Weekly Puzzler Answer #121

Did you know the mysterious blue object in last week’s puzzler?

121answer-4701It is the TAIL of a one of eastern North America’s most common lizards–the American five-lined skink or Plestiodon fasciatus. When this lizard is a juvenile it has a bright blue tail and is often referred to a blue-tailed skink. But as it ages the blue tail fades and the lizard looks a bit different. Adult males will eventually lose their stripes altogether and just look olive brown, while females retain their stripes throughout their lives. Five lined skinks can be 5 – 8 inches long.


Adult males lose their stripes and their blue tail


The bright blue tail fades as the lizard ages

If you’re wondering how it is I came to find and photograph the TAIL I can tell you. If you’ve been following me for any length of time you may recall MANY, many posts ago I mentioned that I have two cats that I trained to wear a harness and walk on a leash outside. This allows them to go outside–a fact that they LOVE!– but also gives me the peace of mind that my cats are not wandering freely out there, killing everything in sight. In case you didn’t know, cats are amazing predators and even well-fed and well-loved cats will kill smaller animals–insects

Hobbes LOVES going outside!

Hobbes LOVES going outside!

, salamanders, frogs, rodents, birds, and you guessed it, lizards, when they get the chance.

So I was outside with one of my cats, named Hobbes after the lovable and wise tiger in the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. He was on a leash when all of a sudden he raced forward a few steps and grabbed an unsuspecting young lizard that was crawling near a stone wall. I intervened but not before Hobbes grabbed the lizard–and guess what? Its tail came off! And continued to thrash around wildly on the steps for several minutes, as if it were a live creature! It was moving wildly, like a worm suddenly set on pavement. Mother Nature is truly amazing right? I mean how perfect is that? Some bird or other predator, or in this case, my cat, saw the lizard and imagined lunch but the lizard had other ideas–offering up its tail while it scurried away to safety. What a great adaptation! The lizard lives to see another day and in time the lizard will regrow the tail and hopefully be a little wiser.


A young lizard with its bright blue tail suns itself on a wall.

Want to see some more puzzlers about animal TAILS? Here’s a puzzler that I did about another reptiles TAIL— –remember this one? Or another one–A  puzzler about the NOISE another animal’s tail makes?

Check out the next puzzler!

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  1. By Weekly Puzzler #121:Skinny Blue Worm? on August 13, 2016 at 11:01 am

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