Nightmare: Lizard crawls into open wound on man's leg

Seanan McGuire from northern California is a successful author of fantasy novels. But when she was younger she worked full-time in the ER of an animal shelter where her specialization was reptiles. All too often they had received lizards and snakes that the owners had bought on a whim and then abandoned when they realized how much work it was to take care of them.

One day in the mid-90s McGuire received a call from a local emergency clinic. The anxious voice on the other end of the line said, "There is a man here with a lizard in his leg."

McGuire thought she had misheard the caller, but it was obviously a case for reptile specialists so she and her team headed to the clinic. When they arrived, they were brought to a man lying on a stretcher — his right leg was covered in blood and the pain was written on his face. He was surrounded by several doctors, nurses and orderlies who appeared equally shocked and fascinated.

The animal rescuers were confused. What was the problem? Why wasn't anyone treating the man's wound? And where was the lizard they had heard about?

All of their questions were answered when a moment later a small lizard head poked out of the wound and glared menacingly at the surrounding onlookers.

"Please get it out," said one of the doctors. "It tried to bite a nurse."

They soon received an explanation for what had happened. The man had gone camping in a restricted area and woke up in the middle of the night to find an alligator lizard in his tent. When the animal crawled onto his leg, the man completely lost control and panicked.

He grabbed a knife and began stabbing at the lizard. Unfortunately for him, he missed the animal and ended up driving the knife deep into his own leg!

But to make matters worse, when the man pulled the knife out, the lizard followed its instincts and did what it normally would when threatened — it crawled into the nearest small opening, in this case the open wound. Once inside, the lizard turned itself so that its head faced the opening and staked out a defensive position.

And that's how the man ended up with a very angry alligator lizard in his leg wound.

The reptile was determined to protect its hideaway at all costs, and who can blame it? 

Seanan eventually went over to the man lying on the stretcher and greeted the little invader with a cool, "Howdy." She received a nasty little "hiss" in reply.

She began waving her finger provocatively in front of the reptile's face — and her plan worked like a charm. The lizard swiftly lunged at her gloved hand and bit down as hard as it could. Seanan quickly pulled away and dragged the lizard out of the wound. And there she stood with the alligator lizard still biting the glove while hanging in mid-air.

The rescuers named the lizard "Bowie" and carefully placed it in a transport box. The staff at the hospital and the wounded man thanked them for their help.

McGuire wishes now that they'd had the technology to capture the whole rescue on video. These days, at least one person would have had a smartphone on hand to film the whole thing. But this story will simply go down in history the old-fashioned way: by being told, retold, and hopefully believed.

Bowie lived another six years in a terrarium and by all accounts had a happy life. And the man who so stupidly stabbed himself while trying to kill a harmless animal? No one seems to know or care about what happened to him.




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