Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Why I am here

Last night I dreamed that there were crickets breeding and multiplying in my bedroom. In a panic I began stomping on the hordes of insects as they were crawling up my legs. I woke up in a sweat, opened my eyes, took a deep breath and breathed in the unpleasant woodsy aroma of crickets. Yes, they really are breeding and multiplying in my "bedroom". I wouldn't be surprised if one of the stray crickets I see roaming around the apartment crawled up my legs last night. I'm sleeping on my brother Moose's couch here in Lubbock Texas. There is a large tupperware container under his "dining room table" containing living, multiplying bite sized bearded dragon meals 6 feet from where I sleep. On top of the table are 2 aquariums home to a desert king snake and a bull snake my brother found in "the field".
In this large 2 bedroom apartment my brother rents for 400 smackers (can you believe it?) one bedroom door is always (thankfully) closed. What is behind door number 2? Only 14 adult breeding bearded dragons, 22 newly hatched babies, a tub full of crickets and a really really bad smell. In Moose's bedroom are 2 incubators housing a total of 75 bearded dragon eggs, some which are hatching. In one, a tiny head with large closed eyes is emerging from its white leathery pouch. Its super sweet. You can check out hatching pictures and totally awesome wildlife pictures at
I must add---although this is a very "familial" living situation coming from my Germanic, orderly bf, Jurij's apartment, its a bit of a shock! I myself like to keep my hypothetical apartment in a state somewhere (and Ill be very nebulous about where) between the two!
Anyway, Bearded dragons are desert lizards native to Australia. They are usually pale in color and grow no bigger than 2 feet. They have cute triangular heads, a sweet disposition and a flat body evolved perfectly for fitting into rock crevaces to escape their enemies. Because the light skin below their heads turns brown when they are upset or interested in the opposite sex they are aptly named, BD. Popular as pets and easy to breed, my brother makes some easy dough selling the lizards to pet stores.
Most of you know that the Goldfarbs are a reptile (and amphibian) family. We would have been an all other creatures gracing the earth as well family if it weren't for all the stuffy noses, watery eyes and shortness of breath, ect. suffered from close encounters of the furry kind.
Reptiles and amphibians have been walking the Goldfarb house since the beginning of my brothers time. Before him we had birds (which are reptiles).
Moose's unusual interest began as soon as he could walk and stuff small creatures into his pockets. His childhood was spent from sun up to sun down at the ponds catching frogs, salamanders, turtles and fish. Always extremely focused, by the time he was 8 he was already an expert herpetologist. (Herpetology is the study of reptiles and amphibians excluding birds and is a test question).
20 years later, he is at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas catching Texas horned lizards for his PhD project. Not much has changed since then except his interest in girls. His thesis is on the geographic variation of Texas HL. Basically he is studying the differences in morphology, habitat selection and home range size between several Texas horned lizard populations. This is important for conservation and management. The THL is a Texas state threatened animal.
And I'm here to help!!!! Yay! I'm here in Texas because I wanted to chill out with my brother and he needs an extra assistant to help him catch lizards. Perfect!
Yesterday we drove out to the Beach Ranch, an 8,000 acre property owned by guess who, the Beaches! 5 hours of searching produced 3 THLs., one of which I found and am very proud. We also saw a couple spade foot toads, barn and burrowing owls, a bob white quail, extremely cute prairie dogs, and a Kansas glossy snake to name a few. If I was there by myself I would have said that I saw some birds, some frogs a snake and a 2 Texas horned lizards. At least I know what they (THLs) look like!

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