Monday, November 14, 2011

Shedding his skin: Mitchell outback Qld

At over 40 years of age, Stego stumpy-tailed lizard has shed his skin countless times. With each shedding, he grows a little larger and sports a new beautifully-marked, shiny skin.

If the climate is dry (which is the case in outback Queensland), shedding skin can be difficult. The skin needs moisture to come away, especially from the feet and rear end.

This morning I did my usual, "Hello, Stego. How are you?" to be greeted by one very stressed and hungry lizard. First I fed him half a banana, and then attended to the problem of his partly shed skin. He said he felt itchy and was frustrated because he couldn't get the last skin off his back legs and rear end.

Using the laundry trough, I ran him a shallow lukewarm bath and then gently lowered him into the water. But his impatience was clear to see!

After letting him soak for a couple of minutes -- to soften the skin on his back -- I gradually eased the skin off his rear end. All that remained to be done was to remove the old skin from his back legs and toes. This was more difficult and he squirmed impatiently. Finally he was free, handsome and restored to his usual calm and happy self.

A small three-toed skink was sunning itself on our front verandah this morning. When I first saw him I thought, Baby snake. But then I saw tiny legs and admit I felt great relief.

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