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article imageLizard found in organic salad winds up as class mascot

By Megan Hamilton     Jan 27, 2016 in Odd News
Princeton - Buy an organic salad, get a free lizard.
That's what happened when Sally Mabon unwrapped a bundle of tatsoi greens — she and her kindergartener, Faye, wound up with a three-inch-long green anole lizard tucked inside.
So, the very next day, Faye brought said lizard to Riverside Elementary School, where it's now become class mascot, reports.
Young Faye with her new-found friend.
Young Faye with her new-found friend.
YouTube screen grab Inside Edition
"Interesting things can happen when you're working as a science teacher," said teacher Mark Eastburn, who keeps the critter in his science lab. "We set up a little cage for it. It really came back amazingly well."
Some of his teacher colleagues expressed disgust that a lizard might be tucked inside their salads, but Eastburn said the lizard can serve as a couple of lessons: First, organic food is safe even for the smallest creatures. Second, during the cold months, fresh produce has to come from warmer regions.
This is a good example of how pesticide-free environments can preserve wildlife, he added, according to UPI.Com.
"I think it's a nice testament to pesticide-free foods and their minimal impact on the environment," Eastburn said. "Since this lizard was able to thrive without any trouble, and although it was surely refrigerated for a few days, it was able to bounce back to health almost instantly!"
The lizard, now named "Green Fruit Loop" by the kids, likely traveled from Florida, and the science teacher said he thinks the little reptile survived because it has some resistance to cold..
Mabon had purchased the refrigerated tatsoi at a local grocery store, and when she found the little anole it was unconscious and had turned grey, Teacher Turtles reported. Fortunately, with a bit of warmth and moisture, Fruit Loop perked right up.
Mike Atkinson, produce manager at Whole Earth Center, where Mabon purchased the greens, said the store's produce is 100 percent organic, reports. Synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are generally not used in growing organic food, he noted, adding he doesn't think the lizard would have survived if it wound up in a conventional, non-organic box.
Even though produce is trimmed and cleaned as it's being stocked, the surprise cargo must have tucked itself away in a leaf, he noted.
Atkinson said he's been in the produce business for 17 years and has never heard of a lizard winding up in a customer's groceries.
Green anoles (Anolis carolinensis) range widely throughout much of the southeastern U.S. and are found as far north as North Carolina, west to Texas, and south through Florida, which was once the central portion of the creature's distribution in the U.S. Now however, most Florida populations have been replaced by introduced anole species, Animal Diversity Web reports.
And for it's part, A. carolinensis has been introduced in Hawaii, where it is now abundant. It's also been introduced in the Ogasawara Islands of Japan, and is doing just fine. The same has happened in Cuba, the Bahamas, and Guam. It's having a tougher time in Guam, where it's being heavily preyed upon by the also-introduced brown tree snake.
Note: Some pesticides are known to be quite toxic to reptiles, and if you have one as a pet, please keep this information in mind.
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