Creature Visitors to my Garden


The other day I opened my front door and was delighted to see a stunningly beautiful five-lined skink sunning herself on the warm bricks. She shows well with her five lightly colored stripes that run from her nose down to her tail. I am hoping she is pregnant and will find a nice rock in my garden under which she can lay her eggs. I suspect she is attracted here because there are plentiful spiders, snails, and slugs for her to eat as well as lots of leaf mulch which is her favorite place to hang out. The skink is smooth with shiny scales and is about 8 inches long. One of the most interesting adaptations of the five-lined skink is their response to danger from predators. When a skink feels threatened, they are able drop their tail off. Then, while the fallen tail is thrashing about and getting the attention of the predator, the skink runs for shelter. And, yes, the tail will grow back.

I consider it a good day when I see a black snake in the garden. They are eating rats, mice, voles, and moles throughout the neighborhood. Once I saw a rat in my compost and two days later I saw a black snake in the same area. Thankfully, I have never seen a rat since. Black snakes in Maryland are not venomous and, when threatened, they will freeze or retreat and often live in rock brush piles. I would never pick them up or bother them but greatly appreciate their presence.

Some days when I’m out in the garden, I hear the chatter of chipmunks nearby and know that something must be threatening them. The birds are listening too because they know to build their nests high enough that the chipmunks can’t reach their eggs. These adorable little creatures spread seeds and fungi around the forest. They sleep in self-made burrows that are often 3 feet deep. At the end of the burrow is a carefully padded soft mattress for sleeping.

At the edge of my gentle fountain, 2 green frogs have found a pleasant place to hang out and watch for insects to eat. One of the frogs is really shy and jumps in the water every time I go near. The other is more relaxed and stays put hoping for an insect catch.

My success in being lucky enough to attract these useful visitors is possibly because I never use any toxic chemicals and I use an abundance of leaf mulch. Also, there is a plentiful water supply and many insects for them to eat.