I learnt the four Ps of the lizard world
We've had a pet lizard living with us for more than 2 years. I've learnt how he thinks, and he's clearly very impressed with my mating habits.
It's hard to imagine, but lizards make interesting pets, at least, the type we have is a good pet. It is a protected native animal of Australia - a Bearded Dragon - for which we have a wildlife permit to keep at home.
They can be toilet-trained!
They aren't exactly cuddly, and they sometimes stay motionless for hours, but they know their way around, and amazingly they can be toilet-trained.
The fact that they can be toilet-trained gave me my initial clues about what senses they have and how their brain works.
The four Ps of the lizard brain
Lizards evolved on earth about 250 million years ago.
Having got to know one, up close, it staggers me how they have survived that long. There is something working for them that is beyond my comprehension. Here's what I do know.
Our guy translates everything into the Four Ps - this is the lizard brain:
Starting from the back end - poop - I was puzzled by how much he panicked immediately after he pooped. He is never more active. Not just active, but fear.
I realised that he figured that, like him, others can smell his poop - predators. So I deduced that he has a sense of smell. (Whereas he does not seem to have a sense of hearing). Survival means putting as much distance between himself and his poop as quickly as possible.
This instinct is the foundation of their toilet training.
He will wake up and start to move about and look for somewhere away from where he sleeps. If he is resting on my chest, he will begin to get agitated. We put him outside, and he performs like clockwork. Then we move him away e.g. bring him back inside for a bath.
Sense of smell - how they track their pathways
He knows his way around the house and has pathways that he marks with his tongue. That's further confirmation that smell is a crucial sense.
For example, when he is ready to sleep he will make his way along his marked pathways to the top of a small electrical transformer in our living room and spread out on top.
The sense he uses most for detecting prey and predators is his sight. I don't believe that he can see objects clearly, but his eyes and brain seem to be built to detect motion.
When he stays as still as a rock for an hour, I am convinced that he believes that he is invisible.
He loves my mating dances
Which leads to the fourth P - Partners.
How does he find them? It seems that his ability to detect movement of predators and prey translates into attracting a mate. I googled and found that they have hand signals which communicate readiness and dominance.
He is in awe of me because every day I run, and I warm-up and warm-down in front of our house, where he watches through the window. He sees me doing ten minutes of jiggling and jumping before I go, and something similar when I get back.
The lizard brain is impressed!
I can't dance, but he doesn't know that. He thinks "Wow, this guy really knows how to attract a mate - he never stops!!!". As I sit down next to his window and take off my shoes, I'm sure I've seen him smile at me.
It's hard to create a bond with a lizard, but I reckon we two have a best buddies' understanding.
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