One Lucky Lizard's Cross Country Trip

Ann Holt-Harris and her daughter Gail Fisher received quite a surprise while unpacking from their trip with The Nature Conservancy this past holiday season.

The mother-daughter duo decided to take a volunteer trip with the Conservancy to Muleshoe Ranch in Arizona upon Fisher’s return from three years of U.S. military service in Afghanistan. They had just returned home when Gail noticed something in her bag that she didn’t remember packing… a Clark’s spiny lizard!

Services Manager at Muleshoe Ranch Jeff Smith said the Clark’s spiny lizard is “notorious around here for getting into things. At night they like to hide, sleeping in perches during warmer weather. But as it cools off, we find them in shoes left outside and pants hanging to dry.”

Longtime supporter of the Conservancy, Holt-Harris knew she and her daughter had to do something to help protect the lizard.

“My daughter felt like it was her responsibility since it hopped in her suitcase,” Holt-Harris said. “So, she took in the lizard as a houseguest for the holidays, naming him DoDad and feeding him crickets.”

Having met Smith during their stay at Muleshoe, Holt-Harris called him to explain DoDad’s situation. As luck would have it, Smith had a friend passing through Chicago during the holidays. His friend picked up the lizard on his way back to Arizona.

“DoDad had taken well to captivity,” Smith said. “He was really fat and, for a species of normally subdued color, was nicely pigmented, which I took as a sign for good health.”

Just more than two months since his cross-country journey began, DoDad was released back into the Stone Cabin, a popular haven for lizards in the winter.

Thanks to teamwork across the nation, DoDad is now thriving at home safe and sound.

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