The closest stop sign is over a mile away and the first traffic light is 5+ miles down the road. A visit to the grocery store is almost 30 miles round trip. It's quiet here; just the sound of toads and coyotes at night. It seems very still, but when you look close there's always something happening. Read on about a few things we've noticed over the past few years.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Horny Toad

Despite the name it's not a toad, it's a lizard. 

It has a distinctive flat-body with a row of fringed scales down the sides and horns on the head.  It's shape reminded me of a turtle because of the round body and head.  This one, from head to tail, was less than two inches long.  Tiny and adorable!  He made a tiny little squeak noise when I got too close. Their favorite food is ants but they will also eat slow moving beetles, spiders, and some plant material.  These lizards mate in the spring and lay 2-16 eggs in June or July, which hatch in August.

They are generally a gentle species, but have been known to try to push their cranial spines into the hand while held. If provoked, they hiss and threaten to bite. When excited, they puff themselves up with air, making themselves look bigger. 

The giant "bolders" next to this lizard are bunny poop. 
That should give you an idea of his size.

And here's the kicker: if threatened, they have been known to squirt blood from their eyes as far as 5 feet as a deterent to cats and dogs.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Wild pink

I have no idea what kind of plant this is.  It looks to grow about 10 ft high.   They grow all over around this area.  The flowers turn yellow as they die.  The plant leaves, branches, and flowers are so soft looking I couldn't resist snapping this photo. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

scorpion in a can

The nephew caught it outside and threw it in this old can and showed it to me. The scorpion is kind of small - only about 3 inches
(yes, three inches is small, gentlemen)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

dead snake

We found and killed this the first few days we lived in Gavilan Hills.  It was before I knew the differences between snakes.  This is a "good" snake.  This is a California King snake.   It can grow to 48" with a girth of 5". Even though the name suggests they are common in California they're also found in Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.  This snake species usually lives in a desert-like habitat as well as coastal areas and pine forests. The California King snake tends to hide away during very hot days despite living in the desert, and instead comes out at night.  When seasonal temperatures drop they become more active during the day. They eat small reptiles including frogs, lizards, small birds and rodents; however they are known to also eat other snake species. In addition, if they are surprised or get disturbed they can produce a similar rattle to a rattle snake.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Aloe Vera plant

Found this giant Aloe Vera plant growing wild out of the top of this rock.  The top of the rock was at least 5 ft, putting the plant up to about 10 ft in the air.   I wish I could transplant the rock and the plant onto my property. 
I think it's quite interesting.