27 March 2006

Little Creatures: Fred's Rescue (part 2)

(part 1)

When last we met, a wayward salamander dashed into my apartment to set up residence.

I tread carefully and peaked around corners. Several days passed with no sign of the beast.

Mom suggested putting out a saucer of water to lure the critter from hiding, pointing out that it would shrivel and die without it. It hadn't occurred to me and suddenly I was faced with an image worse than the slimy fellow running across my clean kitchen counters. Fred would not die on my watch.

I checked the sources of water in my apartment, even my plants, to see if he'd found refuge. No sign.

In the middle of my living room floor away from easy hiding places I set the oasis. I imagined capturing Fred while he lounged poolside, my styrofoam cup and envelope at the ready. (Somehow these were deemed appropriate salamander catching tools.) Instead, I discovered the evaporation rate of water in Florida this time of year.

By the third time I'd topped off his plate, Fred had become my invisible pet. Before I turned off the lights for the night, I'd tell him supper was ready in the living room.

Two weeks, no sign, and again all the water was gone. Hopeless. I removed the plate.

The week before I'd purchased one of those drain-sludge battling concoctions that I just hadn't gotten around to using. In one of those rare motivated moments, I pulled back my shower curtain only to see Fred, there in the tub.

I quickly disarmed my alarm and gathered my cup and envelope. Fred's a fast little dude though. I couldn't tell if he'd hidden on or under my shower curtain. I checked both sides more than once but just couldn't find him. With some reluctance, I peered into the drain with my flashlight. Impossible to say.

Through the course of the evening, I tried to catch him unawares in the tub but he hid steadfastly. There would be no Drano that night.

This morning, there was Fred hanging out on the green plastic as I took my shower. There wasn't much I could do at that point. I did my best not to splash soap in his direction. My cup and envelope were handy, but since my life philosophy is to sleep as much as possible, there was no time to act before going to work. I could only hope he would stay in the tub until I got home. Thinking ahead, I plugged the drain while I could still see him so that'd be once less place he could hide.

When I arrived home, two weeks of prep and practice under my belt, I was ready. My alarm was off, my door unlocked, and I had the element of surprise. A quick shake to the shower curtain and there he was in the middle of the tub. I hauled the plastic up and over the edge out of his reach. He scrambled but fortunately for me didn't seem able to climb all the way up the tub walls. With my trusty styrofoam cup, I tried to coax him in. No luck, a compelling adversary. Ultimately it was the envelope that saved the day. He climbed onto it so I could cover him with the cup and safely escort him outside. This time, I walked to the bottom of my wet, slimy, leaf-covered stairs. A cool, damp, Florida evening. A salamander's heaven.

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  1. Happy Salamander Ending! I'm glad you didn't have to squash him flat. We used to find lizards in our bathtub in CA. That was fun.

  2. I like salamanders and chameleons and all this cute, little, non-lethal lizards. I used to capture them at my grandparents' house in Florida all the time.

    Ironic that I have a picture of their country club as the background on my computer as I read/type this. My wallpapers are on a daily rotation, so the odds are quite small of this having happened. The place in the photo is actually a pond where I see chameleons all the time.

  3. Michele: Me too!

    Kevin: I used to catch them as a kid too, but somewhere along the line they became too wriggly for me. :]

  4. What a great little story! Back in 2001, I drove to Key West (DC to Key West in two days - don't ask me how fast I was driving.) I stayed in a little b&b on the unfashionable end of the island, and my cabana had a little veranda where I spent my evenings reading, drinking champagne and eating cherries. I had company every evening - a pile of little lizards that would strike poses for me on the stucco walls of my little porch. Loved it. They were so cool.

  5. Lizards I like, salamanders I'm a little more concerned about... Still, they're the ones I can find here, although they're rare, so I suppose if I found one in the house I'd have to catch it and donate it to a zoo...

    On various occasions in Greece I've had lizards staying in my room. Quite intriguing creatures, really!

  6. Merujo: I've driven from Tally to DC in 2 days, so I've got a good idea how fast you were driving. ;]

    Scholiast: I'm not so sure about lizards in general, but then they come in so many shapes and sizes. I prefer them small when I do encounter them.

  7. You're a good person, returning the little lizard to his home, rather than killing him in yours.

    I knew I like you!