Friday, May 23, 2014

Critters and creatures that crawl

There was a bit of excitement on the playground this week.  During our second break, lunchtime, a small snake decided he wanted to join in on the eating fun.  Don’t worry; it wasn’t a small child that was on the menu, but a lizard.  This happened on Tuesday and it was still the talk of the school on Friday.  I wasn’t brave enough to get close enough for a picture, but luckily Maria was there at the ready.  She got some pretty amazing shots.  After the photo shoot, the snake was put in a box and taken into the science room.  Nothing like teachable moments in Tanzania!

This got me thinking again about a blog post I have been planning for some time.  I realized a few months ago that I have not grown up with bugs and critters.  Sure, there are ants, flies, mosquitos, ladybugs, and others in Wyoming, but I have never experienced so many kinds of small creatures.  From lizards smaller than my fingers to insects as big as my fist, the diversity is really amazing!  Anytime I see another interesting creature and my camera is close, it’s time for a few snapshots.  There are others that I have had to miss simply because my camera was not with me.  Let me introduce you to a few of the stars of my time in Dodoma!
Let me start with the lizards and lizard type critters.  This chameleon was smaller than my hand.  I've seen 3 chameleons since being in Tanzania.  They are really cool creatures!

This little guy was climbing on the wall near the swimming pool in Arusha.  He's only slightly longer than my hand.
 The next three are tiny little guys, not longer than a finger.  The little ones are probably my favorites!

I have lots of pictures of this colorful one.  He likes to hang out in the roof of my building and I've named him Peter because he has the same colors as Spiderman and they fade or become more vibrant as the year progresses, so sometimes  he looks like a plain old lizard.  He's easily as long as my arm from fingertip to elbow.  He also hangs out with this smaller guy sometimes.

This gecko found his way into my shower. 

Speaking of things that have found their way into my shower, that list could go on forever.  The basin of my shower is shallow, but slick and many times critters find themselves stuck inside.  Here are only two examples, but I've also seen beetles. spiders, ants, cockroaches, and smaller centipedes that have met their end in my shower.

There is also quite the range of spider types that hang around. (See what I did there?)
Luckily this one was no where near my house.  Early in the school year, the staff took a trip to a local winery and this one was hanging out in the picnic shelter.

At first, I thought this was a tiny crab, before I realized that he could have fit on a US quarter and that we are no where near the ocean.  Still, he's pretty impressive looking!

I  had never seen a praying mantis before Tanzania.  They have to be one of my favorite insects.  They look SO cool and there are so many different kinds of them here, too.  Who knew?


At home, I cringe every single time I see a moth.  They are creepy.  Maybe if they looked  more like these, I wouldn't be so freaked out by them.

I also have a strange fascination with these HUGE centipedes.  They are about as long as my foot and I have seen several of them around since the rainy season started.  It's funny that I like them so much because I have a strange fear of worms.  Maybe worms just need to grow several sets of legs.
This one was hanging out on the wall outside my bedroom window, as seen below. 

Large flying, stinging insects are everywhere.  These wasps are easily 3 inches long and just look scary.  There are also black and white bees that like to burrow into the wood around the school.  Luckily none of them are openly aggressive, but I still steer clear of them whenever I get the chance!

There are many different kinds of grasshoppers here as well.  This one was hanging out on a wall, in this position.  He is probably the longest one I've seen, about the size of my middle finger. 
This master of disguise found his way to my front door.  Isn't it amazing!  If he had been anywhere else, I would have missed him.
This picture represents the most annoying creature I spend my time with.  This is a tiny carpenter ant mound that I am forever removing from my front steps.  Carpenter ants are also called white ants or termites.  They devour wood and build little mounds like this one.  The mounds crawl up walls and wooden structures.  While it is interesting to see a stick laying on the ground covered by their efforts, constantly removing them from the front of my house is quite annoying.

This is the only time I've seen this beetle, which tends to be the theme for most of my critter encounters.  Most of the beetles I see are small and black.  This one was cool!
I have, on a few occasions, spotted a frog hopping around.  This is the only one that stood still long enough for a picture. :)
One of the ways that I know that there are many other critters that encounter me, but I miss is this.  Some of my friends sent me these gel clinging decorations around Christmas, so that I could have a bit of snow in Tanzania.  When I went to take them off my fridge, I noticed that they were COVERED with tiny insects that had flown into them and never flown away.  After only a few weeks!  Life sure is interesting.

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