Spring Lizard

Spring Lizards

Excerpt from Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English:

1995 Adams Come Go Home 2 We had turned over rocks in the branch so we could watch the spring lizards jump straight up and then slither farther into the mud to be as still as death.

You have to have quick hands, fingers,and eyes to catch spring lizards. Chatter and Chitter have those quick skills-I used to.

In yesterday’s post we talked about springs, spring houses, spring boxes, and spring troughs. Spring lizards came up in the comments when Gina said “Both my grandmothers had wells; one with an electric pump and the other with a hand pump in her kitchen. I didn’t see a spring house until I was eight or so. Imagine my shock when I spied a small lizard running around the edge of the water.”

Gina’s comment easily explains how the term spring lizard came about. I’m positive all spring houses, boxes, an troughs had lizards living in or in close proximity to them.


*Source Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English.


You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    March 21, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    We had a well, a hand pump at the kitchen sink, and another hand pump in the yard outside the back door to clean at before coming in the house. I can’t recall ever seeing any lizards until I moved down south.
    We have plenty of them now, and I have little fairy/lizard/frog houses set here and there about the yard for them to hide in when the cats are out, if the fairies/lizards/frogs have a mind to. If there are any out there today and tonight, they better have their long johns on, cause it’s C-O-L-D here this week, guess Mother Nature didn’t get the Spring Memo yet. ;o)
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Susie Swanson
    March 20, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    I remember helping my brothers catch them to sell.

  • Reply
    Allison Britt
    March 19, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    On of my favorite childhood memories is the time that I saw a ‘red lizard’ at the head of the spring that provided water to my grandparents house. Loved the cold spring water that ran in a continual flow into the kitchen sink of their house. The sink held a large bucket with a dipper….

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    March 19, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    How I wished I could wander in the springs to catch spring lizards, salamanders, newts, etc.
    You could hear me scream a mile when a big old crawdad movee backards between my barefoot toes. You know like they do when you lift up the rock, the other hand ready to snatch the lizzard and and the grandaddy crawdad jets toward yore feet…
    I want to apologize to nature for keeping those spotted yellow salamanders and the orange and black spotted ones to fish with. They were always more scarce, why we didn’t have enough sense to just leave them alone…I think it is still illegal to fish with those in Tennessee nowadays..
    We were at Cades Cove late this weekend. Saw 89 deer, 2 turkeys and in a big field right before dark, a varmit running, which my husband said was a coyote, and I say was a cougar…If it was coyote it was a BIG’IN !! Love to go around the loop in the cold, couldy days when there is no, no traffic…we only saw four cars..
    Oh, and hundrends of Robins…
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS….I saw so many fairy houses and twisted vines and root dwellings! Tiny little rock stairsteps with moss rugs at the doorways…

  • Reply
    March 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Slithery creatures are not my favorite living things, so I am happy the girls have quick fingers to catch them. I sure could have used their quick hands when I lived in South FL when we would get tree frogs and lizards in the house. Hats off to you and the girls.

  • Reply
    March 19, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Catching lizzards to sell was a
    good way for a boy to make some
    extra money for us. My older brother was better than me and he
    could grab ’em with both hands.
    Besides I couldn’t turn over the
    big rocks like he could. So I came
    up with an equalizer. I found an
    old car radio antenna, wrapped a
    stiff wire around the tip and
    threaded a nightcrawler on it.
    Back then you could buy flashlite
    batteries for a dime each. When it
    got dark, you could see little
    beady eyes peeping out from under
    rocks, crevices in falls, creekbanks and such. Coons already
    knew this, only they could see at
    night and if you’d be kinda quiet
    and keep the dogs out of the creek
    you could catch a bucket full. The
    antenna would extend and just put
    the bait close to his mouth and he’d grab it and hang on for dear
    life. You had to shake him off in
    the bucket.
    Ed mentioned red lizzards with the
    little black spots, well you can
    take a gas lantern and go when its
    raining around locust trees and
    leaves and just pick ’em up…Ken

  • Reply
    Lonnie L. Dockery
    March 19, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Once, (about 50 years ago!) my brother and I spent an entire day going up and down the branches,catching spring lizards. We put them in a “milk” jug and that evening walked about a mile to sell them for fish bait at John Cable’s Store. I don’t know how much we expected for a days work but probably no more than a couple of dollars. When we got there and John poured them out in the tank he kept them in they all sunk to the bottom. Imagine our disappointment when he said “Why, boys these spring lizards are dead!” The jug had apparently had gas in it and we didn’t get it cleaned out!

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    March 19, 2013 at 9:23 am

    We called them fishing bait,, (salamanders) nothing a fish hates more than salamanders, was told they would eat the fish eggs, let that thing come in proximity of a fish and it turns into “Rambo”.. with fins…

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    March 19, 2013 at 9:05 am

    I don’t know about spring lizards, but how about Spring Chickens? I feel like one!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 19, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Tipper, I used to catch spring lizards as a kid but none lately. I love the spot of red nail polish, a real juxtaposition, od nail polish and spring lizard.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 19, 2013 at 7:53 am

    Do you ever see the red lizards? They aren’t usually found in the springs or branches but are close by. It’s supposed to be good luck when you find one.

  • Reply
    Joe Mode
    March 19, 2013 at 7:53 am

    We called them salamanders and they were slippery. We used to catch them in the spring down in the cow pasture. Twas a beautiful place.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 19, 2013 at 7:14 am

    I was always told that spring lizards were a sign of good water. If lizards won’t live it in, then it ain’t fit for people.

  • Leave a Reply