Day of Nature

There was a strong nature-oriented theme this morning. On the way back from dropping Iris off at school, I stopped at Greenbrier Nurseries to pick up a few houseplants, because we need to bring a plant to the school for Iris to take care of to help teach her about responsibility. After snagging the plants, I drove home and saw a box turtle in the middle of the main road of our neighborhood.

box turtle

Kathryn and I have a habit of stopping whenever we see a turtle in the road while driving. I guess we just can’t bear the thought of flattened turtle meat in the road. And I guess we’re always scouting for easy karma points. So, I pull over and walk over to pick up the turtle, which was headed towards the steep upward embankment on the side of the road. I couldn’t put it on that side, since it would probably just turn around and get back on the road to wait again for other good karma-seekers to snatch it from the jaws of vehicular doom. So I walked it to the other side of the road to place it in the tall grass. The turtle hissed at me as I transported it, as if to say, “You bastard! I spent all morning trying to get to the OTHER side! Who do you think you are???”

Then, when I got home, I saw the dead mouse that Kathryn warned me about on the phone as I was returning home.

dead mouse

Apparantly one of the cats decided to take a drink after killing the mouse, regarding the liquid refreshment as a higher priority to leaving the dead rodent in its mouth. Or the cat, in its sadistic nature, decided to see for its amusement how well a dead or dying rodent can float. Or it was the much less likely scenario of the mouse deciding to do itself in by leaping voluntarily to its watery demise. Thinking along these lines has already convinced me that I need to get out more.

6 responses to “Day of Nature

  1. Samhain swallowed a mouse whole once, while I watched. It was bleeding first. They don’t smell as bad as dead frogs, at least. Dead mouse goes to skeleton in THREE DAYS.

  2. Three days? Wow; nature is efficient!

    I walked Gonzo one day and noticed that dead mouse smell. I looked around and saw what looked at first to be a still-living mouse or vole moving around. But it was dead. And moving. And these bugs were moving it:

    It was bizarre how frantic-looking the bugs where. These snippets from the wiki article are nauseating:

    “The carcass must be buried by the beetle(s) to get it out of the way of potential competitors, which are numerous.

    The prospective parents begin to dig a hole below the carcass. While doing so, the beetles cover the animal with antibacterial and antifungal oral and anal secretions, slowing the decay of the carcass and preventing the smell of rotting flesh from attracting competition. The carcass is formed into a ball and the fur or feathers stripped away and used to line and reinforce the crypt, where the carcass will remain until the flesh has been completely consumed. The burial process can take around 8 hours.

    The female burying beetle lays eggs in the soil around the crypt. The larvae hatch after a few days and move into a pit in the carcass which the parents have created. Although the larvae are able to feed themselves, both parents also feed the larvae: they digest the flesh and regurgitate liquid food for the larvae to feed on. This probably speeds up larval development.”

    It’s a dirty job, but SOMEONE’S gotta do it!

  3. Gross! “This will be much better with some liquid anal preservatives.”

  4. “slowing the decay of the carcass and preventing the smell of rotting flesh from attracting competition. ”

    Well, they must not have done a good job, because the smell of rotting flesh attracted you! You totally should have nabbed their meal.

  5. Actually, in my quest to destroy the smell, I think someone mentioned these beetles — or maybe it was some kind of worm — that basically took care of dead stuff. But they said colonization of North America has caused them to be mostly extinct. Ugh. I don’t remember very well.

  6. [Sits down next to beetles; fishes out a fork and spoon]

    “So what are we havin’ today, fellas?”

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