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Old 06-24-2006   #1
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Wildlife

As some of you know by now, I live in the country. Our house sits on 22 acres some of which is "ours" and consists of a fairly small area one could call a yard surrounded by wild north Florida forest and the rest is a farmer's field where he grows cotton or peanuts in alternate seasons. I'm so far out in the sticks that I can't get any kind of broadband connection but that's not the subject of this post. As the title implies, it's critters I want to talk about.

First, the bugs. It is true that there are large cockroaches here. Its also true that they can fly. However these beasts are "tree" roaches and they usually get in one's house only because they smell something appealing, but then go back outside to nest, mate etc.
The mosquitoes are seasonal. Some days can be vicious. Some days, stepping outside for 5 minutes will earn you 5 or 10 hits while other days, especially if there has been no rain for a while, can be mosquito free. Anyway, living in the country has provided us with many interesting encounters with various kinds of real wild wildlife:

Before real summer set in, I would often throw the door and windows of the house open to let in the cool spring air...unfortunately it also lets in regular houseflies. Up goes the obligatory fly strip in the kitchen to trap the beasts. One day not too long ago, I heard a single small sound come from the kitchen-a few feet from my office- so I got up to investigate. I found the fly strip on the floor with a small grey shape thrashing around pretty good in the sticky strip. My first thought was "mouse" but how, I wondered did a mouse get way up there? Then it chirped, and I realized I had a fledgeling sparrow that somehow found the open front door and ended up in a fly strip in my kitchen. Well, I managed to extract the poor thing at the cost of a number of feathers and I'm pretty sure it didn't have any broken bones. I set it down and it ran/fluttered for the door and was gone before I could really react so I don't know what ended up with that one.

More than once, at various times of the day or night, we've heard a rather powerful sound... that of grass and soil being ripped or dug up coming from some near underbrush. A few seconds later, an armadillo comes lumbering out from the tall grass and waddles within a few feet of us...seemingly oblivious, then finds another tasty piece of dirt to dig up. We've all seen this guy so many times we're pretty sure he's a regular who has staked out our yard as his turf.

There are a lot of red fox sightings on our yard as well but this is a fast-moving and elusive little guy. I never noticed this, but a fox looks like a dog, and moves like a cat... really weird. Foxes are weird. Ummm... oh yeah also possums come trundling thru the woods but not too often. Surprisingly enough, I've seen no raccoons although my mom, who lives in the forest as well, about 60 miles from me does have coons... a lot of them. Squirrels, of course. Lots of squirrels. Oh and snakes.

Yes, the reptiles and amphibians of the area are what make it sooo much fun out here.
Our oldest cat, a small fixed tailless black and white fuzzball by the name of Princess is a very ...ummm...active and successful hunter. She's a real hunter in that she doesn't leave us gifts, she eats what she kills. Anyway, Princess was going nuts staring in this patch of thorny blackberry vines next to our front porch one day and suddenly a very fast moving black sinuous thing shot out from the patch. As it headed for the deeper grass, it had to cover a couple of yards of short mowed grass. For that few seconds I could see it in its entirety, I could see a snake that was about 5 to 6 feet long and probably 2 inches thick at its thickest. I don't recall the species I matched it up with, but I do recall that if I had identified it correctly it was nonvenomous. I'm glad I didn't find out the hard way. A few weeks later, Alex hollered for me and I come running out to discover that a 4 or 5 foot gopher snake had somehow gotten in his room. I caught that one and almost earned a nonpoisonous bite from that little bastard..actually felt a tooth scrape the skin on my hand...

We have a screened in back porch where the little 4 inch anole lizards hang on the screen. These guys are usually brown, but can turn bright green when they start to display their reptile macho-ness to another lizard. These consist of the head-bobbing, red-neck-flap-showing encounters amongst each other, and occasionally I've seen them actually get it on... a major lizard fight between these two tiny 3 or 4 inch long dinosaurs!! The reason they like the screen is because of the other flying bugs that get caught on the wrong side of the screen. They race across and glup... lunchtime!! Little guys are pretty smart for reptiles. Occasionally a wasp or bumblebee will get stuck against the screen but the lizards don't even try to strike at those... even if the wasp has landed on the screen for a rest just a few inches away from the lizard. The bees, wasps and butterflies I try to gently scoop up in something and set them back outside, but moths or flies are lizard lunch.

There are also a lot of both toads and frogs out here. Little generic grey toads about 1 or 2 inches long are as common as houseflies... and the even tinier green tree frogs are ridiculous. At night when we have the lights on inside, the light attracts bugs to the windows... and the bugs attract the frogs. Its not at all uncommon to see 3 or 4 or more tree frogs stuck to the outside of the window with just a frog shape and a white belly showing from the inside. They like it on the windows.. easy hunting. Usually these frogs are quite small...about a half inch long, but occasionally a fairly large one turns up. I was on the front porch a few days ago heading back inside when I noticed a veritable giant of a green tree frog comfortably stuck on the wall of the porch alcove. For a green frog, this one was huge. He (?it...whatever) was at least 3 inches long. I stopped and said...kinda to myself and kinda to the frog.. "Whoa! Look at you, Kermit!" or something like that and reached out to touch it. It was at about waist height to me. As my hand approached it, the stupid frog made a wild leap off the wall. I saw a brief flurry of frog legs and toes approaching my face, and suddenly the damn thing was hanging on my beard and mustache!! Before I had a chance to say "bleggh" or whatever, it crawled up the rest of my face and made another wild leap, this time all the way to the ground where I heard it hit with a "splat". Didn't seem to inconvenience it any cuz it hopped the hell out of sight.

Yesterday afternoon, Bam and her daughter were getting ready to leave the house and there was a lot of traffic in the hallway connecting our room and the dining room. When they left and I was heading back into the room, I noticed a patch of something on the carpet that shouldn't be there. I bent to get a closer look and it moved... fast! The hall was shadowed so I couldn't see well, mainly because I had just come in from outside and my eyes were still dazzled by the sun, so I jumped back. Whatever it was, I'm surprised someone hadn't stepped on it. The patch moved into the brighter-lit dining room and I saw another kind of lizard- this was not one of those little anoles, no way bob... this guy was grey red and purple with a bright blue tail and stripes on its back. The thing that made this one remarkable was the fact that it was close to 6 inches long and ...well not fat but husky. It was a damn big lizard. I've never been afraid of lizards so this one I chased and soon captured but not without it losing its tail...The kind that wiggles after it breaks. It was so big that I could feel its weight in my hand and it was stroooong! Almost got away from me a couple of times. I set it loose on the back screen where the little anoles hang out and figured that was the end.
Um.
No.
Today, I came out of my office heading into the kitchen and spotted the dude(?) scurrying across the tile floor heading under the stove! After a couple of half-ass tries to chase it out, I figured I'd let it stay inside. If it could find enough to eat in here, I have no objection to having a house lizard live under the stove. Oh, I know it was the same one I had just put out the day before; it was missing a tail.

Ahhh the joys of living in the country.
With summer only 3 days in, and the really cold weather still about 6 months off, I'm sure I'll have another Great Wildlife Encounter...
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Old 06-24-2006   #2
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Re: Wildlife

HOW ABOUT PIGS,got any spoted baby pigs or gaytors anything big and bad? Do you hunt from your back yard?No,just your cat.No hope for us,cats will take over the earth.
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Old 06-25-2006   #3
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Re: Wildlife

we used to live out in the "woods" and had all kinds of wildlife around the place. We lived down a mile-long dirt road, and only had one real neighbor about another mile or so down the road before it dead ended.

we used to feed our dog whatever scraps were leftover from dinner because we couldn't afford dog food, and a lot of times we would hear him barking because he was fighting the possums for the food.

my mom had a goldfish pond she and her ex-husband had dug up, and on several occasions there were either copper heads or water moccasins that would get in there and eat her fish. we actually had several occassions with the poisonous snakes.

there were also those green anoles that would run all over the side of our house, huge frogs and toads, green snakes and corn snakes, among the other types of reptiles.

the most possums and armadillos you see are the ones dead on the road. i'd say spring, maybe it's because that's mating season?, is when you see the most of them. also raccoons. some redneck actually propped up an armadillo on the side of the road at the only redlight in the town my parents live in, and put a beer bottle in his hand.

when we used to live in the sticks, we would put salt blocks out in the yard to see the deer come up. there were tons of deer. and at night we would see bats flying overhead.

and during the summer was the worst because we lived next to a cow pasture and during the beginning of summer they spread the pasture with chicken shit and it smells horrible. you get used to it and really the smells just remind you of home. it's funny how smells take you back like that.

but anyways. we had neighbors that had all kinds of crops, and we got to pick corn, strawberries, crab apples, pears, plums, blackberries which just grew wild, blueberries (which i HATE picking), squash, okra, tomatoes, peas which we would later shell and freeze, momma and my aunt would peel and can tomatoes, and all kinds of things like that.

it's nice living in the country, but not when it takes a half hour or so to get into town.

sometimes we could hear coyotes or whatever it was out in the woods. and during spring you can hear the cycadas (sp?) and during the summer at night you can always hear the bugs chirping. i like sitting out on the porch and listening to them.

on a few occassions we would find snakes in our house. and i know about the gigantic roaches you are talking about. two or three of them have made their way into our house since we lived here. i hate those things.

and before, we had this big "gofer rat" that got into our house. i'm not sure if that's what it's really called, but the thing was huge. and we sometimes got field mice in our house during the winter.

i know one time when i was younger during the winter, i saw a "dead" armadillo that i decided was a good idea to poke with a stick. it made this hissing noise, and i thought it was some gas or something coming out of it from me poking it. i just realized in the past few years that the suckers play dead, so it was actually probably warning me to get the hell away from it.

we used to see all kinds of animals, and my aunt actually had a pet raccoon they found one time. they put a diaper on it and would take it to the park and swing it. it was just like a little kid.

i like living in the south because of all the stuff like that around here.

i hate the spiders though. in my parents garage are just tons of black widows and brown recluses everywhere. i hate spiders. and there used to be those "wolf spiders" i guess around june and july, and they carry their eggs then their babies on their backs. the things are huge.

and my momma used to live even further down south alabama/florida, and said one time on her way home from work she ran over an alligator! and when they lived down on the beach they used to set up fish nets in the ocean. she said once that a shark bumped up against her and felt just like sandpaper.
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Old 06-25-2006   #4
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Re: Wildlife

I live on a big hill (some would call it a mountain) next to a nature preserve. There's a very large pack of coyotes that ranges near my house; it can be pretty creepy to hear them baying late at night.

Once I found an eviscerated deer that I assume was killed by the coyotes. There are also frequent "lost cat" signs up here.

Another time, a coon got onto my patio. I found him when I tripped over the potted plant he was hiding behind. We both scared the balls off of each other.

One summer we had a family of rats that were so big that we couldn't catch them in a conventional rat trap; instead, we had to shoot them with a rifle.
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Old 06-25-2006   #5
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Re: Wildlife

When I was in England, I lived in the New Forest which was lovely. We got a ton of Grey Squirrels in our backgarden and sometimes red ones. Occasionally we would get a snake in our bushes but that's about it in our garden.

There were always rabbits everywhere and lots and lots of ponies. I used to go camping with my dad in the forest and you could hear the owls and everything which I loved. There were foxes and badgers everywhere in the forest too.

There was a pig farm right up our road so on the summer afternoons when I'd walk down there, you could see the piglets squealing around on the road.

Here in Kuwait there is nothing except stray cats.
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Old 06-25-2006   #6
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Re: Wildlife

Tom forgot to mention the baby rabbit my daughter found, but he was injured and didnt live but a day. And then there was the injured bat that we nursed back to health, didnt have a problem with it until i felt it crawl on me one nite, almost sent it flying across the room....talk about giving you the creeps. On more than one occassion I have had deer come close to me, we stopped in the middle of the road to watch one in the field and it came up to the truck and looked at us then just hopped away. Another time when Tom was driving I told him to slow down, something in the road, the buck was in the street just standing there and let the doe and fawn cross, then he followed them off into the woods. There are also vultures that are huge. When they are eating the road kill they dont fly away, just hop to the side and let you pass. Hawks are another thing, love to watch them soar and catch the wind. I really do love living out in the country.
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Old 06-25-2006   #7
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Re: Wildlife

Wow I wish we had some cool creatures like that out here.

All I get is a squirell that invades the garage every year, a couple coyotes out in the bush that we never really see; a little red fox that we occaisionally see darting across the yard, a couple stray cats (they are brothers we think. They are HUGE cats), lots of birds (we have a hawk that flys by once in awhile) there are owls but we don't see much of them.

We have lots of ants, bees, wasps, you name it. Lots of mosquitoes.
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Old 06-30-2006   #8
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Re: Wildlife

I get flies and the super rare lizard in my home. Thats what i get for being in a track.

When i go to the desert with my family to ride motorcycles, we'll see a TON of chipmunks and jackrabbits, and a rare snake or two. At night, we can sit by the fire and watch quitely as half a dozen mice slowly run to the fire. They all run when i shoot one of their team with my pellet rifle. stupid mice.

One time i had shot a snake, and after admriing it, etc, it was thrown (not my choice) into a large set of rocks leading to a rock formation thing. I found the snake carcass later that night, with 4 mice chewing away on it.
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Old 07-02-2006   #9
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Re: Wildlife

yes there are pigs in chamuchlah (where ablevoice and bam live) *sorry if the spelling is wrong* but, yeah, on the way to the farmers opry house a couple months ago, i saw a dead pig on the side of the road, i mean, this thing was huge!!!!!!! it was pretty gross.

yeah, i don't live as far out into the country as you do, but we have our fair share of wildlife in avalon beach. we've got dear, foxes, squriels, possoums, amadillos, turtles, and bears, yes, bears.

but the worst of all of them are the racoons. they get into the garbage and tear things up looking for food, and they are so damn annoying. i've actually had one hiss at me before.

and i saw you mentioned blackberries. if you want some really nice ones, they are all along the blackwater river trail thing that starts in downtown milton near the library. there are also wild strawberriess and a mulberry tree. have fun!
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Old 07-02-2006   #10
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Re: Wildlife

its an Indian name....Chumuckla, hard to spell and even harder to pronounce.
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Old 07-03-2006   #11
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Re: Wildlife

cool :) i never knew why it was named that. when i was younger i used to think chumuckla and cantoment were the same place. yes, i am kinda dumb ;)
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Old 10-14-2007   #12
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Re: Wildlife

This thread has been idle for a long time.
Now that we have an actual digital cam which is ready for instant use thanks to investing in a small charger and 4 NiMH AA cells for a whopping 12 bucks at WalMart (one of the best purchases I ever made because that damn cam EATS Duracells), it seems that all the wildlife I mentioned I seem to always see has gotten camera shy

Well, anyway, this afternoon, bamcubz happened to look out our window and announced that Noce, our black cat, had captured a snake and was actively attempting to torture it to death. I rushed out in a damn fast hurry and saw that she had a hatchling that was probably just a few months out of its egg. I grabbed it before Noce could do any serious damage and brought it inside. This was not injured in the least and in fact tried to bite me but its tiny teeth were too small to puncture my skin...that, or it just didn't get a good angle...
I'm not sure I like this cam too very much because it doesn't like really up-close shots- can't image clearly closer than about 18 inches without going out of focus. Out of the 4 shots Barb got, this was the only one that came out even half acceptable:



I only handled this tiny guy (girl?? WTF do I know about determining gender of a snake? I'm not even sure of the species), for a few minutes before it began to get really aggressive and tried to bite several more times. I released it in the front yard in that same patch of thorny berry vines I mentioned in the first post of this thread.
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File Type: jpg Baby snake oct 14 07.jpg (57.6 KB, 28 views)
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Old 10-14-2007   #13
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Re: Wildlife

It looks to be a type of corn/rat snake (all same species, just various subspecies)... you can't definitively determine the gender of the snake without getting, erm, rather invasive. These little guys are constrictors, and thus their teeth don't ever do much damage; they face backwards and mostly serve just to hold a squirming prey animal in its mouth while the snake squeezes it to death.


Ahhhhhh
I love snakes.

Now I miss Houdini, Blaine, and Irwin even more.

=(
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Old 03-09-2008   #14
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Re: Wildlife

As I've already started a thread on the subject, I see no need to make an all new one just because of a new post...

I sauntered out of my office and Alex was in the kitchen. I glanced at a hard-to-miss blotch of some sort of what I thought was crud on the kitchen window screen and Alex hooked his thumb over his shoulder and said, "bat".
Ummm. Yes.
A bat.
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File Type: jpg bat 3 9 08 1.jpg (84.1 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg bat 3 9 08 2.jpg (83.6 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg bat 3 9 08 3.jpg (80.1 KB, 7 views)
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Old 03-09-2008   #15
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Re: Wildlife

it's ugly.
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Old 03-09-2008   #16
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Re: Wildlife

I had a pet bat for an evening. Not quite that big though.
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Old 03-09-2008   #17
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Re: Wildlife

It's fantastic!!!
We have bats that fly over the quad at night, but I never get to see them that close.
One time, though, my dad and I were at a state park within an hour of my house and free-climbed the 60 foot canyon; at the top we always look for rattlesnakes (mmmm) and Western Fence Lizards. We went around picking up the rocks and lo-and-behold we found a bat. We caught the bat as it tried to fly away. We are hardcore.
Anyways, we had it in a small net for a while (the net is primarily used for catching crayfish, frogs, and toads in/near the river that carved the canyon) and looked at it (very carefully) before letting it on its way. 'Twas fantastic.
At the same park we often see pronghorn, mule deer, jackrabbits, crayfish, western toads, bullfrogs, fence lizards, bullsnakes, garter snakes, western diamondback rattlesnakes, turkey vultures, red tailed hawks, great horned owls, and the prints (over and over again) of a rather large mountain lion. I really want to get a glimpse of him/her, but every time we go we find fresh prints, scat, or a kill and never the cat itself.
At a closer park (where I often skate) we have mule deer, red tailed hawks, red shouldered hawks, grey owls, kestrels, night herons, great blue herons, great white herons (morph), a bobcat, foxes, coyotes, rabbits galore, mice, voles, shrews, moles, badgers, three species of squirrel, bullsnakes, garter snakes, fence lizards, toads, etc, etc.
In my yard (tiny, tiny yard) I have had rabbits, foxes, bullsnakes, garter snakes, a mule deer (that was a weird one), two species of squirrel, and too many birds to count. The rabbits let us get really close all the time, and my brother and I have caught several injured ones (people really need to keep their pets inside and away from wildlife) and rehabilitated them.
I love it.
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Old 03-10-2008   #18
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Re: Wildlife

why just for an evening, gerbil?

and we used to live out in the woods and would have a whole bunch of bats flying overhead. it was pretty cool.
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Old 03-10-2008   #19
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Re: Wildlife






No but seriously... I LOVE BATS. I am fascinated by bats as much as foxy likes herp, herpe, herpes, uhm, Herpetology! That's the one.

I have bats that frequent my backyard, roost in the trees between feedings. I'm also Batman.
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Old 03-10-2008   #20
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Re: Wildlife

ah ha jason. love the picture. ps you are NOT batman.
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