Prehistoric Critters

I don’t remember why I asked for a DVD of The Cave of Forgotten Dreams from the library.  I had to get it through InterLibrary Loan so it took awhile.  I have a vague memory of seeing something recently about cave art so that is probably it, but I’m not sure I’ll ever remember for sure.

It was captivating to see the cave art (from the Chauvet Cave in southern France) – the public is not allowed in the caves so it felt a little like getting away with something although the scientists and camera crew did have permission.

The film got weird in a few places, a little disconnected and then at the end it got REALLY weird.  In a “postscript”, the film introduces a nuclear power near the caves and then continues to show the crocodiles who have been added to the warm waters of the plant.  Not only that, but some albino crocodiles became the final focus with the film clearly suggesting that they are mutants from radiated water.  This, of course, captured my interest in a big way.  First off, they weren’t crocodiles, they were alligators – classic u-shaped alligator snouts.  But more importantly, why in heaven’s sake would a nuclear power plant build a crocodile farm?

Of course all my questions were answered when I actually looked up at the screen just in time to see “Written, Directed and Narrated by Werner Herzog”.  I don’t know a lot about Herzog but I have seen enough comments over the years to know that he doesn’t use the same definition of “truth” that I do.  This made it incredibly easy to fact-check the crocodile farm story.  The power plant did NOT build the croc farm; it was built by two crocodile enthusiasts.  They are close to the cave and they do use the water from the nuclear power plant but the water is consistently tested and has never shown any radioactivity.  And the albinos?  Imported from a croc farm in the Southern U.S.; they were albino before they even reached the French waters.  Not radioactive mutants.  None of this really explains the purpose of the postscript of the film, but it was interesting research.

The most noteworthy fact I found is that the French croc farm is not the only place on the planet where crocodiles are benefitting from nuclear waters.  Apparently 25% of the crocodiles in the U.S. thrive among the cooling canals at Turkey Point Nuclear Plant south of Miami.  They are protected, having been encouraged there since the discovery of the first nest back in the 70s.  Fascinating.

Have you ever held a baby alligator or crocodile in your hands?  Snake?  Tarantula?  Anything?

46 thoughts on “Prehistoric Critters”

  1. Using a bulldozer at Coober Pedy opal fields was a fascinating experience peeling of the rock and dirt to find seashells which have been turned to opal as well as small starfish, mussel shells, a solid gut from a fish or animal, and even a finger from some critter or a penis from a very small man. Some of the opal seashells had spectacular colors. We had a round lump of dirt ripped up with a patterned dome on top. Evidently, a turtle shared a piece of soft rock where he had been once. Another guy found two solid opal turtles years ago and smashed them up to fit in the bucket to get them out of the shaft. Ther y were complete and solid precious opal. I am writing a book about this guy, a Greek who robbed all of his partners Nikki The Greek Leaving Ikaria is the book when finished . I have 60000 words so far. at least another 60000 to finish it, He found millions of dollars and blew the lot , Dying a poor man in Athens three yr=ears ago.

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  2. At the end of a trip to Brazil back in 2015, we spent three days in the Amazon basin near Manaus. One evening we went out in a boat to look for caimans (relative to crocs and gators). Our guide found a baby one about a foot and a half long. Several of us, including me, got to hold it – carefully I might add since it had quite the mouthful of teeth already. I’ve had a few opportunities to hold large snakes – always declined (shudder!!).

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I held a very small baby alligator, in Grand Cayman. We were at a turtle farm and they don’t normally have alligators there but for some reason they did this time … quite a few hatchlings. I think the alligator I held was probably about 18 inches long and as Krista mentioned, had quite a few teeth.

      I’ve also held a snake a few times, not because I wanted to but because I didn’t want YA to grow up being afraid of snakes like I was. It must’ve worked.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Wish I had known about the albino alligators at the end. I bailed on that movie too soon!

    For the record, I have done the classic boa constrictor pose at Reptile Garderns in Rapid City, once as a child, once as a parent.

    S&h was bit on the elbow at daycare by a pregnant garter snake (my corner of St Paul is famous for being a garter snake haven- I don’t know why, but they are everywhere). The teacher told he he was completely unfussed and the class sort of thought he was a rock star for the rest of the day.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Just checked to see if Cave of Lost Dreams was at the library (it used to be). It’s not, but I see they do have the complete series of Lost In Space!

      It’s going to be a long winter, I should maybe request it.

      Liked by 6 people

  4. My third cousin Tom loves reptiles and amphibians. He is a commercial snake breeder. He also rescues feral and abandoned cats in Madelia, so he loves the furry and fluffy, too. I believe I have held at least one of the creatures you list, and I found them dry and their feet scratchy.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Was just watching Nature about Big Bend NP, full of the creatures you name. Fascinating to watch. But I reluctantly admit I have a visceral reaction to snakes. Farms collect lots of garter snakes in MN. Every time one slithered out from under my feet, offf went my heart rate and blood pressure. Still does on rare ocassion one comes into my yard. How stupid is that. There is no logic. So many humans have this reaction. The people who wrote the beginning of of Genesis had the same reaction it seems, when you consider the curse put on the snake.
    And Boots the dog liked to attack snakes and amphibians. He would pick them up and quickly spit them out. Toads I know why; they secrete a chemical repellant to many of their enemies such as dogs. The snakes I always guessed because they wriggled in his mouth. He never bit into one. Why was that? Was it a game to him?
    I am not quite sure how people catch garter snakes. They move so quickly, not that I wanted to.

    Liked by 6 people

  6. Yes. I’ve held lots of frogs, toads, salamanders, and garter snakes. I saw a beautiful skink once on the Sakatah Trail between Waterville and Elysian. It was too quick to catch. I’ve never held an alligator, croc, or caiman though. I’m not sure I’d want to.

    Yes, Renee’s cousin Tom (TeeJay to me) is a good friend of mine. He is also an artist and a luthier who made my banjolin and my mandolin. He keeps snakes in his basement.

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      1. They can sense if you are tense. Their spines are very sharp when they bristle them but when you are relaxed and they are likewise relaxed, their spines lay flat against their body. They’re reactive, at least with people they don’t know, so you have to be conscious of your muscle tension and also it’s best not to make any sudden movements.

        Liked by 5 people

  7. I’ve touched or held lots of creepy crawly creatures in my lifetime. Growing up, I had a pet box turtle, Sophie, and a chameleon whose name I don’t remember. Mom got rid of both of them when I went off to boarding school. She claimed they died, but I have my doubts.

    I held a boa constrictor at the zoo in Dublin when I was eleven. It was a large, well fed, docile boa that was used to being handled, but still, what a thrill. I’ve been fascinated by snakes ever since, and read everything I could get my hands on about them. In the wild I’ve encountered snakes only a few times, that I’m aware of, though I’m pretty sure I’ve been in the presence of some that I wasn’t aware of.

    My first sighting of a snake in the wild was while camping in Vedauwoo near Cheyenne. It’s was a small rattler, which unnerved me, because where there’s a small rattler, chances are there are some bigger ones, too. That one was a little too close for comfort, so we decided to camp elsewhere. When hiking in Wyoming’s wildernesses, I was always on the lookout for possible wildlife, including snakes, you just never knew when you’d come across some wild critter. I once came around a bend on a narrow mountain path and stood face to face with a huge mountain goat with two kids. Fortunately she decided I wasn’t a threat, and led her kids straight down the steep mountainside while I waited to pass. On another occasion, we were off the beaten path in Bridger National Forest. As we were sitting there in the car at the end of a path going nowhere, trying to figure out where the heck we were, a mountain lion passed in front of our car, perhaps thirty feet from us. Probably the most exciting wild creature I’ve seen, not in captivity. Back then, 1966 or 1967, we saw lots of bears in Yellowstone, but they hardly seemed wild, though they were. They were so accustomed to people that they were unafraid to approach cars and beg for food. People would get out of their cars and have their picture taken next to them. Crazy!

    Southern Illinois is snake heaven, there are lots of snakes there, both venomous and non. Sometimes when swimming at Little Grassy Lake, you could spot a water moccasin in the water, it was a good idea to give them wide berth.

    During my three month stint working at W.T. Grant’s store in Riverhead, Long Island, I was in charge of the pet department on the days when the woman normally in charge was off. That meant cleaning out all animal cages, aquariums and terrariums. At the time they sold baby alligators – don’t ask me why – nasty little hissing creatures, that I really didn’t want to handle, but had to. These were no more than five or six inches long, but they absolutely did not like me any more than I liked them. They would try to bite me with their tiny, sharp teeth. I was much more comfortable racing around the store with a net on a long pole trying to capture an escaped bird, or scooping dead fish out of the various aquariums. I didn’t much care for cleaning out the gerbil cages either, especially after they attacked one of their own and ate half its face off before I was aware there was a problem. What a bloody mess that was.

    Sorry folks, I just get carried away when I think of these things.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. I find garter snakes get baled up once in a while… maybe more often than I think as I only see the ones half sticking out of a bale…

    I remember as a kid, walking home from the bus and I went to jump over a stick laying in the road. As I jumped I realized it was a snake. It was like a cartoon: feet spinning in the air and I ran a long ways before I stopped.
    These days, I get Fox snakes in the machine shed; they like the warm sheet metal and have a cozy space on top of the 2×4 framing. They’re pretty good sized, maybe 4′-5′ long and 3″ diameter. I don’t pet them.

    I don’t like spiders and want nothing to do with them. I’ve picked up a few animals, but nothing too exotic. A lot of dead things, does that count??

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    When I was 12 years old we moved to a house which was, at that time, on the edge of town. There was a ravine at the back edge of the property which was not yet filled in. That ravine held all kinds of critters, including snakes and toads, which then got into our yard and basement. At first I reacted with the stereotypical scream.

    Then my uncle taught me how to hold a baby garter snake which showed up in the basement weekly. I am sure he was weary of being called over to rescue the critters. The adult snakes did exist in the yard, but they did not get into the basement, only the babies did that.

    I became proficient at chasing down the little buggers which moved with alacrity, holding them behind the head, then transporting them back to the ravine. Later in the summer a backhoe arrived and filled in the ravine and smoothed it out. That vastly reduced the numbers of them to having only several per summer get into the basement, then eventually none at all. The crickets, however, were permanent residents of the basement.

    So now you know my secret skill. Snake catching.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. This is not my story, but the person who told it to me, and to whom it happened, is not here on the Trail. She is someone Steve knew as well and her veracity is reliable.

    She and her partner keep birds- cockatoos, I think, and when a new veterinary clinic opened in their neighborhood and announced an open house, they were eager to check it out. For the open house, the veterinarians and staff all brought their own pets in to show to the visitors. After chatting with several of the employees, they found themselves having a lengthy conversation with a man who had a sizable python- maybe three or four feet long. As they talked, the python began crawling up her arm. When she looked down at it, it struck, sinking its fangs into her eyeball.

    So she had this python attached to her eyeball and of course she had to support its weight while the vet technician rushed her into a private room. A veterinarian who specialized in herpetology was brought in and he carefully unhinged the python’s jaw so that it could be detached from her eyeball. Once she and the snake were separated, she was given a towel to hold over eye, which was bleeding profusely, and she and her partner rushed to the emergency room.

    At the hospital, they explained what had happened and an eye specialist came to assess the damage. Luckily the python had bitten on either side of the cornea and so her vision wasn’t permanently impaired. She did, however, have to put in antibiotic eyedrops every four hours for several weeks while her eye healed.

    She told us that what particularly surprised her was how matter-of-fact the eye specialist was about these bizarre circumstances. She asked him about it. It turns out that he had seen the same thing before, where a snake had struck at someone’s eye.

    “That’s what they do”, he said.

    Liked by 5 people

        1. She could have sued them but opted not to on the condition that they never ever bring that snake, or any snakes anywhere near the public.

          Liked by 3 people

  11. Joel had a terrarium in his room at one point, and Husband and I are trying to remember what lived there – think it was some little lizard, but we didn’t have much contact with it, and I doubt if I would have had occasion to touch it.

    It doesn’t bother me to pick up things like that, though, even a little garter snake, if I’m the one in control, and can see ahead of time what I’m dealing with. I think why humans have a problem with snakes, spiders, centipedes, etc. is how damn FAST they can go, and it’s the surprise factor that’s alarming.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I have a friend who at one point had a “pet” iguana, a pretty sizeable one. She found it a new home when it became so big that she could no longer handle it. I don’t know what the appeal was, and I don’t think iguanas make good pets in Minnesota.

    At SIU I had a friend who had a pet tarantula. Fascinating, but I never took her up on her offer to hold or touch it, I was content to just look at it. I, myself, had a pet chinchilla. Juanita was her name. Just the softest little creature, but in my estimation, not an animal that makes a good pet. Mine was a rescue from a woman who had intended to raise chinchillas for their fur. She relented when she saw how cute they were.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Randell Boggs from Monsters Inc.
    Everyone fears the quickness of multi-limbed characters.
    And added to that is the amazing voice of Steve Buscemi. An outstanding actor with a face to match a wicked voice.
    Those wicked looking milli/centipedes you find in basements are actually our harmless friends.
    I’ll just keep them as acquaintances.

    Liked by 5 people

  14. The only critter I am wary of right now is the one spreading the stomach flu all over town. We had 3 staff from my unit out yesterday, and our team leader had 13 students in her daughter’s class of 25 out today. A 2 year old hurled in my office last Thursday. Boy, did I don protective gear to get that cleaned up! Luckily, most of it went on the mother.

    Liked by 1 person

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