DO YOU DO WITH TOO MANY SKINKS?
The great thing about this time of year is that I get to see a lot more natural phenomena unfold out of doors, and the ecological questions about plants and animals come in daily from a variety of people. A second great thing is that I am certain that many of the questions being asked are revealing about people's changing attitudes toward our native wildlife, from negative and ignorant to positive and enlightened. The following is one I received last week.
Q. - I was
looking around your reptile and amphibian website (www.uga.edu/srelherp)
to find some information on a certain kind of lizard. I believe I have
a small family of these lizards at our new home here in Columbia, SC.
Based on your pictures the lizard is a broad-headed skink. I am very concerned
that we have a family of these living close to our house and was wondering
if there is a way to get rid of them, or to remove them without harming
them. We have a small child, and although you indicate that some people
falsely believe skinks have a venomous stinger, you say they are harmless
to people. However, maybe these beliefs are true. Is there anything that
you know of that we can do in order to remove them from our property?
In protection of my child, I just don't believe that they should be hanging
around like the geckos we have outside of the house as well. If there
is any information you can give me that would be greatly appreciated.
Now this query about lizards has two features I find very encouraging. First, the mother did not immediately call an exterminator or try to eliminate the skinks herself. Instead, she searched for some information about what kind of animal she was observing, figured out what kind of lizard it was from the website, and then pursued if further by inquiring. The second positive part is that she sent a followup email that stated: "Thank you very much for informing me on skinks a little more. Glad to know that they are not harmful. I'm a woman who loves nature and will do just about anything not to harm something as long as I know it will not do any harm to my child in the long run."
the way environmental education should work. Nature is too complex for
any of us to know everything. But taking an unprejudiced approach of finding
out the true danger of something and then discovering, as is usually the
case, that they are completely or mostly harmless, can help anyone get
more enjoyment out of the natural world.