Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bobcats, Coyotes and Tarantulas! Oh my!

We share our lives with some amazing creatures, both indoors and out.  Having lived in Virginia, Louisiana, Florida, Maine and now Texas, I've seen my share of local wildlife.  Each new environment brings new creatures to marvel at, new animals to become familiar with and look out for.  These are those magical, natural  moments.

As a kid growing up just outside of Washington, D.C, I was mesmerized by the local deer.  We lived in a wooded area of northern Virginia, just a stone's throw from the city.  I used to scan everywhere for those secretive deer because I was drawn to their quiet mystery.  We'd catch glimpses of them in the woods, often just their white tails by the side of the road, trotting away from our headlights.

While in Louisiana, I lived in New Orleans, so my wildlife was more human than otherwise.  I was struck by the enormous size of the cockroaches and the gators.  This was my first brush with gators living so close to human homes.  And as far as cockroaches, I distinctly remember walking through the French Quarter one night after listening to music with friends and coming head on with a very large roach.  I looked closer (liquid courage on board) and it suddenly reared up at me.  Yes, reared up!  Terrors confirmed, I gave it a wide berth.

Florida is home to so many different kinds of exotic and amazing creatures.  There was the peacock that lived by the canal near our house; the same canal where we occasionally saw alligators.  There were snakes, both in stores and wild ones.  Large, colorful spiders, commonly known as banana spiders, love the dense Florida brush.  On our way to the Keys, we were lucky enough to see the highly endangered Key Deer (a tiny class of deer found on only a specific Key).  We saw iguanas and turtles pretty often.  One evening, while driving across Florida from the west coast through the Everglades, we had a truly scary experience.  T was still a young child, just past toddling stage.  We decided to take a quick leg-stretching break at a picnic site just off the road at a canal.  The picnic area was protected by knee-high stone walls at the water's edge.  We stood looking at the water as the sun was setting and I was struck by the many shadows on the water.  Having grown up in Florida, Matt knew better.  He grabbed a flashlight from the car and shown it out over the "shadows".  About 12 pairs of alligator eye shine stared back at us.  I startled, but having lived in Florida for a few years, I wasn't shocked.  What was surprising, was that over the next 10 minutes or so, the eye shines that were a good 50 yards away at first glance, had been advancing silently, slowly towards us.  Matt shined the flashlight again and the gators were no more than 20 yards away and closing.  We decided to take our toddler "snack" and get the hell out of there!

Maine was far less dramatic in the wildlife department.  We had a run in with a skunk or two, saw a few foxes, and a beautiful coyote family.  Sadly, we saw no bears, or wild moose.  Cold weather cut the available animals down quite a bit.  I hoped to see a wolf, but never got the chance - I hear wolf re-introduction is possible in northern Maine.  Fingers crossed!

I never imagined that Texas would provide so much wildlife exposure.  Since living here, we've seen a tremendous number of wild creatures.  We live in a fairly urban suburb of Dallas, between Dallas and Fort Worth.  We hear nightly coyote calls from the resident pack that lives behind our home.  There's a walking path next to a creek and across the creek lies thick brush-covered land.  Nearby is the DFW airport property - miles and miles of wild miles.  The coyotes are frequent walking path travelers, coming to and from their open spaces.  Just a year ago, we discovered a resident bobcat.  We've only seen him a couple of times, but what an amazing animal!  He's walked right past us while we had the girls about 10 feet away, and on one occasion, actually dropped down in a stalking stance at Miss Arwen (silly kitty).  One evening, I saw it toying with a rat before disappearing into the brush only about 20 yards away from my balcony.  I've also seen vultures, turtles, snakes, hawks, deer, a tarantula, a nutria, and a fox.  Who would've thought that so much wildlife could thrive in such a hot, dry place!  I'm glad for it, but I hadn't expected it.

Red Tail hawk - caught from my passenger side door eating a rabbit

Bobcat at dusk, toying with a rat captured from my balcony.

Tarantula in the brush about 20 yards from my balcony.

So even when we have wolves in the living room, it's nice to know Mother Nature isn't so very far away, and that we're still very much a part of nature.   It's nice to know that all we need to do is open that front door and let ourselves out!


  1. yikes, those are some scawy things
    Benny & Lily

  2. It is nice to know that even though we think we live in an "urban" space that Nature still hasn't abandoned us. Somewhere in our souls it is important to encounter scary bugs, hear the chill howl of a coyote, jump back at something skittering across the road in the shadows. Keeps us connected somehow.

  3. I don't think I like to have any Tarantula near me!

    It's a bless that we are still under the care of Mother Nature!

  4. Yes we see wild life except coyotes and tarantulas everyday too!! I love seeing them. I leave out fresh water for them all everyday. It has been awful dry here too. I have left water out for the wild life for over 25 years. I feel sorry for them when it is so dry!!!
    Thank you thank you for coming to see me, I love your company!!!
    xx, Fern

  5. That's the biggest spider I've ever seen!!

    Keep safe and have a very happy Halloween!! Booooo!

    Woofs & hugs, <3

    ~Bailey (Yep, I'm a girl!)

  6. you're sooo lucky to have all this nature and awesomeness in your backyard!!

  7. I love being close to nature and critters. the best was living on a goat farm in New Mexico, listening to the coyotes right outside my window and seeing tarantulas around. Now it's raccoons, deer, and opossums--though they don't come to close to all these dogs!

  8. I luv wild things :D That was a very big spider! Glad the bobcat caught your rat ;) Hawks are so majestic. Always a smile maker when Mom and I see them :D

    Waggin at ya,

  9. I'd be terrified to run into a rearing cockroach! The alligator sightings would scare me too. We get urban wildlife here in LA: coyotes, skunks, raccoons. I posted pics a few months ago with the same animals in your post, minus the tarantula. I ended with a canine pic as well. Ha!


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