Monday, October 30, 2006

Bugs for Dinner

Before he headed back to school yesterday [he comes home most weekends for the chance to sleep in a bed that is actually long enough for him], the YB and I decided to go for a little hike in the Withlacoochee forest. It was still in there, and dappled and sunny and green. We moved along the trail as quietly as we could, the better to spot some "critters". Saw a good sized deer early in the hike, but, as he bounced off into the distance, we thought we'd have better luck if we stood as still as possible for as long as possible.

In mid standing-still-mode I heard a furtive but steady rustling in the leaves just off the path. No noisy gallumphing creature this. I peered towards the noise and saw --- a long, thick, glossy snake. A few years ago I would have taken to my heels at a high rate of speed. Now I stood, rooted to the spot, not breathing, signalling soundlessly to the YB to come see. "Rattlesnake," he whispered. He has always been a wildlife nut, but still I cocked an eyebrow at him to be sure he wasn't pulling my leg. "Look at the diamond shaped markings..." After his years of devouring Reptile magazine and keeping various kinds of snakes as pets, I didn't doubt him. I was glad, though, that I'd worn jeans and sneakers and thick socks. We watched for a while longer, then went quietly on our way, keeping a wary eye on the path for any of his friends.

Soon we heard more rustling . Much more vigorous this time, so we stopped, and listened again, and soon spotted the rustler. It was a large armidallo. He looked like a turtle on stilts, or a football, with his scrawny pointy-eared head on one end and his crazy tail on the other. Whatever bug he was finding must have been delicious, he was poking so enthusiastically in the leaves for more. We pretended we were trees as, snuffling this way and that in his quest for tasty bugs, he shuffled closer and closer. Every now and again he'd rear up on this hind legs and sniff the air. His underbelly was ridiculously pink and naked looking. He knew we were there, but it didn't seem to bother him. At least not until the YB lunged at him to see if he'd really roll himself into a ball! He didn't. He just took off nimbly into the bushes. Probably thinking "Silly humans . Why don't they go back where they came from and let me get on with dinner?"

1 comment:

meggie said...

What a sight! I dont think I have ever seen an Armadillo, even at a zoo.
As SB loves all creatures, we have shared our house with lizards, & I found I dont mind snakes. Have had a huge python draped around my neck with AAG, & I really liked the feel of it.
You are lucky you can go off hiking like that- I suspect my days of being able are over, unless I get my new knee!