Depending on where you live, you’ll find yourself surrounded by critters native to that area. When I lived in Arizona, there were scorpions, rattlesnakes, and my favorite - “horny toads” (horned lizards for you purists). You typically don’t see these creatures on a daily basis, but if you live in Arizona for a while, you’ll probably come in contact with them eventually. In Texas, I saw armadillos and alligator gar, and in Oklahoma there were beavers, copperheads, and opossums. Each region has its own unique species, and it’s (almost) always interesting to cross paths.
Now that I’m living in Thailand, I’ve been exposed to some new animals and creepy crawlers. I’ve seen elephants on the side of the road (normally in some type of preservation camp), wild monkeys, and monitor lizards. I consider it a treat to see these beasts. On a regular basis though, many of the critters I see are pests … some just annoying, and others potentially dangerous.
When I first moved into my rental house, I thought it was charming to see geckos occasionally sticking to a wall. We all know about the friendly lizard, with his British accent and strong desire to save us 15% on our auto insurance. What we didn’t know is he, along with all his Thai cousins, like to leave little, sticky poop pellets wherever they go. There’s nothing charming about looking across the room and seeing three or four nasty chocolate chips stuck on the wall for you to clean up. They also like to pee on walls, which leaves unappealing streaks, until you get around the house with a rag and bottle of spray cleaner. They’re very fast, and hard to catch. I don’t want to poison them, so we just live a resentful coexistence with one another.
I found one in the toilet the other day. I considered fishing him out, but was overcome with a feeling of spite, and diabolically pushed the flush handle. As we made eye contact, his eyes narrowed with the promise of revenge as he swirled in a clockwise direction down the drain. I’m sure he probably enjoyed the water slide to the sewage system, and will eventually end up back in my house somewhere, laughing in a British accent as he covers my wall in gecko waste.
Outside, I constantly come across different species of frogs and lizards. For some reason they enjoy sitting on my front gate. One morning, I stepped outside to see a colorful lizard, almost a foot long, not counting his tail. His face was a vibrant blue color with a white stripe, which immediately reminded me of “Braveheart”. I dubbed this lizard William Wallace. He turned out to be a “blue crested lizard”, and made himself at home in my yard. I still occasionally see William, and I consider it a fortunate day when he makes an appearance.
Frogs provide a concert nearly every night it’s not raining. They gather in my little garden and after dark, the music starts. They lean pretty heavy on the bass, so I’m assuming their music is an offshoot of 70s funk. There are some occasional higher-pitched notes, but I’m pretty sure, those are just geckos, rudely interrupting the concert. It’s like going to see Journey, with the guy next to you singing loudly and off-key during “Don’t Stop Believing”. Damned geckos!
The only creepy crawlers I see on a regular basis that strikes fear into my heart are the centipedes. Although, it’s not the ones I see who scare me. It’s one who may be hiding in my shoe when I forget to check. I haven’t been bitten, but there are horror stories about how painful they are. People unlucky enough to be bitten, are normally horribly sick for a couple of days. The centipedes in the United States are known to have painful bites, but aren’t as potent as the ones here. Last month (April 2019), a 54-year-old Thai woman from the country was bitten by a large centipede (they can get up to a foot long). She went to the hospital and received an injection. She went home, had dinner, and went to bed in great pain. She never woke up again.
I haven’t seen any of the huge ones in my yard, but every time I turn over a flower pot or stone in my garden, I find one that’s two or three inches long. They’re fast, and hard to kill. Last week, I saw one in my house for the first time. It was scurrying along the kitchen floor, looking for cover when I turned on the light. He escaped before I could kill him.
Last night was one of my strangest encounters with flying insects. I went to bed, and accidentally left the light on in the master bathroom. I woke up in the middle of the night, and stumbled over to use the toilet. When I opened the door, the entire room was filled with flying insects. The ceiling and walls were covered, as well as the floor. They were getting in through the tiny holes in the window screen and were losing their wings, turning into crawling creatures. Luckily, in Thailand, the shower is just a part of the bathroom. There is no curtain, or separation of any kind between the shower area and the rest of the room. I grabbed the flexible shower hose, turned the water on full blast, and started washing these things down the drain. It didn’t take long to rid the room of them, surprisingly.
After a little research, I learned they were flying termites. They tend to swarm after the first rains, and last night it rained. Apparently, the queen flies as high as possible, with all the winged males in pursuit. Only the fastest, strongest male will mate with the queen. The rest of the males lose their wings and die. I also learned people in Cambodia and the Isaan region of Thailand collect these termites with nets and eat them … yuck! If I would’ve swept them up, I could’ve easily filled up half of a gallon bucket. They’re harmless, and most Thai houses these days, are made entirely of block and cement.
I’ve seen snakes occasionally crossing the road near the lake by my house as I’m driving home. Once, I saw one that was bright green and about six-feet long. I had to swerve my scooter to keep from hitting it. Most snakes in Thailand are at least somewhat venomous, so I kept my distance. I still haven’t seen a cobra, but that’s because I live in northern Thailand, and they tend to live in the south.
Have any of you had any interesting experiences with the critters in your neck of the woods? Feel free to share! Hope you all have a great June, and thanks for reading!