Bitten by an Alligator…Lizard!


– I’m Coyote Peterson. This is the southern
alligator lizard. And they’re called alligator
lizards for a reason. Ah! Ow, ow, ow! Yeah. (fast-paced suspenseful music) The Pacific coast
is an incredible
environment to explore. And on this adventure,
the crew and I were in the Santa Cruz
Mountains hoping to experience some of
its biological diversity. From towering redwood forests
to vast chaparral shrublands, the range of landscapes
presented countless
opportunities for encountering
the local wildlife, some of which is beautiful,
yet equally as creepy looking. That is the Jerusalem
cricket, nonvenomous, but they can give you
a pretty good bite. So I wanna be extra
careful handling this guy. And then there
are the encounters that happen so quickly, you
aren’t even prepared for them. I flipped over this board
over here, before the cameras could even get turned
on, found two little coast garter snakes
and I’m guessing these two snakes are probably
from the same clutch, so they could be brothers,
could be brother and sister. And they’re actually
pretty calm at this point. By the time, Mark, you
got the camera turned on, I was able to handle
’em a little bit, but right when I
first caught ’em, key defense tactic of this
snake is to poop on ya. So I got musked, yeah,
it stinks pretty bad. Say I’m a predator coming
into this environment, I see these snakes
on the ground, try to grab it, I’m
gonna get a mouthful of you know what, not
gonna taste very good, and then hopefully they
can make their escape. Very cool, two little
baby coast garter snakes. Gonna put ’em right
back under the board where they came from and
hopefully we’re gonna find somethin’ a
little bit bigger. Traversing through
the shrublands, there is one common lizard
species you can stumble upon and we happened to
find ourselves in
just the right place to experience the Pacific
coast’s tiny resident dragon. He’s just hunkered down. do you see?
– [Voiceover] What is it? – [Coyote] See his tongue stickin’ out?
– [Voiceover] No. – [Coyote] That is a
southern alligator lizard come on, right
there, pick it up. Now they’re not real quick. Look at him, he just,
he looks like a snake. His legs are tucked
right in close to him. Right there, look how
well he camouflages right into that dirt. Now these guys can
be pretty aggressive. Wow, look at him! The southern alligator lizard. All right, let’s take him up
here and into some better light and get some good
shots with him. What’s really interesting
about this lizard is look at the
size of that tail. Now this is a prehensile tail,
and it actually looks like, at some point in time,
oh, he’s poopin’ on me. Great, that’s another
defense mechanism, to poop if you’re handled. That’s one reason you
probably don’t wanna pick these lizards up if you
see ’em out there in the wild, but the real reason
that you don’t wanna try to come out and
pick up this lizard is that they will often
times pop their tail off. And this is called
caudal autonomy, which means that if
a predator comes in, like let’s say a raccoon or
a coyote, and tries to grab this lizard and bites
the tail, this lizard can pop its tail off and the
tail will keep flicking and moving around, but
the lizard can then escape and find
itself some safety. Now this tail will grow back,
but it will never grow back as long as it originally
was, and usually grows back as like a little nub,
and we wanna be as gentle as we possibly
can with this guy. Yeah, we don’t want that
tail poppin’ off, do we? These guys can give you a
pretty nasty little bite, of course, they’re
nonvenomous, oh look, there ya go, see how,
look at that tongue. Looks like a Komodo dragon
with that tongue stickin’ out. He’s sniffin’ me right now. He’s got, oh yeah,
you gonna bite? You gonna bite? Ooh, yeah, ah! That’s a pretty good
little bite there. Wow, look at that mark
they can put in my finger! Did you have to do that? He’s like, yeah, you put
your finger in my mouth, what’d you think
was gonna happen? Now this lizard is very,
very interesting feeling. He’s very smooth. The scales are a little rough,
but just the slender nature of his body allows
him to easily skirt through all of
this rough terrain. What I’m picking here,
this stuff is all covered in little prickers and spikes. And I’m kneelin’ in it,
it doesn’t feel good. But his body is like
armored plating. So he’s just kinda
weavin’ in and out of all these twigs and
those short little legs allow him to quickly move
through his environment. Look at that eye, I
mean, this little guy, he looks like a dragon. He’s got that dark black pupil, orange around the outside,
and that bright yellow. But it’s really the
scales on the head that are the most impressive. Go ahead and zoom in on that. Look at the top of his head. Now, he looks like an alligator, just the general
shape of his snout and those rugged, tough,
iron-looking scales on top of his skull, this
creature is built like a tank. – [Voiceover] Does he smell or? – He does, he stinks, he
pooped on me this little bugger and that’s what
happens if you come out and you try to catch
one of these lizards. If you don’t get bit,
you’re gonna get pooped on. And he dropped
bombs all over me. And it, man it’s bad. It smells like a dead fish
that’s been sittin’ in the sun for a few days. What are you been eatin’? Probably birds eggs,
it’s probably bird eggs that he pooped all over my hand. And you see, look, it’s
all dryin’ up on there. My hand’s gonna
stink for days now. What a cool experience,
getting up close with the southern
alligator lizard. I got bitten, I got
pooped on, and I found one of the coolest
creatures out here on the California coast. For me, this was right
place, right time. If you guys ever
just stumbled upon an awesome creature in the wild, tell me about it in the
comments section below. I’m Coyote Peterson,
be brave, stay wild. We’ll see ya on
the next adventure. (peaceful slow-paced music) If you thought that
was one wild adventure, make sure to subscribe to
the Brave Wilderness channel and check out these other
episodes so you can stick with us on this season
of Breaking Trail. (crunching of rocks) Can we look at your belly? Just for a second. All right, let’s
look at the belly. That belly is about
as silky smooth as it gets for a reptile. Yeah, you wanna
little belly rub? He’s got his eyes closed, too, I think he likes that. (animal chirping and growling)

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