Bill Starr: Dragons in Georgia? Well… sort of

Published 2:49 pm Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I know some of you will find this hard to believe but we do have Komodo Dragons in Georgia, well at least we do at my house .The other day my wife and I were outside, I was spraying some weeds and she was watering our tomatoes and all of sudden she lets out a blood curdling scream. She screamed because a giant 10 foot Komodo dragon was creeping up behind her, the tension between predator and prey was almost unbearable. Naturally I showed up and wrestled the great beast into submission. Well maybe it didn’t happen exactly like that but it was close. What had actually startled my wife was a five lined skink that was probably 8-10 inches long not the 10 feet of the Komodo dragon. I didn’t have to wrestle it, I showed up and it ran off in a hurry (those jokers can move). Five Lined Skinks are moderately large lizards with short legs. The body is generally gray, brown, or black, in background color with five white or yellowish stripes. Young five lined skinks have a bright blue tail while the adult males often lose their stripes and develop reddish or orange coloration on the head .Five lined skinks can be found in almost any habitat. (For some reason they prefer to be around my vegetable garden) When pursued five lined skinks generally run to the nearest tree or log and can be quite difficult to capture. Like many other lizards, five lined skinks will break off their tails when restrained, distracting the predator and allowing the lizard to escape. Another lizard I know many of you will be familiar with is the Brown and Green Anole. These are the green or brown lizards that you see with the red marking on their throat, called a throat fan. The green anole is generally about five to eight inches long. Females are usually smaller and can be less than five inches long. Green anoles have adhesive lamellae on their foot-pads for crawling along walls, much like geckos. Able to change color, the green anole can be anywhere from bright green to browns and grays. One thought is that the green coloration is related to dominance. When I was kid I learned these lizards will bite something and hang on. One time before my wife and I were married I caught a green anole at her house and let it bite my ear lobe and hang on, my future mother in law was very impressed. And lastly another lizard I know many of you will be familiar with is the Eastern Fence Lizard; this is a lizard that is a member of the spiny lizard family. If I’m not mistaken this is the only lizard native to Georgia that has rough scales. Fence Lizards are mostly grey in color and very scaly looking, but their color can vary from black to brown. I always heard these lizards called racerunners, which is not correct as there is actually a lizard called a racerunner that is an entirely different species. Just try to catch one of these and you might see why they could be called that. These are just a few of the lizards native to Georgia and ones that I commonly have contact with around my home. Back to the Komodo dragon I must have made a mistake it wasn’t a lizard at all that was scaring my wife but an extremely rare dinosaur Tri-Scare- A –Top .which is much larger than a Komodo dragon.
Bill Starr is the Sumter County Extension coordinator/ANR agent, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. Contact him at 220-924-4476.