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Monday, April 4, 2011

Backyard Wildlife

Check out the little umbrella plant island below.  Can you see any frogs?  Believe it or not, there are six frogs on that island. 

Umbrella island with 6 frogs

You can see some of them in the photo below - especially the big fellow at the bottom.  They blend in well, don't they?  You should hear the din they make in the evenings!  Neighbors on all sides can hear them.  I just love "my" frogs.  I'm quite protective of them, especially now that I know frogs are disappearing at an alarming rate, all over the world.  The reasons are unclear but may have something to do with disappearing habitat and pesticides.  (Use organic gardening!)

Close-up of frogs

Garter snake in back yard

 Whoa - here's another bit of backyard wildlife.  This is a harmless garter snake.  He's only about as thick as my thumb.  He was just moseying around looking for bugs to eat.  He blends in pretty well, too.  If I hadn't been examining the ground for dog poo to pick up, I'd have missed him. 

Now, some of you probably hate snakes.  I've never been afraid of snakes.  Maybe that's partly because I grew up in West Texas where we have a lot of snakes.  I have a healthy respect for rattlers, cooperheads, and the like.  But the fact is 90% of snakes are harmless, and they eat critters we don't want around, like mice and bugs.  So leave them alone!  And if you've ever held a snake, you know they are not slimy and scaly.  They are warm and smooth.  And they don't bite unless you give them a good reason to. 

I don't have a problem with tarantulas or scorpions, for the same reason.  They were everywhere when I was growing up. 

Although I have to confess there was one time a scorpion scared me.  I was visiting my brother and his wife in Odessa, after I'd been living in Bolivia for several years.  In the middle of the night I went to the guest bath and saw a huge scorpion on the little rug in front of the toilet.  I thought about it for awhile and decided I didn't want to mess with it.  So I woke up my sister-in-law.  I stood there in the dark beside her bed and quavered, "There's a big scorpion in the bathroom." 

There was a pause as Sharla blinked up at me.  She finally answered, "So?"  Spoken like a true West Texas gal.  I'd been away too long.  So I slunk back to the bathroom, feeling ashamed of my cowardice.  I think Sharla took pity on me and took care of the scorpion after all.  Since then I've approached them fearlessly.  When my children were small, if I ran across a scorpion in the house, I'd catch it in a jar and give them a "Scorpions are our friends" mini-lecture.  Then I'd put it back outside.  Here's one excellent reason for saving scorpions:  they eat fire ants.  

Cockroaches are another matter.  Put me in a room with a big flying cockroach and I'll come running out screaming like a banshee. 

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