With no easy access to a tree like this guy, a stick lizard must carry his stick with him. Here, a lizard wanders along a branch of the Great Mesquite Tree at the Roy P. Drachman-Agua Caliente Park. March 7, 2013. 

A.E. Araiza / Arizona Daily Star

Before we leave our discussion of the joys of summer, tribute should be paid to that miracle of climatic adaptation, the Sonoran Desert Stick Lizard.

The little stretch of desert where I live is blessed with many kinds of cactus, and I often find myself walking around the property, introducing visitors to our local flora.

On such strolls I may chance to come across a straight stick, six to twelve inches long and roughly the diameter of a wooden pencil. I pick it up, remarking to my companion that I haven’t seen one of those in a long time.

“What is it?” asks the visitor.

“Why, it’s a lizard stick,” I reply.

“What in the world is a lizard stick?” is the inevitable question.

Then I explain that one species of lizard in the Sonoran Desert has very tender feet, and cannot walk without pain across the burning sands of mid-day. He therefore carries a stick tucked under his legs. (Note on gender equity: there were just too many “it”s in this passage, so I arbitrarily decided to discuss male lizards. Female stick lizards exist, of course, but their sticks are smaller and harder to identify.) When the sand gets too hot, the lizard jabs the stick into the ground and climbs up it. There he stays until things cool off towards evening, when he scampers down and goes about his business, carrying his stick.

There are unscrupulous people who will tell you that, while perched on the stick, the lizard keeps cool by sitting in its own shadow. Trust them not; the truth is not in them. But some people will go to almost any lengths to deceive a newcomer.

This brief essay on the stick lizard is brought to you as the result of a reader’s suggestion.