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PCR #172  (Vol. 4, No. 28)  This edition is for the week of July 7--13, 2003.

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Creature's Corner

Greetings From The "Castle":
Things have settled down in the last week with "those who live beneath our feet" having wormed their way back into the catacombs. It's nice to know they are there, protecting the residents of the "Castle" from underground intruders. We look forward to their next visit.

Anyway, I think I left off last week with our S. Florida excursion entering it's third and, alas, final day. Leaving the crumbling walls of the thriving Agamid colony we made our way up U.S. 1 towards our next destination. We passed by the "Coral Castle" and I immediately thought of Will's "La Floridiana." (hint, hint). No, the castle has not mysteriously relocated itself. Those secrets died with the owner, and builder. I cast a lingering glance at the Florida landmark thinking back to another familiar landmark that no longer exists on U. S. 1, The Miami Serpentarium. This building was unique in that it was one of the first institutions to seriously look into snake nenoms as a valuable commodity in the field of medicine. One always new they were approaching the Serpentarium as the building was fronted by the huge visage of a cobra, hood extended, overlooking the road. Even the owner, Bill Haast, was somewhat of an enigma. Through experimentation on himself he became immune to the deadly effects of deadly neurotoxin venom which is produced by cobras, kraits, and coral snakes. So the next time you scoff at the various ways some superheroes become imbued with their powers just remember that Haast's research and self experimentation has helped save lives. Isn't that the sign of a superhero. (Hmm, let's see,if we get a guy to be bitten by a radioactive spider...).

Sorry about the tangent, my mind is always on the lookout for story ideas and plot outlines. ANYWAY, a few minutes later we arrived at the canal for a second go-round. I still hadn't seen a wild, "Florida Iguana." At least I had now seen the Basilisk Lizards (Jesus Christ Lizards) that frequented the area. On the way through the neighborhoods we did manage to snag three Cuban Knight Anoles (Anolis equestris) extending the range farther out from what we previously believed it to be. We captured three of the 14" plus giants of the anole world. One has to be careful when handling them for they have very large heavily armored heads (thus the name) and can deliver a painful bite.

At the canal we collected four species of anoles (A. distichus, A. sagrei, A. cristatellus, and A. Carolinensis) along with an additional young basilisk but still no Iguanas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Leaving the canal area after about an hour we went back to the park where we found our first Jamaican Giant Anole (A. garmani). This time it was earlier in the day and the sun was shining. Wandering through the small park we found our first A. garmani of the day on the trunk of a young Cuban Laurel Tree. It was an inch or two larger than the first one we collected a couple days prior. We collected it with no problem. Soon after we collected two more which brought our total to four. I was very excited. We also found a large Cuban Knight Anole with a stub tail crawling around on the branches of a very young tree. We left the animal there just observing it. We saw two others which were left behind as well. Actually I was talking to Ashley on the cell phone while watching the ancient anole slowly make it's way through the branches. Ashley was in Spain at the time and was telling me about the trip. I was also telling her about our trip. After I hung up the phone I noticed one of the neighbors wandering the street in front of the park, walking his dog. We were warned about the neighbors by our University connection and how nasty they could be to people who collect "their lizards." I walked over to the truck in an attempt to nip any trouble in the bud. I struck up a conversation with the guy and sure enough he asked what we were doing. I told him we were there to observe the spread of introduced lizards in Southern Florida. He asked if we'd seen any of "those big Cuban Lizards." I told him we had. He said they were all over the neighborhood. He even had them in his yard. I was hardly surprised as this area of Southern Miami is very tropical. (yes Will, we were near Fairchild. I can't wait to check out your spot. Thanx!!!) Almost all the yards were heavily planted with tropical foliage plants. It really is a very pretty area. A perfect haven for Tropical Lizards. I told him we'd seen almost every species we came to see with the exception of a "home-grown" Green Iguana (Iguana iguana iguana). He piped up and told me he knew where we could see them for sure, and they were right in the neighborhood. I asked him where and he told me to get on the road that runs behind the park. One block up it rounds a corner and passes a canal. He told me he always sees them there. I thanked him and he went on his way.

I turned to go find Phil and my eyes caught sight of something large and green in the Cuban Laurel in front of me. It was about five feet over my head, eleven to twelve feet up in the tree. It was a full adult A. garmani and it was impressive. The lizard was a beautiful lime green which stood out against the dark background of the Laurel Tree's bark. I watched it for a few seconds as it climbed higher into the tree. It was truly a sight to behold. The animal was a large male at least 16-17 inches in length. At least now I knew what to expect from the young animals I was bringing home.

I found Phil still wandering the park and told him we had to go. He asked why and I told him I knew where there was an Iguana spot. He kind of ribbed me about it as most of my areas we stopped at were destroyed. We left the park and drove around the block to the road behind the park. Slowly we drove down the road, keeping an eye in the trees to see if we could spot any more lizards. We observed an additional four A. garmani and two more A. equestris. It appears that all the adults stay higher in the trees while the juvies stay closer to the ground.

Rounding the corner the canal came up quickly on the right. There was a guard rail in front of it to keep people from driving into the canal. As we slowly approached the canal something came into view. Perched on top of one of the guard rail supports was a huge male Iguana. He was about as perfect a speciman as one could hope to see. This guy was not an escaped fugitive, he was born and raised right there on that canal. He was about FIVE FEET in overall length with a body measuring at least two feet in length. He was a dark greyish-green adorned with perfect dorsal spines. We began taking pictures right away. The Lizard became acutely aware of this and jumped down from his perch into someone's yard. Seeing him walking through the grass with body held well off the ground was just unbelievable. He made his way very deliberately to the canal. We followed him when suddenly a smaller Iguana of about three feet in legth jumped from a low overhanging tree limb into the canal. The large male spotted the action, sliding into the canal himself. It was over but it was all woth it.

We decided to go eat some lunch before heading out across the Tamiami Trail. We definitely were coming back to get a better look at the park and the canal.

So that's the S. Florida trip in a nutshell (or novelization. I really didn't mean to get so long-winded, sorry). Next week, I'll describe (briefly, I promise) the ride back and the fish collecting site we stopped at.

Until then, Have A Great Week!!! C-Ya!!!

P.S. Coming next week: Yo, HO-HO, a pirates life for me along with some other goodies from the vault.
P.S.S. At least my spot produced a couple Iguanas, Phil (LOL).

"Creature's Corner" is ©2003 by John Lewis.  Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.