Intro: Build a Backyard Lizard Condo
I recently had to clear out an old fire wood pile by our home. It had become infested with pack rats. If you have never had pack rats, count yourself lucky. These nasty creatures are actually kind of cute, but man-o-man are they ever destructive. Our adventure with this vermin began when we started hearing foot steps on the bedroom ceiling every morning at 5 AM. Just like an alarm clock, it was loud. I was sure we had a beaver, or maybe a raccoon. I don't know, we are city folk. I plugged all the access holes and set some traps, the noise did not return. I thought "problem solved" and It was, for a week. It was a warm afternoon and we were all set to head out to do some shopping. I opened my car door to a terrible stench, there on my seat, was a stiff and stinky, very dead, pack rat. It had eaten its way through the firewall following some air conditioner lines and apparently could not find its way out. Yea. Rat poop all over the inside of the car. Not one of my better days, the wood pile had to go.
So what does this have to do with lizards you ask. You see, the co-inhabatants of the wood pile where a large colony of lizards. This is a creature that I dearly love, and the destruction of their habitat bothered me a lot. So started my journey of building replacement homes for lizards. This with the goal of using salvaged materials that would cost very little, yet still stand the test of time.
Step 1: What Do Lizards Like?
Any Realtor will tell you, "you have to know your target market" So what does a lizard look for when shopping for a new home? Warmth, security, shelter from predators. Must be close to food and water sources. Cover for movement and easy access to sunny basking spots. You know, same as you and I. Doing a little research, I found common lizards prefer cracks and crevices between 5 mm and 10 mm in height that are located in an area warmed by morning sun. This helps the cold blooded reptile get started in the morning. Kind of like a double espresso shot for me.(My wife says I am not cold blooded, but my feet tell a different story.) Wood piles are good but attract vermin. Piles of rock are good, especially if PVC pipes are imbedded to add additional crevices. Neither of these were an option for me as I wanted to use recycled material that would not support vermin. Wandering around, I came to the tile pile. We have a lot of this leftover from various projects. It hit me, tile would be easy to stack in layers that would have the right sizing for our habitat. It has the thermal storage of rock, and is impervious to predators and vermin. So simple!
Step 2: Build Your Lizard Condo
I built mine using 5 pieces of 18" x 18" floor tile, any size would work. All layers except the top were built with the rough side up to give better footing. I used small leftover decorative tiles for the spacers. Depending on which side is used, they are 8 mm or 15 mm in height. On the bottom layers I used 8 mm spacing and for the top penthouse floor 15 mm. I used water proof construction adhesive. Epoxy or silicon would work well. Mortar or mastic probably will not stick well to the finished tile face.
Step 3: Installation
Find a sheltered area with morning sun. Place your condo. Sit back and watch the new tenants move in!