When Life Gives You Berries

I was driving home when I saw a handwritten, cardboard sign by the road, “Free Raspberries.” As a big berry lover I was not one to pass up this deal (especially when the sign uses my favorite four-letter word).

It didn’t bother me one bit that the berries were not, in fact, as advertised (black instead of red). After some washing and pureeing (with a bit of sugar) I ended up with four large jars of blackberry syrup. It’ll be perfect over ice cream or pancakes, as the base for bbq sauce, or even as a fruity mixer for drinks.


Helpful Hopper

I disturbed this Southern Toad’s (Anaxyrus terrestris) daily routine with one of my recent digging projects. I was pleased to discover this nocturnal hopper in my yard since they are known to devour roaches and other nighttime creepy crawlies.

As a true toad it is toothless, covered in warts, and sports two parotoid glands. An effective defense mechanism, the toad can secrete a toxin from these glands that deters predation.

Thankfully for dog owners, the Southern Toad’s poison is not nearly as powerful as that of the non-native Cane Toad (now found throughout Florida) or the Sonoran Desert Toad out west. Years ago, I had to rinse out the mouth of a dog that made the terrible mistake of trying to chew on one, Shelby never did that again!

Welcome to my ‘hood, little one. May you live long and prosper!

Things Are Not Always as They Appear

Met this Eastern Glass LizardĀ (Ophisaurus ventralis) in my backyard a couple days ago. At first glance I presumed it was a small snake, thankfully it let me take a photo before moving under my wood pile. A bit of research and I was surprised to learn this was actually one of the two legless lizard species found here in Florida.

The vertical white bars behind the head differentiate this one from the Slender Glass Lizard. The glass part of the name comes from their ability to break or shatter their tail as needed.

Unlike snakes, legless lizards have moveable eye lids and external ear openings but they lack flexible jaws (which limits the size of their prey). While they can reach lengths up to 42″ this one was relatively small (about 15″) so it probably eats mostly insects. A welcome addition to my yard for sure!