Those of you who read this column regularly know that I am enamored of little lizards, geckos, anoles, or whatever. Since moving to South Carolina in 1998 and Florida in 2010, we have had quite a few experiences with the little critters.

I recall my first exposure to a gecko. He tried to reside in our mailbox in Pawleys Island, SC. We would open the box to retrieve mail and WHOOPS! - his little head would be peeking out from among the letters.

The first time that happened, I let out a girly "Eek!" and slammed the box shut. He was more scared of me than I was of him, so he immediately rushed out the back of the mailbox and onto the neighboring bush and disappeared. I called Jim and he taped the back of the mailbox to prevent a reoccurrence.

Of course, that didn't stop the little guy. Something chewed a hole in the tape and he managed to find his way back inside. Some geckos also visited us inside the house. We learned how to catch them in a humane way and return them to the outdoors.

Living here in Florida brought more geckos into our life. These are bigger, faster, and bolder than the SC breed. Apparently, the warmer weather brings out the beast in a gecko.

We have had geckos live in our porch plants, in our lime tree, and under the gas grill. And, lately, perhaps because of the colder weather, we have seen them inside the house.

In the fall when the weather was beautiful, we opened some windows to capture fresh air. A gecko found his way into our bathroom and scared the beejeebers out of me when I retired for the night. Throwing a towel over him and escorting him outside was Jim's job, since I was still too shaky to do the delicate work. I might have ripped off his tail or crushed him inside the towel.

Last week, I put the winter blanket on our bed. As I was doing that, I spied a gecko running from the cedar chest to the bed. Not screaming "Eek" because I am now immune to that surprise, I calmly grabbed a towel from the bathroom and tried to catch him. No such luck. He managed to run under the king-sized bed. I banged the floor around the bed, but he didn't show his face again.

All day long, I walked into the bedroom and made noise, trying to shake him loose from his hiding place. He didn't appear. I felt great trepidation about going to bed that night, thinking he might be attracted to our new winter blanket and decide to join us. He didn't.

As a matter of fact, I haven't seen him again. Jim thinks he might have made his way out to our enclosed porch and taken up residence in one of the plants. I have another theory.

There must be a very small carcass of a gecko lying somewhere in my house. He wouldn't have been able to find food inside and most likely perished. My cleaning habits do not always require me to search underneath furniture, but I think I will. As a matter of fact, I will most likely search hard and often for what's left of him. "Dust" takes on a whole new meaning now.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH1313@CFL.RR.COM [1] OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.