Larenti is now demonstrating without concern for her image that she is a capable huntress.
Were I to be brutally honest, I suspect she is to blame for the baby bunny butchery that took place earlier this year (see this, this, and this for details). I can’t prove it, no, but I have my suspicions. In truth, though, I also have my doubts given some of the circumstances, but still. . .
I’ve seen her give chase, catch, torment, and finally consume a great many creatures. Most of them were bugs. Some of them were not.
I’ve rescued lizards and frogs from her deadly predation. I’ve discovered carrion from a myriad of species tucked discretely and not so discretely away on the patio.
The list goes on.
The point I’m making is that she’s a cat. She’s doing what cats do: hunt. All felines do it; only the domestic variety hunts such a wide array of quarry, though, and more than any other cat species, and a great deal more than any other predatory species. They are what they are: carnivores of the first degree, evolved to successfully catch, kill, and consume darting prey.
So when I stepped outside about a week ago and saw her intently motionless in the “I’m gonna getcha!” stance, her body low to the ground, her eyes and ears unwavering in their precision-guided monitoring, I knew she intended to do something I might not want her to do.
I stepped quickly until I stood next to her at the end of the patio. Nothing else moved, and she gave me only a cursory glance before returning her attention to whatever game so enthralled her.
Then I heard it. Something moved through the ground cover and produced a brief yet definitive sound, one even I could focus in on.
By the time I saw it, though, Larenti had already begun her stalking approach, rapidly crawling through the fence and pouncing on what appeared to be a pile of organic detritus beneath the bushes.
The target escaped her grip. Nevertheless, she was hot on its tail.
What was it?
A female green anole (Anolis carolinensis). Its color resembled bark when it first appeared, but that rapidly changed to this bright green.
With a feline huntress in pursuit, the lizard scrambled through the fence and ran right up the living room door. That’s where it rested when I took that photo.
Larenti, on the other hand, circled my feet with intent interest.
Let me point out something about that photo: I found the scales hypnotizing when eventually I looked at these images. Take this crop of that photo as an example:
There’s just something about the design, the color, the patterns… that all plays together so well as to mesmerize. Or so I see it. Your impression could be entirely different, so mileage may vary. Keep in mind I had just seen her change colors in so rapid a move that I barely believed I had seen it happen. The hue running down the center of her back shows you precisely what her whole body had looked like just seconds before I shot this picture (something I also discussed and showed here and here; other photos of and posts about this species can be found by searching for “green anole”).
These lizards constantly impress me. Like geckos, they can walk on and cling to just about any surface. Although unlike geckos, they can’t do so on all surfaces. I’ve seen one fall a few times as it tried to scramble across glass, something I’ve seen the resident geckos do without a moment’s hesitation. Truth be told, I’ve seen the geckos walking upside-down on the patio ceiling… running, in fact, when chasing a bug. I don’t think the anoles could pull that one off, but they could come close.
I watched the fearful lass as she tried to find a way back down. I kept putting my hand in front of her to keep her from making a foolish decision, what with Larenti lurking about my ankles like a devious child waiting to trip an unwary adult. Each time the lizard moved in her direction, the predator sprang forth and made herself ready, her eyes never leaving the prey, her limbs waiting for the moment when she could leap up and catch it before it could reverse course. Knowing how far a cat can jump while still hitting their target and catching it on the way down, I never let the anole get lower than my own eye level.
After snapping that last photo, my own humanity demanded action. I slipped the camera into my pocket so I could use both hands, and then I slowly enclosed the scared creature. Eventually I had her contained.
With one very demanding cat in hot pursuit, I walked across the patio, found a high and safe spot in one of the bushes, and opened my hands like a flower, so slowly and carefully, until the lady was presented with ample foliage and branches resting against my fingertips.
It was then my heart skipped a beat. She had been terrified not moments before, yet offering a safe haven to her somehow changed her demeanor. Very slowly and carefully, and not rushing at all, she stepped little by little until her front end rested upon a broad leaf even while her back end remained firmly seated in my hands. And there we stood.
I didn’t hurry her along. I didn’t grow impatient and force her to vacate my paws. I just waited. With consideration and intent, she moved little by little, tiny step and pause followed by tiny step and pause, until everything but her tail stood freely atop a verdant outcropping.
With care so as not to upset her, I ever so slowly moved my hands from beneath her until she was once again free. A quick glance at me, then another at the giant forest before her eyes, and she took off and was gone.
Larenti, on the other hand, was not a happy camper—at least she wasn’t before I started petting her. Then all was forgiven and most likely forgotten.