Gardening with Reptiles, Succulents and Screaming of Course

The few lessons that I haven’t learned completely the hard way yet revolve around gardening with reptiles. I know the basics like rattlesnakes like to curl up under agave attenuata in the wild and that you should always wear gloves when reaching in a place you cannot see to get a cool succulent but I have never worried about being bitten by something in my living room while working with my plants. In the last two weeks I have come face to face with three brown widow spiders, some sort of snake, (I’m pretending it was a rattlesnake so I sound a little tougher) and a nest of about 20 baby lizards that were about 2 inches long.

The brown widow egg sac discovery occurred first. I was putzing through the gardens and discovered this little white pokey ball hanging from my podocarpus. I wasn’t surprised to see it as I am due for Antac, a pest control company here in San Diego, to show up and spray, but it did remind me what a dangerous sport succulent gardening can be!  I have been a careful, gloved gardener since the spider discovery and with all the creatures that I have encountered these few weeks it only made me realize that they are always there, I just am always in such a zone when gardening that I don’t notice.

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For the first time since the last time I saw a reptile up close, I felt like my father must have felt the day I came home with a snake wrapped around my neck when I was in 4th grade.  I’ve never seen a grown man run so fast or scream so loud! So her I was, just finishing packaging yesterdays orders and was down to the last aeonium sunburst and graptoveria Fred IvesI picked up Fred and screamed bloody murder as I came eye to eye with a pinkish colored lizard sitting on a 4 inch graptoveria leaf, that did I mention was right next to my finger!?. I threw that succulent faster than I throw snails I find in the yard and ran out my front door.

After getting my heart rate back to normal I put on my boots and gloves and headed towards the living room. I picked up my poor plant, who survived btw, and put him back into the box where he came from and just as I did, the little stinker jumped off and started running around in the box. Yes, the lizard! Now he had turned this brownish, cardboard color. I will be attempting to identify him at some point but after viewing images on my google search of Southern California Reptiles, I decided I wasn’t prepared to find out all the other creepy things that are probably near me all the time.

The only succulent lesson I have for today is that when you are out in the wild, or apparently in my gardens, you should always be aware of your surroundings. Cactus and succulents aren’t only fantastic to look at but they are an excellent place for a small reptile or spider to hide.

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