I should have known right away that something was up when I came outside for lunch and first saw Ranger in the backyard standing still and looking down at the dirt. But it wasn’t until a couple minutes later and Ranger was still in the same spot still looking down that it dawned on me a critter might be the object of her attentions.

My first thought was that it was one of the bushtit chicks in our backyard nest who’d fledged and fallen, but when I arrived, I’d found a tightly curled alligator lizard. Dead? Seemed like it. Legs all akimbo, and there was a bit of blood on the scales under the tail when I lifted it up with a twig as Ranger stood guard close by. In addition, it had already regrown (or was regrowing) its tail, lost probably in a previous cat encounter.

Ranger stood beside me seeming far more like she was protectively watching over the reptile rather than toying with it, leading me to believe one of the cats had caught it and brought it out in the open.

When I picked it up though it moved slightly – yay! So I brought it in and set it on my desk while I sought a shoebox to put it, and sure enough when I returned it had disappeared — which was good to see, providing that I could reacquire it.

A short search later revealed its refuge behind one of the computer speakers and I was able to stow it in the shoebox to de-stress while I registered it with the LA County Museum of Natural History’s Lost Lizards of Los Angeles project.

Later on I transferred it to the tortoise pen (as pictured), where it’s been exploring and resting. Hopefully the wound under its tail is not indicative of any more severe internal injuries and it’ll recover enough to find its way out and be more successfully keeping away from the cats. Fingers crossed.

UPDATE (4:02 p.m.): Just went outside to check and the lizard either can make itself disappear, or was well enough to escape through a gap between the top of the pen and the wall. Good luck little fella!