Okay, I don't know for real whether they smell bad or not; it's just that I'm not liking them much lately.
Ever seen a skink? The proper name for them is Plestiodon (which makes them sound a bit like dinosaurs). They look sleek and shiny; and their bright blue tails are kinda pretty. They move surprisingly fast; and they sorta slither like snakes, even though they have feet. The local South Mississippi guys are Southeastern Five-lined Skinks or Plestiodon inexpectatus.
(picture credit: http://www.louisianaherps.com)
I'm not a reptile/amphibian fan but I live and let live generally. For example, I really enjoy watching busy anole lizards (as long as they aren't hitching rides on my car--which seems to happen rather a lot actually--read this: A Stowaway. And this: Dear Green Scaly Daredevil), and I don't even mind the bold little tree frogs that love to bug-hunt and then poop all over the windows of my house.
Skinks are shy, though, and they've never bothered me much before. Oh, there was one that used to live under my desk when I worked at an arboretum; I swear it had a sense of humor because it came zipping out from under the desk at the worst moments to startle me (usually when I was carrying a mug of hot coffee). Despite my best efforts, I never could encourage that creature to move elsewhere.
I have sometimes seen skinks in my yard during the years that I've lived here but not too very often. The past few weeks have been something different, though. It seems like every time I step off my back stair, there's a skink or two scurrying ahead of me. Just a little while ago there was a skink parked on my office window, and he would not shift no matter how many times I patted the glass (I was worried that he would get caught in a large cobweb nearby but I should know by now that you can't deter a determined skink). It was the very first time I've seen a skink on a window. Odd. I really thought that the skinks around here tended to be fossorial, not arboreal (to put it more simply: diggers rather than climbers).
The skink that ticked me off was another matter entirely:
It was in my bedroom.
And it had no business being there.
Perhaps I might have minded less if the skink hadn't been lurking in precisely the same place where I found a young water moccasin (a deadly poisonous snake) several years ago. That snake was only about 10 inches from my foot at the time. I was not pleased. Every time I have gone into the bedroom since, I have compulsively checked that spot for snakes and I probably will continue to do so until I expire. Seeing a slithery skink in the identical location was Not good. The skink was so speedy that I couldn't catch him--he just shot under the bed as quick as a wink.
And, yeah, I'm a wimp. I can't make myself touch reptiles. I tried to catch him with a glass mixing bowl. Works with anoles and frogs but the skink figured out my plan right away. That intrusive pesky Plestiodon is still in the house somewhere--hopefully no longer under my bed, especially now that I realize that they like to climb.
Plestiodon inexpectatus indeed.
I sure wouldn't have expected it.
I can only conclude that they've decided it's time to regain dinosaur status. The skinks are taking over!
Life is good.....if you're a skink.