Thursday, 13 October 2005

Lizards Bite Back

It took me a couple of years to gain the confidence of this timid little chap, Khan, before he would automatically come home when he was hurt or scared. Yesterday, not only did he come to find me when he needed me, he then went straight to the bathroom to get treatment.

When I first found these three abandoned kittens, Khan was not at all sure he wanted to be rescued and took a bit of catching. Once I had done so, the first thing he did when I put my hand inside the box was to rear up on his hind legs - all 4 1/2 inches of him - and spit at me.

Then he fiercely bit my finger.

I knew then that he was going to need a lot of love and coaxing and I set out to give him lots of gentle handling every day.

A year later, a storm scared him badly, he ran off and was missing for five days. Five, very long, anguish-filled days. Eventually, when the weather improved, he came out from wherever he'd crawled to hide (he was dry, but very dusty) and I saw him coming up the path. Anyone who has ever had a pet go missing will have some idea of the relief I felt that day.

And when I say a year later, I mean a year.

I - I should actually say we, because it was the dog who discovered them first - found the kittens at 7 p.m. on May 3, 2001.

The afternoon Khan went missing was May 3, 2002.

The very same hour of the very same day that I'd found them my friend and neighbour - from whose cats they may be descended - had died (at only 47). So it was all eerie and omen filled to begin with.

Slowly, bit by bit, we've progressed over the years since then.

Khan still startles easier than the others and usually hides somewhere if there are strangers about. He takes longer than the others to get used to it when my mother comes to stay and, he even gives me a wide berth at first whenever I don't "smell right" after a shower.

I tell you this so you have some idea how "special" it was when he comes in meowing for my assistance and runs straight to the bathroom after he's attracted my attention, dragging the remaining half of the lizard that he'd caught, that had bitten back into the pad of his paw and was still attached.

Gross. I don't much like whole lizards!

Still, for his sake, I kept my calm (with considerable difficulty).

Lizard removed, paw washed and iodined, Khan is fine and seems surprisingly unperturbed. Please, someone congratulate me! LOL!

What I certainly hope this means is that he will catch less lizards in future. The first time we discovered that these lizards bite was when one "caught" Betty - it had attached itself to the back of her leg.

That time it was whole, alive and still biting. Betty took off, screaming, while dancing furiously in a circle, backwards, around the patio. There was nothing I could do. She would be impossible to catch and impossible to handle (she's really a wild panther), if I could.

We also hadn't been in the area very long, so I had no idea if it could be venomous or do her any serious damage. So I phoned the vet - just in case. He laughed and said, "No, but she's just discovered that they bite back!"

Over six years later and I have NEVER seen her with a lizard since.

Cross fingers!

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