10 years of island living, I’ve known a lot of lizards. I’m mostly an anole girl, though more by default than actual preference (the geckos and skinks are much more skittish as species and therefore harder to observe close up). I shamelessly anthropomorphize the crap out of them, giving them names after minutes of our first meetings, playfully chastising the shower lizards for their Peeping Tom-ery. But up until this point, the lizards have always been a relatively stand-offish bunch. Though I bestow them with individual monikers, it’s not like they stick around for any noticeable period of time. At least not until now. Not until Little Dude.

It’s been over 4 months now since our first encounter that day on the couch, and Little Dude has become a day to day companion in my life. After our meet cute, he continued to appear to me in various places in our living room/office/kitchen space, though he seemed to settle on the bamboo tree next to my desk, where I spend the majority of my time, as his home base. I was honored, though tried not to get too attached at first, figuring he’d leave within a day or two.

is it time to start work?

is it time to start work?

But Little Dude stayed. In the beginning, he alternated between prowling around the house and staring at me while I worked from the ledge of the bamboo pot. I would coo and chat at him and as per usual, I felt compelled to feed him, hoping to bribe him into deeper friendship (aka the kind that would result in me getting to touch him). Unfortunately for me, he wasn’t interested in any of the food I had to offer. My vegetarian pantry lacked the arthropod crunch he preferred to munch on, so I just settled for water.

I set him up with a water dish on the ledge of the bamboo pot to encourage him to stay, and watching him drink from it each day makes my soul burst. He puts his little lizard hands on the edge of the dish and glugs it down, while my eyes turn into hearts like a lovesick emoji.

the watering hole

the watering hole

For a short stretch of time, Little Dude cavorted with a slightly smaller lizard, whom I dubbed Little Lady. Little Lady was much more flighty than him, and never let me get close to her. Their torrent affair lasted a couple of weeks, then we never saw Little Lady again. Random lizards come and go, but Little Dude just chases them away. He’s quite territorial and seems to have decided that I’m enough. Now, it’s me he bounces on his little legs for and dances at. The first time he showed off his bright dewlap in my direction, I have to admit – it made me blush.

“Oh, Little Dude! I love you too…” *cue lovesick emoji eyes*

After that, he has had even fewer boundaries and now chooses to be as close to me as possible (sans food bribery, it should be noted). He runs across my desk, hops onto my keyboard while I type, sits on the couch with me whenever I nap, and I even have to shoo him away while I work out, afraid I might accidentally jump-jack on him since he insists on staying so close to my feet. I find it pretty astonishing how near this little creature is willing to get to my mouth. I often set my chin down on whatever surface he’s sitting on, smile like a doting goon, and blabber on about how much I adore him. He holds his ground, mere inches from my bright white predator fangs, and looks me straight in the eyes without a trace of fear. Does he somehow know I’m highly opposed to eating animals? Or does he actually understand me when I tell him I’d never hurt him? 

hard at work

hard at work

I, of course, am convinced Little Dude is head over heels in love with me. David, in his signature bubble-bursting logic, infers that the reason Little Dude sticks so close to my side is simply because all the mosquitoes are drawn to me. I am, pragmatically, bait. Such a romantic, my boyfriend.

About a month ago, I witnessed Little Dude run out the gap under the screen in the early morning and I panicked. I didn’t see him throughout the day and when he wasn’t back by nightfall, I was devastated. I would love to blame a particularly stressful work day, but in full disclosure, I will admit that I went to bed stifling the tears of the jilted.

But the next morning, there he was. And that’s when I decided to up the ante. I was not about to lose my little lizard man. I needed to make his life in our house even sweeter. I needed bugs.

he's baaaack! :)

he’s baaaack! 🙂

As it turns out, I’m much more adept at catching bugs than I would have ever imagined. Perhaps it’s all these years of savage mosquito slaying I’ve been engaged in, or maybe it’s just my catlike reflexes. Either way, when I started stalking the insects around our house, I was cognizant that I was crossing a line. The line I so precariously walk, generally slipping onto the crazy side more often than not. This was definitely more than a slip. More like a devil-may-care leap. But I was in too far already.

Little Dude does not like bugs that are already dead, which definitely adds to the challenge. Moths, beetles, aphids, crickets, cockroaches – I must creep up on them, trap them quickly in my cupped hands, then grasp their wings between my fingernails, careful not to crush them. I then rush over, bow before my Lizard King, and present them with exuberant pride before his face. And this is the best part: Little Dude whips his neck around, narrows his eyes at the fluttering bug in my fingers, twitches his tail, and in a flash, he hops INTO MY PALM, snatches the bug in a chomp, and hops back off. Once he finishes eating, he licks his lips in satisfaction. Satisfaction that I created.

It’s addicting, but I do force myself to hold back and only feed him sporadically. I don’t want him to lose his own hunting skills completely and rely on me as his sole food source. I’m just not sure I’d be able to maintain that level of hunting pressure. I want him to stay wild. Well, wild-ish.

My texts to David have transitioned from the standard couple fare of “miss you”‘s  and “what’s for dinner”‘s into neurotic updates on Little Dude’s daily affairs:

the play by play

the play by play

day of the scorpion feeding

day of the scorpion feeding

And yes, you read that right. I caught and fed him a scorpion (they’re not poisonous here). And it was every bit as awesome as you are imagining.

In an unexpected turn of events, Little Dude has also started attacking us. He’s tiny, so it doesn’t hurt. And his audacity just adds to his charm, in my book.

Napping on the couch the other day, I woke up to him nipping at the tip of my finger. Perhaps there was a mosquito there, or perhaps he was just remembering the beetle I fed him earlier. I pulled back my hand and looked at him, “And just what do you think you’re doing, Mister?” He just looked at me and licked his chops.

couch stalker

couch stalker

The next time, I was typing at the computer, and he stationed himself on the edge of the keyboard, and kept lunging at my fingers. Another instance of him seeing them as a food source, I imagine. And once again, adorable.

your fingers look delicious...

your fingers look delicious…

Most recently, David was sitting on the couch reading and I heard him say, “Hey!”

Little Dude had bit David’s earlobe and proceeded to clamp down and hang on, as David waited for him to finish, looking Bowie-esque with his new little lizard earring.  “I can’t believe he did that.” he said, looking at me, aghast.

I shrugged. “Well, you are sitting on his pillow. What did you expect? Ya gotta respect The Dude’s territory.”

“His territory, huh?”

yes, David, this is MY pillow.

yes, David, this is MY pillow.

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Chrissann Nickel

About Chrissann Nickel

Chrissann’s home rock in the British Virgin Islands, against all logic, feels bigger to her than it actually is. Though after spending five years on a teensy one acre island, the current 13-mile long rock she’s residing on now IS ginormous, at least by comparison. As with everything in the Caribbean, it’s all about perspective.

Once upon a time she used to care about things like matching her purse to her pumps, but these days, she’s a card-carrying member of the Barefoot Nation. She is utterly enchanted with vinyasa yoga, especially when practiced on somewhat precarious, deliciously Instagram-able surfaces (she's @WomanOnARock) such as paddleboards, boats, cliffs, or even the occasional willing friend’s body. She vehemently believes that toucans are the best animals ever (period.) and there is no convincing her otherwise (though imperious roadside goats come in as a close second).

As the Editor in Chief of this site, she spends a lot of her time working from home all by her lonesome writing, editing, and cultivating content designed to make her fellow islanders laugh. Besides her writerly pursuits, she moonlights as a yoga instructor, and attributes at least a smidge of her insanity to the amount of time she spends talking to drunk people. If you’re somehow still reading this and feel inclined to find out more about this “Chrissann” of which we speak, you can also take a gander at her eponymous personal website, www.chrissannnickel.com

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36 thoughts on “The Island Lizard Who Loves Me

  1. He’s not attacking and nipping. He’s throwing himself with wild abandon into a hug with you and then kissing you. You know how sometimes you love someone so much you just bite them? (I like eating my husbands cheeks). Well, Little Dude feels thaw same about you. He just wants to eat his cute humans.

    Remember the movie “The Birdman of Alcatraz”? Well you are “The Lizard Lady of (insert your rock’s name)”
    More Little Dude stories and pics!

    • LOL, I’m so on the same page as you, Beth! I actually almost included that because I’m a “love nibbler” with my boyfriend too. Your comment cracked me up – kindred souls, we must be 😉

  2. I can’t tell you how much time I have invested in our lizard house guests as well!! One anole in particular is infatuated with our puppy. I came in to our house one time and Zooey, our Coconut Retriever, was sitting, awkwardly motionless, waiting to greet us. She looked at me and then went slightly cross-eyed and looked back at me again. I realized, there sitting on the bridge of her nose, was the lizard who hangs out with her. She hadn’t even flinched or tried to push him off her with her paw at all. Instead, they have this special inter-species relationship that has developed. I will oftentimes see the lizard near her crate or her bed, the two of them just staring at each other, as if it’s all totally normal!!!

    • That is just about the cutest thing I’ve ever heard, Veronica! I wonder if they were friends in a past life? If you’re ever able to get a pic, I’d love to see it – feel free to share it on our Facebook wall. Thanks so much for sharing, love this so much! 🙂

  3. I think Little Dude has tired of the cockroaches and is moving on to larger fare. First the earlobes, then the fingers, then . . .
    Try not to fall asleep when he’s watching you!

  4. This is my new favorite post ever written in the history of ever. AMAZING!!! I couldn’t stop giggling…and also feeling slightly guilty that I didn’t feed Little Nugget to entice him to stay. He has been hanging out in our bedroom lately though 🙂

  5. A Lizard Love story! I love it. I have visited a BFF that lives in T&T and had my own Lizard encounter. I woke up from a nap on the veranda one day to see him peeping at me from the top of the couch. I was of course in his territory & he was wondering when I might remove myself from his couch.
    My friend also is certain that another lizard lounges on her bed and watches TV when they are not home. I believe her!

  6. I love this story. I have recently spent quite a bit of time with Lizards for preparation of a book I wrote. I learned so much about their behavior and now find myself stopping everytime I see one, just to see what it is up to. They are territorial and I find the same ones in the same places daily around my home.

  7. Love this Beyond my ability to adequately communicate at this time.. (all day and into the evening at the computer and I have the eloquence of an anesthetized earth worm at this particular moment) but I grinned somewhat madly, from start to finish, at this wonderful post!! And to add to this delirious delight, my champion Rex the Curly Tail, who has been missing since after Hurricane Matthew, showed up this afternoon at the bottom of my stairs, all robust and full of himself, to bite my toe and demand feeding!!!! Joy!!! Thank you once again for the lovely read! :))

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