The other day we looked out on the patio and saw something that moved like a snake but was small like a lizard. It was faster than brown anoles move, but very slithery looking. I ran out to see what it was and discovered it was a skink. We don't see more than a couple of skinks a year around here and they're often so fast that you can't get a photo of them.
This poor little skinky sucker was stuck on the inside of our screened-in patio and was frantically trying to find a way out so I was able to capture him on camera.
I believe he's a Southeastern Five-Lined Skink, which is pretty unremarkable as far as skinks go. Juveniles have a bright blue tail. Adults usually have browner tails. That website I just linked to says that they are not poisonous, but leave a bad taste in predators' mouths. I'm not sure I buy that.
Anyone that lives around skinks has heard stories of cats eating skinks and getting very sick and then going crazy. I wonder if it's the urban legend of the Floridian cat-owner's world, but I'm more apt to believe it. I found plenty of stories online about people whose cats ate a skink and then got a case of lizard brain. Everyone I know knows someone who ended up with a cat with lizard brain.
I found one very captivating story from Gulfshore Life magazine, a prominent magazine in Southwest Florida. The story "The War Between Cats and Skinks", says that the author's cat ate a skink and almost died. It then ended up with a serious case of "lizard brain," a term used to describe a cat after they eat a skink. When a cat gets lizard brain they walk like they're drunk or wobble their head from side to side and can't jump well anymore. It never fully goes away. The cat is always a little "off" after the skink-nibbling experience.
We have two inside cats who like to spend time on our patio. The idea of them ending up with lizard brain did not appeal to us at all. As soon as I yelled to Farmer B "It's a skink!" he yelled back "Quick! Get the cats inside!" We then chose to keep them off the patio for the rest of the day and the following morning just in case the skink came back. Are we victims of a false belief in an urban legend or is lizard brain real? I know where my vote goes. Those skinks might be pretty to look at, but I'm convinced they're a slithery enticing poison to cats.