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Chamaeleo jacksonii from the pet trade. Frozen lizards courtesy of paleontologist, Sterling Nesbitt. Skeletonized in Chicago, July 2013. Archived in my personal collection. Four specimens in series.

After I skinned and eviscerated this chameleon quartet, I left them to dry on the beetle room floor. The bodies were a little decomposed and it was a hot day so naturally, I became hungry. I washed, made lunch and brought it to my comfortable couch to eat it. As I ate, I noticed that the smell of rotten lizard was intensifying. The wind? Lunch finished, I returned to the beetle room and was unprepared for the incredible shock of discovering empty space where my chameleons had lain. WHAT?! I was alone in my apartment. Then I remembered that pet owners are never truly alone. But my cat Petri was flipped over on his back, asleep, looking absurd but innocent. His deep, ragged snores alibied him. This was no shallow nap, he'd been like this for awhile. Angelica however, seemed a likely culprit. What had she done with my lizards?! I called out her name and tapped on the floor. No response. She only ignores me when she's doing something important. I called her again and this time she came bounding over to me from beneath the couch, her whiskers clean and her fur glossy and tan. I scooped her up and she vigorously nuzzled and licked my fingers while I surveyed hers for blood... There. Maroon flecks, caught under her nails. Angelica, by the way, is a domestic rat who lives in her cage only part of the time. I searched the couch area and quickly found my chameleons where she'd sloppily hidden them, behind the folds of a floor-length curtain. Stuck to the carcasses were cracker crumbs, stale cat food kibbles and bits of shredded mail. This meant that like a tiny beige ghoul, my rat had smuggled a decomposing reptile across my apartment, to the curtain, dragging it directly underneath me not once, but four disgusting times! I re-claimed my chameleons from Angelica's unruly stash of priceless rat treasures and returned them to the beetle room, this time closing the door all the way...

Above, one lizard thief, one cat.

Dear Diary,

It's 2009 and there's something that I've been thinking about... it's about snakes of course.


Can snakes accurately gauge the height of a crevice that they are considering squeezing themselves beneath?


Do snakes have a mechanism to prevent mis-judgement of the size of an opening?


Can a snake prevent the problem of becoming stuck in a crevice? They should because a snake cannot travel backwards in a straight line. This means that one incorrect assessment would indomitably cost it its life by starvation if it not first by predation. I am not aware of this problem an it would seem that if a preventative mechanism did not exist, populations would suffer high losses.


If there is no mechanism for preventing a snake from attempting too-small crevices, snakes would probably HAD to have evolved a way to travel backwards because a given species of nearly any snake (give the exeptions) utilize crevices of


Testing: species that encounter very little or no crevice entry avoid small crevices at a lower success rate than species that commonly travel through crevices (garters, rock, structure-dwelling species).


Little or no crevice entry species/test species:

-Sea snakes (cannot personally handle. But would be a GREAT example. Look into getting data, particularly if the easier to attain sand snakes agree with hypothesis).

-extreme desert-dwellers (rubber boas, sand boas/Kenyan sand boas),

-swamp snakes

-tree snakes (though necessity/adeptness of depth/dimension perception may compensate for this. If true crevice-less snakes prove less successful than crevice snakes, will fit).


If this mechanism exists, is it a feature of all snakes or is it restricted to groups whose habitats and behavior calls for it?






Red=verify and reference

Blue=check vocabulary

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