The Truth About The Yellow Spotted Lizard
What sets the yellow spotted lizard apart from other lizards? There are several things in fact. It is reported to have exactly eleven spots, it has red rings around its eyes, its bite is venomous and can even be fatal, and it doesn’t exist.
It’s A Character In A Book – Actually the yellow spotted lizard does exits in a sense; it exists in the mind of author Louis Sachar and is found in his wonderful and somewhat scary children’s book, Holes. In the book, a young boy named Stanley Yelnats is given the choice by a judge of either going to jail, or going to a correctional facility called Camp Green Lake. Stanley chooses what appears to be a pleasant sounding place. Camp Green Lake is in Texas, but it is not in fact particularly green, and the lake has long since dried up. It is hot, dry, and dusty, not a pleasant place to spend any amount of time. Stanley and an acquaintance he meets at the facility have a number of dangers to contend with, including scorpions, rattlesnakes, and Sachar’s deadly but fictional yellow spotted lizard. Fortunately the boys are able to protect themselves from the lizards by eating onions, which have a smell the lizards hate.
The book Holes has a large following and is regarded as an exceptional piece of children’s literature. The plot in the book has spawned a number of games, including trivia games, and you will even find educational aids for young children based upon the story line. The yellow spotted lizard of course plays a role in many of these games and aids. It has become so well known that it’s no wonder that many have come to believe that there actually is such a thing. One bit of trivia regarding Holes is that the hero’s name, Stanley Yelnats, is a palindrome.
Is There Anything Close? – One would think that in the real world there would be a species called for a spotted yellow lizard. After all, there are species of frogs, especially tree frogs, which come in bright colors. Some of them are even very poisonous. The same can be said for snakes. There are even some salamanders which are covered with yellow spots, but being amphibians and not reptiles, they don’t really count. The spotted yellow lizards seen in the movie Holes were actually bearded dragons, to which a little paint or makeup had been carefully applied. Gila monsters and several species of collar lizards, the Black collard lizard and the eastern collard lizard, do have some yellow spots on them.
The closest thing in the real world to the fictional yellow spotted lizard is probably the yellow spotted tropical night lizard – Lepidophyma flavimaculatum. Its habitat ranges from Central America to Central Mexico. It doesn’t quite make it up all the way to Texas. Whether Louis Sachar had this reptile in mind when he wrote is book has not been reported. The yellow spotted tropical night lizard is not poisonous but has a reputation for being very aggressive, and able to deliver an extremely painful bite. Not a good candidate for a pet. These are night creatures, fairly large, black in color, with a series of spots (more than 11) running along their sides. They have snake like heads and rough skin so can not be said to be terribly attractive.
Eat Your Onions – There have been a number of questions on the Internet regarding the yellow spotted lizard, many no doubt from people wondering if such a deadly creature exists and where one might find (or avoid) one. Certainly the folks in Texas with their rattlers, scorpions, killer bees and fire ants, don’t need a yellow spotted lizard added to the mix. If the creature were found to truly exist, we could at least find some solace in the knowledge that by eating plenty of onions we could keep them away, and probably many other creatures as well.