(hopefully my African friends will get the pun in my title here)
I'll never forget the moment I discovered my first alligator lizard, it was March of 2017 and I had just parked the work vehicle (I was working for Finca Bellavista back then) with the legend that is Jesus Amado - we were on our way to Casa del Mono to start a project.
We both hopped out and made our way to the back of the land cruiser to grab some supplies before heading up to the house. As we met in the middle, I noticed a small snake - I remember thinking to myself how lucky we were (and it was) not to have run it over.
He was quite aggressive (as you would be if someone nearly ran you over)...
Even staring at it in real life, I still had not discovered my first alligator lizard - I thought it was a baby coral snake 🤣.
It's only when I got back to basecamp and reviewed the footage in closer detail that I noticed this 'snake' had arms and legs!
WTF! Had I just discovered a new species, was this 'The Fusion snake'?
Not being sure what it was or whether it was a new species or not, I did what any man living in this century would do - I posted it on facebook...
Pretty cool find, I was happy to know that this guy was still around, and felt extremely blessed to know that he was living in my neighborhood.
I often wonder what happened to him and how big he is now....
I had mentioned in the beginning of this post that 'I would never forget the moment I discovered my first alligator lizard. I cannot believe that I actually got to discover another one....and all I did was open my front door, almost exactly 3 years later.
At first I wasn't sure what it was (same old story 😂) but to be fair I thought it might be an alligator lizard only the fact that it's tail was not as long as it should be, threw me off.
Sadly, it looks like he lost most of it.
Can anyone confirm if they can lose them as a self defense mechanism like other lizards have or did this guy have an unfortunate accident?
Once I saw the stump tail, I realized that this could actually be the 'Isthmian alligator lizard'!
The first thing I noticed when reading it's profile is that unlike many other lizards, individuals have lateral folds. I give you, the lateral fold:
Wikipedia also goes on to say that the females give birth to live young making them viviparous (wow!). It had not been seen in 50 years before being rediscovered in Golfito (about an hour drive from us).
I spent a good hour with this guy and as we got to know each other, it let me get closer and closer (I'm taking this footage with a 5 year old samsung galaxy note 5 that @James sold me years ago 😂).
Here's some footage of it moving:
There's something rather special about knowing these extremely rare species of lizard are living in your neighborhood, nevermind doorstep!
I feel extremely blessed having encountered both juvenile and adult form of these beautiful creatures. I wonder if this is the same guy from 3 years ago, I realise the chances are slim but that said, what are the chances of discovering 2 of such a rare species - the odds are equal.
I often find myself wondering where this guy is when working in our gardens. I hope to see it and others again in the not-to-distant future and fingers crossed they flourish here in the rainforest. Maybe next time I'll invite it in for tea (if it keeps it's shoes off!)