Bad Dad: No such thing as free coffee or a free lizard

August 20, 2011|By Matt Murray
  • Phoebe Murray checks out the Southern alligator lizard named Raptor.
Phoebe Murray checks out the Southern alligator lizard… (Courtesy Matt Murray,…)

Considering the number of different creatures that have taken up residency in our home over the years, I'm strongly considering contacting the Discovery Channel to see if we could star in our own reality show.

We have owned a bulldog, a couple of betta fish, several grasshoppers and countless butterflies. We helped rescue several injured animals, including a baby kitten, an old dog and a sea gull. We've baby-sat frogs, dogs, turtles and a desert tortoise. We've had infestations ofbees, spiders and crickets. We've been visited by families of ducks, skunks and squirrels.

Every time an animal crosses our gate, I have always tried to turn it into a learning experience for the kids. Sometimes, my excitement gets to be too much, as was the case last weekend.

We were watching some small reptiles for a friend who was on vacation, and we were running out of crickets. My wife informed me that I should go buy some more, and gave me five bucks.


But why pay money for something when you can get it for free? Our patio is a haven for crickets and, seeing a possibility for making a small profit, I decided to grab a net and start hunting. Armed with an old bamboo net and with my daughter following behind with the insect jug, we started kicking over every rock and patio chair, capturing nice, fat (and free) crickets.

I could already taste the iced mocha I was going to use my $5 on later.

After awhile, we were running out of places to look. I decided to move the two-story play castle on the patio, where many of the surviving crickets had headed. The base of the castle is usually filled with water so it won't tip over when the kids are playing on top. Ours is missing the plug and was only filled halfway with stagnant water, so it wasn't too heavy. As I was about to rock the castle back and forth, I spotted a lizard that was taking advantage of the influx of crickets, doing some hunting of its own.

I told my daughter to go grab an acrylic cage that we had kept some painted lady butterflies in previously. As she returned, the lizard made a break for it, and I clamored after it. In the excitement, the lizard slipped inside the base of the castle, plopping in the nasty water.

"Is it going to die in there in the water, Daddy?" my daughter asked, her brown eyes starting to well with tears.

"I think so, honey," I said, apologetically.

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