As Cute As They Come
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I made my usual hike in Sabino Canyon this morning. I was poking along a trail when something at the edge of the dirt pathway caught my eye. At first, I thought it was an insect, but when I looked closely I realized that it was an infant Zebra-tailed Lizard, very likely one that had hatched only weeks ago. The tiny lizard was perhaps 1 1/4 inches long from the nose to the tip of its tail, as small as any reptile I’ve ever seen.
In appearance it resembled a miniature version of an adult Zebra-tailed Lizard except that its head was very large in proportion to its body.
Adult Zebra-tailed Lizards are extremely shy. They generally run when approached and they are difficult to photograph for that reason. This baby lizard, however, was virtually fearless in my presence. It obviously hadn’t learned much about the dangers posed by predators. It was scampering around in the dirt, patrolling an area of about a square meter, almost certainly looking for insects or other small invertebrates to eat. I sat down only a couple of feet away and it paid me no attention whatsoever.
I observed and photographed it for about about five minutes and during that entire time it was essentially heedless of my presence. To give an idea of just how tiny this lizard is, that rock that it is perching on in the second photograph is about the size of a ping pong ball.
After a while, I left it, still foraging.
At this stage of its life this little lizard has a lot to learn. All sorts of predators — birds, some mammals, other reptiles, even tarantulas — would be quite happy to make a meal out of it. If it survives this early stage it will grow to an adult length of six inches or so and will become much wiser and warier.
Images made with a Canon 5DS-R assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, M setting, ISO 200. The first and third images were shot at f20 @ 1/160, the second image was shot at f16 @ 1/160.