May 15, 2012

Snakes, and Snails, and Spiders! Oh My!

We've been living on the island for a little less than a year now. In that time I've become personally acquainted with some of the more interesting wildlife that lives among us on this small stretch of land between the East China Sea, and the Philippine Sea.

Before I go any further I have to explain that I grew up in the Mid-West. Or more specifically, Wisconsin. If you're even remotely familiar with that part of the country, then you know that once November/December hits, every living thing that normally grows, crawls, eats, or sleeps outside either dies or hibernates until spring. This means that things like bugs, spiders, snakes, and other creepy crawlies generally don't grow to be very big because most of them are all born, and then die in the time span of about 6 months.

I distinctly remember the year I was 18, it was the morning we were leaving for a family vacation to Washington DC, I pulled back the shower curtain, and a harmless black house spider about the size of a nickel fell into the bottom of our tub. I screamed bloody murder of course, which in turn cause my father to catapult himself up the stairs to rescue me from whatever it was that was dismembering my body. Imagine his astonishment to discover it was a teeeeeeeny tiiiiiiiny little spider that had caused such a terrible scream to rip from my lungs. That and my awful phobia of spiders courtesy of a movie that shall remain nameless.

If only I'd known. . .

Fast forward a few years to the time spent living in the southern portion of the United States. Savannah Georgia, where I was convinced that God had rendered every disgusting, slimy, stinging, or dangerous, creature to live in one small area of swampy land. I got used to giant flying roaches (affectionately referred to as "Palmetto Bugs" by the Southern Gentry), even larger spiders, snakes of all kinds, lizards (which my dog would eat whole and later vomit up on my beige carpet), alligators, and armadillos that apparently carry rabies under their shells, and will royally screw the alignment on your car if you happen to run one over. So you'd think I'd be used to coming into contact with the creatures of the world. Yeah. Not so much.

Then we moved to Okinawa. We have the flying roaches here. I can deal with those. But then there is a whole host of other things that really (to be blunt) just scare the shit out of me. Lets start with the Habu. This is a snake that scares the locals so badly that it caused a grown man to retreat faster than lightening out of a hole in my friend's yard simply because she uttered the word. Their venom is so deadly that the anti venom apparently only works once. You do not want to mess with these guys. And I learned recently that the hill top upon which I live is called Habu Hill. Just. Frickin. Great. Here is a picture of our friendly neighborhood Habu.

Just looking at this thing incites immediate panic. BLAAAAAH! I know I'm going have nightmares about this one. Not to mention the fact that my neighbor found one on his front steps a few months ago. I will never be used to this.

Lets move along to the GAS's. Oh yes. Thats Giant African Snail. These things can be as big as your hand or larger. Being hermaphrodites, they multiply faster than you can say "Holy crap, these things are disgusting!" and before you know it your patio is practically covered with them every time it rains. It's a good thing I tried Escargot shortly after we moved here, because I will NEVER eat them again. These huge boogers in shells are all over the place. They carry a bacteria that can cause encephalitis if ingested raw. And it would be my luck that my kids would pick one up and then lick their hands. . . So I've instructed them never, under any circumstances to touch one. Ever. Period. Then while running the other day I accidentally ran one over with my stroller. The crunch, and the sight of a huge, bloody, grayish-brownish, boogerish thing that I then proceeded to step in, made me almost barf on the spot and I spent the next mile and a half of the run dry-heaving, and praying I didn't puke. GAS's, while not scary are certainly grossity gross gross.


And finally we'll talk about what I found in my kitchen this morning that caused me to panic, and run to the neighbor's house (for the second time) to help me rid my house of this terrible beast. Yeah. You guessed it. A spider. But we're not talking just any spider. See, I don't mind the little baby house spiders. But again, we're not talking about those. We're talking about a big hairy spider with a leg radius as big as my hand. is it on me? I swear it's on me, It was just hanging out above the door to my garbage closet. I didn't even notice it until I was packing my son's lunch for school. I think it's still on me. I had to do the "self talk" I can handle this. I can do this. I can handle this. I can do this. etc. For those of you who talk to yourselves, this is not unusual behavior. You understand. But as it turns out, giant spiders just chillin on my wall is more than I can take. That right there is my breaking point. So I went outside in search of a savior. My merciful neighbor was outside as well, and assisted in killing the monster. Ok, actually I stood far, far away while my neighbor killed the monster with my broom. And all was right with the world again. The following is not a picture of MY spider. But it is a picture of the same kind of spider. 


So that is my story for today. And I shall never speak of these creatures again. Until I see one. God help me.