June 09, 2008

Tycho Insulted by Evolved and Rational

Evolved Rationalist wrote last night:

Another fun fact about me is that I hate (and am terrified of) lizards. I hate the sight of them and I hate anything to do with them. I have never understood why people keep lizards as pets when they are obviously as ugly and disgusting as a giant 10-foot slugs...
Tycho is insulted. At his advanced age (he turns 12 in less than three months; that's like 96 in human terms), he's heard it all, including this sort of thing, and he can't understand it. Tycho loves humans. They feed him, they pet him, and they turn on the television for him. Tycho has nothing but positive opinions of human beings and he's hurt when they compare him to giant gastropods.

Comparing civilized reptiles to their wild cousins is like comparing the family cat to a leopard. For example, 2% of the population of the United States is bitten by a dog every year resulting in a dozen or more fatalities. When was the last time anyone in America was killed by a lizard? The numbers of people injured by domesticated lizards is so small that nobody even bothers to keep track. Tycho, in his extraordinarily long life, has never bitten even a single human — although he did once exhibit a powerful desire to take a chunk out of a clerk at the East Bay Vivarium in Berkeley. We still can't figure out what she had to do to provoke him to that extent, considering that he has always been willing to put up with all sorts of prodding and dress-up with no more than an "I don't like this" blackening of his neck sack. He'd rather lick the frosting off a cupcake, thank you very much.

Unlike stinky dogs that eat their own vomit or cats that shred the furniture, Tycho would like to remind everyone that civilized lizards are creatures of taste and refinement. Theirs is a life of satin blankets, fresh blueberries and public television. They are genteel and gentle creatures who wouldn't even hurt a tree frog that perched upon their head. They're immaculately clean, too. No self-respecting civilized lizard would soil their lair without a human nearby to clean up at once. Do you poop in your bedroom? Didn't think so.

Sure, wild komodo dragons pose a threat to humans. That has nothing to do with domesticated, educated lizards like Tycho, though. As anyone familiar with his internet celebrityness will tell you, he'd never stoop to drawing blood like some base animal. He'd much rather wait around for his human friends to cook him up some macaroni and cheese. That's what they're here for, after all. Unlike squabbling hominids, Tycho has no doubt about evolution. Humans are perfectly adapted to cooking and cleaning for bearded dragons, the real masters of this planet.

It is simply unreasonable to compare the urbane lizards of modern society to the backwoods, rude and unpolished lizards found on remote tropical islands. It's like lumping together Oscar Wilde and an Alabama klansman. The only thing they have in common is biology. The civilized lizards of today are creatures of refinement and dignity.

Tycho would like to remind you all that lizards are your friends and neighbors. Anti-lizard bigotry is unfair and hurtful. Thank you for your understanding.

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