The title of this column was going to be "The Gecko in the Mailbox," in honor of our resident anole who loves to curl up inside our mailbox and scare the beejeebers out of me when I put my hand in for the mail.
We have geckos all over our property – and sometimes inside the house. They are adorable little lizards, but when they pop their heads out from behind our living room television, their cuteness isn't as obvious.
Instead of screaming in fright (which I did the first time one of the critters made his way into our living room), I have learned how to deal with the unwanted visitor. We get a small paper lunch bag, open it, and place it on the floor close to where the gecko was last seen.
We scratch the back of the bag – and lo and behold! – the gecko runs into the bag, curious and ready to catch whatever bug resides inside. Aha! We tighten the neck of the bag, carry it outside, and deposit the little invader into the woods. No one ever accused a gecko of being smart.
This subterfuge works 99 percent of the time. Every now and then, we get an uninquisitive gecko (think dumber than normal) who needs to be chased down and grabbed. Just don't grab one by the tail, because the tail can snap off and then the critter runs away. Luckily for him, his tail will grow back quite promptly. Unlucky for us, we might have a short-tailed visitor in the house for a while.
But I digress.
The initial purpose of this column was to discuss smart pigs.
Any farmer can tell you that pigs are smart. There was a recent column in 'the Week" magazine that heralded just how smart they are.
Apparently, researchers placed two pigs in a pen with a mirror. While most animals see their own reflection as another animal and shy away from the mirror, pigs quickly grasp the link between their movements and the movement of the mirror image.
They can nuzzle their own reflection and look at themselves from various angles. When a bowl of food was introduced that was visible only in the mirror, the pigs quickly turned around to seek out the real thing behind them.
In the case of the resident gecko, he most likely would have kept bashing his head against the mirror, oblivious to the fact that the food stayed a certain distance away from him.
We have always thought that monkeys, elephants, and dolphins were smart animals. Certain dog breeds are also well known for their extra-intelligent way of handling the world.
As for geckos and pigs, there's no contest. Porky is the I. Q. champ in that fight.
(IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH798@SC.RR.COM OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.)