Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lizards and Scorpions and Snakes - Oh My!!

Hello all. For those of you who are still tuned in this is the post you’ve been waiting for. Allow me to introduce you to some of the wonderful wildlife that I get to share my world with around here in the great wide open spaces of Iraq. Now bear in mind that I still have at least one other animal to get a pictures of eventually. But really, the Jackals only come out at night and don’t care for humans so they won’t stay still long enough really or be in a well enough lit place, so I won’t make you wait until I accomplish that feat.

Without further ado – the animal that you all should know for sure I get to have visit our abode is the wonderful scorpion. And in this case, the Death Stalker scorpion seems to be the most popular around here and this is the 3rd one to find in our office in a month. It shouldn’t kill a healthy Soldier really, but that’s no guarantee and doesn’t mean that getting stung wouldn’t suck big-time enough to make you wish you weren’t dead.

This next guy most folks have heard of. Welcome to the wonder and beauty that is the Camel Spider. While not really a spider (it’s actually part of the tick family) that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t look like some demonic alien species hell bent on sucking the brains out off all civilization. Read the hyperlink – there is a lot of rumor and exaggerated stories about these guys. But I can promise that they will eat a dime to half-dollar size hole in your skin while you’re asleep if they get the chance. Happened to one of our guys last tour. These freak-a-zoids are mostly nocturnal as well but can sometimes be found in the shadows. We’ve found one before in the office and this beauty in the barracks area.

This guy’s torso is about as long as a standard cigarette lighter and with the legs fully spread probably measured about 6” across. I’ve only seen one bigger but it got away before I could catch it. They are fast enough.

This area of the world also has its share of snakes. And of course, if you want to be anywhere near the top of the food chain in this land you have to be poisonous – so pretty much all the snakes here are. This guy got caught on a sticky pad that we use all over the place to catch mainly mice, but also anything else that wanders around too much (we usually put them across the doorway into our rooms as well). The sticky pad is about 6”x3” so I have to guess this guy at about 2 feet at full length. Oh, and the huge freaking flying cockroach looking thing on the pad as well – yeah, we have those too.

Well that’s enough horror show time for most of you so I figured I’d give you a slightly lighter side of the wildlife here. This little lizard guy is one of plenty that we have here around the FOB. Pretty much any night you can find a few running around the barracks area, and that’s a good thing. Not only are these guys harmless and somewhat cute, they also eat a lot of smaller bugs throughout the night – so these guys are my heroes. This little dude in-particular I found hiding behind the water bottles in my room. It was a heck of a task to run him out of the room, and I learned that they can actually scream. I kid you not as I was trying to usher him out each time he was scurry from point A to point B I could hear a very quiet and very high pitched whining sound. I though I was delusional the first time I heard it. But sure enough that guy was cursing me out for sending him out of the nice air-conditioned room all the way out the door into the summer sun, and I could hear it.

Last but not least – this cool looking bug here landed on some paperwork at my office. There are plenty of small gnat – fly sized bugs and most are plain desert colors. But this guy I thought was pretty cool with his neat little red markings across his back. Just for size reference – the “Y” you see on the paper is in 10pt font. So yeah, hommie was pretty small.

And NO, I didn’t kill it! Everything I catch I try and set free. The scorpion died accidentally as I was trying to trap it under a cup. And the snake was screwed before I got to him. But I did put him out of his misery just after the photo. I just couldn’t bear to see him like that especially knowing how long snakes can survive without sustenance and knowing the trap poison most likely wouldn’t get through the scales. Call me goofy – call me crazy (many who know me do) but I have a soft spot for strange, deadly, and/or poisonous creatures. Besides…they all serve a purpose. As far as I know, Mr. Camel Spider is happily freaking someone else out elsewhere on the FOB at this point.

Well, that’s the way of the wild here in good ol’ Al Kut, Iraq. I hope I’ve brightened your day and helped you can an appreciation of those innocuous ants and flies that we all complain about back home.

Before I leave I will say that if you know of anyone looking to send a care package to some troops, I have 8 more here and a ton of civilians who could all use some random tastes of back home. Standard junk food is always appreciated, just avoid the chocolates and other melt-able foods at this time of year. Regular personal hygiene items (body soap, GOOD razors, shaving cream, Q-tips), baby wipes, AA and AAA batteries, games (travel size or regular), books (used are 100% fine and even encouraged), and if you’re trying to be creative and think of stuff I haven’t mentioned here, just think - “other items that you might get someone who is living in a dorm type setting”.

Items can be sent to me and I promise they will be opened up and the contents available for all to benefit from.

SFC Jason Hoyt (8974)
Wasit – PRT
FOB Delta
APO AE 09317

That’s it for me for now. Time to get back to whatever it was this war needed me to do next. I already have some photos for the next blog, so hopefully you won’t have to wait as long till the next one. For now, of course, have a great rest of your weekend.


Mrs B. said...

As if going to a somewhat hostile country, and being in the desert, and living away from your friends and family for a year, and helping to keep a whole freaking country/world full of people safe wasn't enough to garner my respect...the bugs sent me over the edge. Thank God you're over there, because after this post, I know FO SHO I wouldn't make it! :-)

NHoyt said...

Ew, ew, ew, ew, ew. Seriously my skin is still crawling. I can't handle our brown house spiders, let alone blood sucking, human killing, monster camel spiders!