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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/181

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169
THE PINE-TREE LIZARD.

ing in the bottom, then three above it, and four in the third tier. Such was the position in two sets of eggs, while the others were scattered over the sand in bewildering confusion. None of these hatched, the failure to do so, inasmuch as they were fertile, being due, I believe, to the surroundings being too dry. Probably a certain amount of decaying vegetable matter is mingled with the sand when the eggs are laid, and thus a moist heat is produced, which is as necessary as it is in the case of the eggs of the alligators and crocodiles.

The ova laid by my penned lizards were long, narrow, covered with a tough skin, free from calcareous matter, and varied in weight from twenty to twenty-four grains. At May's Landing, I am told, the eggs are usually laid about June 1st, and hatch about July 10th.

While the abandonment of their eggs in this apparently heartless manner leads to the supposition that they are indifferent to their offsprings' welfare, which is true, it is somewhat interesting to notice how very tolerant they are of the petty annoyances to which their own or another's young subject them. My observations on this point were made from a number of young and old confined in a roomy Wardian case, but probably what I there saw holds good among the lizards in their native haunts. I am sure it did among the many living on the old trestle at May's Landing. Often a little lizard, and sometimes two, would perch upon the head and back of an adult, and there be allowed to sit for fully an hour. The sharp claws of these youngsters seemed at times dangerously near the eyes and ears of the patient old one, but it offered no resistance, and, when I forced such burdened lizards to move, it was always with a deliberateness that suggested that they were really averse to disturbing those resting upon them. Again, adults would often rest upon each other, in what appeared to be a most uncomfortable manner for the one beneath, often pressing the head of the latter into the sand and completely blinding it for the time; yet I never saw the slightest evidence of ill-humor, not even when they were being fed. Often it happened that some sleepy fellow would quietly snap up the fly toward which another lizard was cautiously crawling, yet no fight ensued. Anything more trying than this to humanity can not be imagined, yet the lizards took every such occurrence as a matter of course.

In running, as well as when walking about deliberately, which they less often do, the lizard brings all four limbs equally into play, and their gait is much like that of a cat. When progress is suddenly arrested, they usually squat upon their hind-limbs only, holding their head well up and elevating the body, as does a cat or dog, by keeping the fore-limbs straight. Every attitude is suggestive of intelligence, and I refer particularly to the matter, be-