Adopting a house lizard

Small lizards are very common in the Florida Keys, as elsewhere in the state. I have seen them in many places, including Vietnam, Greece, the Seychelles, Nicaragua and Cuba. Usually a few inches long, and greyish-brown in colour, they lie on flat surfaces soaking up the sunshine. The little geckos and anoles are often called "house lizards," and they eat things like grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches and spiders, along with ants and insects.

One took up residence in my house on Ramrod Key. It would scuttle up the walls or across the ceiling, usually interspersing periods of rapid movement with long rests. I grew quite attached to it. Floridians generally leave them alone, regarding them as cute, and valuing their role in controlling insects.

I never gave my one a name, though a friend told me that his children who stayed there had christened it Lizzie. I never knew whether it was male or female. I often let friends stay at my house in my absence, leaving a set of instructions on how everything worked, and in capital letters one of these instructed them not to harm the lizard. No-one ever did.