The Caribbean is lousy with critters, in the sea and on the land. There are whales and fish and sharks et al under the water, and in the air are so many magnificent birds – and up on the beach and into the mangrove swamps are all the reptiles and the Caribbean lizards. The geckos and the iguanas and the skinks, et al. They’re like little dinosaurs, especially the iguanas, as if they never went extinct only shrank and moved to the Caribbean islands. There’s a fair chance you’ll see them when you’re here so you’ll probably want to know some background on these mysterious reptiles.
Of the larger animal class Reptilia, which is basically a cold-blooded, egg-laying animal with scales that is neither mammal nor bird (nor snake), there is the subgroup called lizard. Of this subgroup there are somewhere around 6,000 species – no small family gathering. Speaking about size, however, lizards can be as small as a few centimetres (certain chameleons and geckos) and as large as the three metres (the Komodo dragon). Other defining characteristics of lizards include wide feet and external ears, excellent vision (usually colour), and skilled at communicating via body language (with colour signals and pheromones.) Most lizards can detach their tail to escape from predators, which is a remarkable feat of nature and self-regeneration. Many tails are a dramatically different colour than the rest of the body so as to encourage predators to strike that region first and GOTCHA the tail falls off and the lizard scampers away. The tail continues to wriggle and writhe, tricking the predator into thinking it’s got the entire lizard in its jaws while the little critter makes its great escape. Over the next few weeks the tail will grow back, albeit now filled with cartilage and not bone. Slippery little buggers!
The two main types of lizards are iguana and gecko. Iguana are always chill, known as the felines of the reptile kingdom for their cat-like independence and intuitive natures, which is one of the reasons they make great exotic pets for the right person. They’re often found basking in the sun and generally soaking up the good vibes, carrying the torch as it were from their dinosaurs ancestors. They lay their eggs buried beneath the sand, like sea turtles, in huge caches of up to 70 eggs at once. The iguana totem reminds us to adapt wisely while maintaining integrity and going with the flow to overcome adverse external conditions. Oh the things we can learn from our animal friends.
Geckos, meanwhile, are those sticky-footed buds with no eyelids like a snake that can cling to glass and walk on ceilings. Having no eyelids, they lick their eyeballs with their long tongue to hydrate. You try to do that. They’ve also got unique vocalizations when they communicate with each other, chirping in a tone that sounds a lot like ‘gecko’. They are among the most colourful lizards in the world and some can change colours not unlike a chameleon. Their toes are remarkable, equipped with spatula shaped “setae” that adhere to surfaces with neither liquids nor surface tension but rather an attractive energy force. The feet are also self-cleaning (saving the tongue for the eyeballs) and remain yet another absolutely amazing aspect of life.
Fun Facts About Caribbean Lizards
- Lizards smell with their tongues, like snakes. Although in reality, this smelling is probably more of a decoding of the waveform information fields into data that is processed in ways us humans can’t imagine.
- Lizards shed their skin, like snakes. As they grow the rough scaly skin doesn’t, so it’s moulted or shed to allow for proper growth of the lizard.
- Some lizards can shoot blood 2-4 feet out of their eyes to scare off predators!! That’d probably work on me.