Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I Want To Be Your Sledgehammer

Our PF fence lizards are superbly adapted to the local oaks and they disappear as soon as they stop moving.

They're using a passive defense known as disruptive coloration. Disruptive coloration is designed to break up your outline so you look less lizardy, fishy, snakey, etc.
Stewie the cornsnake uses a similar plan, as did the US Navy (Navy 1, Somali pirates 0!) in World War II.
Back then, some warships in the Pacific were painted with a zigzaggy, almost zebra pattern to break up their shippy outline when viewed at a distance in heaving seas.

This fat (pregnant?) fence lizard was making the best of a dilemma. When I came walking up, she was on the green barn siding and stood out like the bullseye on a target.
Instinctively she stood still, but then something clicked and she moved to the nearest object that allowed her passive defences to operate.

She hasn't vanished, but she's doing a pretty sweet job of being the sledge.

In other news ...
Last night and most of this morning was pretty stormy with the red tornado watch box shifting all around and over us. The Suwannee and her tributary the Santa Fe are flooding and the pulse of water which began in South Georgia weeks ago is approaching my end of the Suwannee.

After this post, I'm heading out in the JEEP to see if I can bring you a few pics of the floodwaters, or at least an "up" Suwannee.

Stay tuned ...


Ericka said...

neat lizard. i hope things don't get TOO flooded.

Dani said...

They are so neat! I wish their range came down a little more towards me.

Sayre said...

Love those, but we don't have many here. Mostly we have green anoles.

We had lots of flooding here last week. Yesterday and last night's rain, while heavy at times, was not nearly as bad and only localized flooding happened. On the upside, Lake Jackson is back after being dry for nearly 10 years!

Airborne dad said...

Came back from Tallahassee today. I have never seen the Suwannee so high. Be careful.

threecollie said...

Now if only the pond fills up!

kathy a. said...

liz is a cutie, and smart. hope you don't have much flooding, just enough to fill the poor pond.

Floridacracker said...

Pretty high in a town near here... people canoeing to their homes.

I'm surprised it doesn't. Pretty pleasant to have around.

Good news about Jackson. These lizards are pretty common here as long as there are oaks present.

Airborne Dad,
It WAS high... especially around Branford.

Amen to that! So far no standing water.

Kathy A,
I think it's gonna take a tropical storm this summer to fill my pond.

Laura said...

If only we could get that water down to Lake Okeechobee!

that is one well fed lizard. think she's been stealing bears food? LOL

And I didn't know that about the Navy warships back in WWII, although it makes perfect sense... enjoyed that little factoid that you threw in. thanks. lol

Aunty Belle said...

does them lizzards dominate all other lizzard species? Whar' them rough lookin' versions thrive, seems that pretty green ones die off or slink off somewhar' more hospitable.

Stay dry, PF.

Thunder Dave said...

All these years and I never knew you were a Peter Gabriel fan! ;-)
Looking forward to seeing the River pics!

Floridacracker said...

Maybe a big ol Tropical Storm will fill her up this summer ... that is the wish for my pond too!

Nah, this one is a benign native. The greens and this one generally have different zones of operation. You might be thinking of those rascally brown anoles (exotic). They seem to shove the greens higher into the trees.

I love that song, but confess I couldn't think of who sang it!

Mark P said...

Naval camouflage .. that reminds me of the way allied aircraft were painted in WW II. At first, when the issue was in doubt, they were painted drab colors to try to hide them from the enemy. Then, at least in Europe, when the allies had virtually complete air superiority, they had red tails, checkerboard tails, yellow slashes, all kinds of colorful paint schemes that were the opposite of camouflage. I wonder if there is any animal in nature that is so secure in its environment that it can forgo any kind of camouflage and visually shout its presence. Poisonous insects maybe?

Floridacracker said...

Mark P,
Great info!
Yes, to your question. It's a form of passive defense known as warning coloration. Usually involves reds and yellows.

The coral snake is a great example.

Mark P said...

The coral snake, of course.

And "warning coloration" sounds about right for the WWII allied aces: "You had better stay the h*** away from my P-51!"

Floridacracker said...

Best plane ever.

Karin Katherine said...

I cannot wait to show this picture to my boys. They will be excited...and then they will expect me to find one for them. But I don't think they are around Palm Beach County, do you? I have never seen those.