Thursday, December 14, 2006

What lives in your backyard?

Backyards in suburbia contain a variety of yard wildlife, some whose visits are encouraged, and others that may cause some distress and calls for an exterminator. On the whole, my Canadian backyard is host to a variety of friendly, fuzzy, furry and feathered critters that provide inspiration for the makers of Gund toys and Beanie Babies. Rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs, even the mice that take refuge in our gas barbeque are little cause for concern or fear. Occasionally a bold skunk is seen waddling down the road early in the morning. One of our dogs had a face first encounter with a startled skunk on a predawn walk a few years ago causing significant inconvenience, but no threat to his life.

Living in the tropics, we were more vigilant when outdoors in the garden. I have always loved to plant things, and remember my first garden in Durban where I had a little plot of radishes and beans. We lived within the city limits, and my parents kept the yard trimmed and neat, but we had two encounters at home with poisonous snakes, one a mamba, and the other a puff adder. To this day, I have a serpent phobia. My family insists that the only time I can run is when I see a snake. I have tried to desensitize myself by looking at pictures of snakes, but my negative childhood conditioning is likely permanent. For some reason, our home in South Africa did not have any screens. We had dutch doors, and the top half was left open during the day when we were home. In the mango grove behind our house lived a number of black-faced monkeys. These bold creatures would enter the house and were inclined to steal fruit from the kitchen counter. I also remember a chameleon that lived on the kitchen curtains for a period of time.

Speaking of lizards, The Becka stayed in Mexico for a few months earlier this year and took these pictures of critters she encountered. Lizards are as common there as squirrels are here, but they are timid, skittish and not very fearsome. The scorpion pictured is more sinister and its camouflage would discourage my usual barefoot stroll through the yard.

As man claims more and more natural habitat, covering it with concrete and buildings, displaced creatures will either adapt to the urban environment, or face reduction. Last month, a media uproar was created in our city when the local university ordered the “execution” of four beavers that had the audacity to topple trees adjacent to a walkway near their stream. They were considered a threat to human safety on the university property.

In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we have been taught. Baba Dioum

I am continuing to receive emails indicating that it is difficult to post comments on this blog. I have been on the beta version almost since its inception, but recently it seems that non-beta users cannot log on to post on beta blogs. Feel free to comment by email, and then I can post it. (body_soul_spirit(at)rogers(dot)com) I have switched to Firefox as a web browser this week, after much prodding by my daughter, and am impressed with the features. It works very well with Blogger.


  1. Anonymous8:06 am GMT-5

    I'm signing in not as a blooger, but "other". Let's see if this works.

    This was fun to read. Thanks for sharing your stories and adventures! I have a trembling fear of spiders since one tangled in my hair when I was about 5 - it was large, brown and very hairy. I still shiver when I think about it.

  2. Anonymous8:07 am GMT-5

    Yahoo. It's worked! I'll just sign in as "Other" and type in my name and http.

  3. Anonymous8:11 am GMT-5

    And I forgot to say, in warmer weather, I have several lizards that sit next to me on the front porch.

  4. Great to hear from you Mary. So there is a way around the comment problem. Childhood fears do follow us into adulthood. I didn't know there were lizards as far "north" as you are. I think they are cute, even though they are not cuddly.

  5. Anonymous8:03 pm GMT-5

    Come visit us in AZ and you can see all three creatures at our place. We have to be professionally sprayed every couple of months. Personally all but the lizard gives me the creeps

  6. I can't imagine a monkey raiding fruit in the kitchen!

  7. Mary, you are so smart.
    I will try it, too.

  8. Yeah! It worked.

    Give me warm-blooded critters anytime. I have never lived in a place warm enough for alot of lizards and scorpions, so I am thankfully not in contact with them.

  9. Ah yes, the scorpion...surprisingly that was the only one that I'd encountered during those few months.

  10. Anonymous1:15 am GMT-5

    I have never had a commenting problem though I use the "Other" option. I use Firefox as well though (though most of our computers are running Linux as well.)

    Snakes... I will have to post an entry on the way I see them (you inspired me! ;))

  11. Holy cow... a monkey in the kitchen! That would freak me out indeed! I'm going to do what Mary did and log in as "other" as well. I am having problems on several blogs. It won't recognize me or log me in to comment for some reason.

  12. Glad you all worked around the comments problem. I never remember the monkeys being nasty or aggressive. I am quite happy that I do not have to contend with poisonous wildlife here.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.