I have encountered every major Northwest predator in person at some time in my life. Most of them were residents of the same beautiful mountain meadow where we live. A cougar while horseback riding, a pair of wolves from the safety of our car, the occasional black bear while out on a walk, a bobcat, a weasel, a grizzly bear at Yellowstone National Park. While I enjoyed the thrill of being near animals who could eat you if they wanted, I never felt truly unsafe. None of these amazing creatures seemed impressed enough by my presence to bother devouring, maiming, or threatening my life. That changed this week! Our whole family had a close encounter with a dangerous creature. In fact, we invited it into our own home!
We had a moment of sorrow in our house. Scruffy informed our middle son that no, we would not be adopting his cousin’s flock of pet ducks. But Scruff thought that he had found the perfect solution when he came upon a stiff and slow-moving “salamander” during his amble with Princess Leia Freyja.
Scruff scooped up the charming little guy and was pleased to see the critter start moving about as he warmed up in his hands. What a perfect pet! He would present the adorable amphibian to our middle-est son and after a bit of research, finding/building a terrarium (see post about our difficulties with captured mice and homemade mouse habitats of questionable soundness) the glorious days of salamander ownership would be upon us!
And so Scruffy placed our new pet in a Tupperware and started on his office work. Only … the salamander escaped! Scruff pulled out the fridge and the stove looking for our tiny visitor. If you know Scruffy, you know exactly what that means. Yes, he also cleaned behind the fridge and the stove after glancing at the mayhem their removal unearthed. Thank you, My Love! Then finally, he found our slimy friend in the dining room and put him back in the Tupperware.
When the boys got home, our middle son discovered something loose in the kitchen. “Hey Dad, there’s a lizard in here!” Oh, wow! The salamander had escaped again. He was quickly captured. Our blond son loved the idea of constructing a suitable home for the adorable amphibian and jumped into research. Only … he couldn’t find any salamanders that fit our friend’s description. The only critter who looked like him and lived in Washington was the rough-skinned newt. Which just happened to be highly poisonous! “Hmmm … I think he’s too poisonous to keep,” our son mused after seeing that there was no antidote to newt poison and that newt skin was more deadly than a slug of cyanide.
“Wash your hands! Wash your hands!” I commanded, just about the time that we realized our highly poisonous newt had escaped once more!!! Thankfully, one has to actually lick a newt to be poisoned … or possibly rub your eyes after handling them!
Much prayer occurred that night as we all wondered where exactly the newt had wandered. Our youngest lifted up Princess Leia Freyja especially to the Lord as she has been known to slurp random items, just for fun. Late that night, Scruffy discovered our newt downstairs waiting at the door to go outside. On a walk the next day, we took him back to where he’d been before his great indoor adventure and thanked the Lord that no one had accidentally licked him while he was wandering our home.
I spent much of my childhood rehearsing in my mind what to do if I ran into a bear. All the while, I was capturing these adorable critters and toting them around in jars, my pockets, and bare hands before releasing them. I had no idea where the real peril was. Who knew such innocent activities were so dangerous!
Perhaps we should just stick with our pet chickens?