Monday, May 24, 2010

Forked Tail

Living with a forked tail can cause problems as we learned this weekend.

On our Sunday hike Julie took along a small video recorder for the first time. I was leading the way when I came upon a chuckwalla. It ran under a boulder before Julie could get a good look at it or I could get a photo of it. It had a forked tail. Strange.

I got a still camera ready and Julie took out the video camera. Almost 15 minutes of standing still waiting for it to come out into the sunlight got us the photo and the video below.

After I photographed the chuckwalla and we watched it for a while I asked Julie to keep recording as I walked up the trail. As I did the lizard moved to hide but got his tail caught.

Chuckwalla with a forked tail. (Larger version)

Later in the morning we saw four more chuckwallas about the same size but colored differently. However, this was the only one with the unusual tail.

I know some lizards can intentionally detach their tail to distract predators. I once saw a small lizard do this to evade our cat. She stopped immediately and began pawing the detached tail that was wiggling as the lizard escaped safely.

Was this a birth defect? Could it have been a tail that didn't fully detach but stimulated another tail to grow? I wonder what would happen if this chuckwalla detached his tail? Would it detach beyond the fork? Is this really uncommon or does it happen occasionally?

I don't know the answers to these questions but it was an exciting fifteen minutes.


Blogger graceonline said...

Fascinating. Utterly delightful. Thank you so much for sharing this.

5/24/2010 05:46:00 PM  

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