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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

February 24, 2012

Lipstick on a Lizard

By Elizabeth Creith


Anyone else here old enough to remember “Laugh-In” and Lily Tomlin's character Edith Ann who always kissed her dog Buster right on the lips? Dogs are one thing, but there are just some animals that you're not supposed to kiss on the lips. Nature indicated which ones by giving them really unkissable lips; lips that not even Revlon or Cover Girl could make kissable.

I had a bearded dragon for a few years. I got him when someone dropped him off because her kid was tired of looking after him.

"Can you sell it?" she asked. "I don't want anything. Just take it off my hands."

"Sure," I said. The lizard looked fat and happy, or as happy as a lizard ever looks, and there wouldn't be any trouble finding someone to buy such a healthy animal.

"Could you sell my kid, too?" she asked. "He's just getting on my nerves."

Bearded dragon

"Sorry, ma'am," I said, "it's against the bylaws in Sault Ste Marie for us to sell primates."

"Non-human primates," David corrected me.

"Fine, non-human primates. But we still can't take your child, ma'am, because the laws of Canada forbid selling humans, and anyway we don't have a big enough terrarium for him. Besides, by the time we sold him, we'd probably have put so much into him in food and cleaning costs that we wouldn’t make anything."

"I hear ya," she said.

"Try Spruce Haven Zoo," I suggested, "They sometimes take larger animals people don't want anymore."

When she left, I set the lizard up in a terrarium and decided I'd keep him myself. He became a bit of a store mascot. He sucked up crickets and newborn mice and never objected to being held. We often let people handle him to see how nice and calm a pet a beardie could be.
It never, ever occurred to me that anyone would think of kissing him. Then Creepy Man came in.

He was well-groomed, reasonably articulate and not an obvious candidate for therapy—which cannot be said of me every day. But there was something about him that made my skin crawl, and I was glad to have David within call. He oohed and aahed over the beardie and asked if he could hold him. I got the beardie out.

My lizard perched in complete unconcern on this new shoulder. It was warm, the quality he most liked in a perch, so he was happy. Then Creepy Man turned his head, pursed his lips and made smoochy noises at my lizard, and I had a sudden premonition.

See, the human lower lip, when stuck out and making smoochy noises, looks and sounds quite a lot like a newborn mouse. From warm-and-calm mode, my beardie suddenly went into is-that-food? mode. In the tilt of his head I saw the future, and it was full of screaming and blood and probably lawsuits.

I snatched the beardie away and Creepy Man, deeply offended, stalked out, never to return. I was relieved on all counts.

I gave the lizard a pinky mouse, just because I felt somehow that he deserved it. I did not give him a kiss.

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