Sunday, 24 March 2013

Animal Antics

As many of you will know, one of the things I was nervous about when coming to Africa was the animals.  I had nightmares about snakes and spiders and cockroaches. Whilst things have largely been quiet on the scary animal front last week was rather a testing week in terms of animal antics.

The week began with a sly little lizard.  In the main I have got used to eating my dinner and going to bed with lizards on the ceiling / wall.  Indeed as I sit at my kitchen table writing this there is a lizard walking up the wall beside me.  In the main we stay out of each others way and life continues happily.  However, last week a couple of lizard decided to come a little closer than I like.  Firstly, one walked across my desk at work, causing me jump a little, then one decided to sit on the mosquito net above my bed.  I have a dome mosquito net so the damn lizard was bouncing around like a toddle on a bouncy castle.  It couldn't get settled and neither could I, laying as I was beneath it!  Needless to say I didn't have the best night's sleep that night.  I kept the light on all night so I could see it and in doing so alerted the pastors wife who, the following morning, enquired whether I was a either a workaholic, staying up all night or sick.  I didn't have the heart to tell her I was a pathetic expat Mzungu who was intimidated by a poxy 3" lizard!  I was mildly reassured about my have love/hate relationship with lizards though as Angela in our office told me a lizard dropped on Musonda, a guy in our office, the other week and he jumped around like a girl in distress....see its not just me who hates them :) I swear if one dropped on me you'd hear the screams in the UK let alone Lusaka!  Apparently (according to the gospel that is Angela!) if a lizard goes to touch you it means you're pregnant so its a good job my sister isn't here as she's expecting her baby this week and she's hate a lizard on her skin.  Mind you, not sure if the theory is altogether accurate as Musonda doesn't look due to give birth any time soon.

The week continued with a slug incident.  Now, I am used to slugs in the UK as I normally find them on my garden path as I walk to and from home.  However, they have been known to come indoors.  My sister once found a load in her kitchen cupboards - I know, eugh!  This week I was a treated to a slug, on the ceiling, above my cooker.  Since I enjoy a nice bowl of porridge in the morning and I didn't want an added slug relish, I decided to attempt to remove it from the ceiling with a long stick and a bowl - the bowl, ideally to catch it, so it wouldn't land in my porridge, or on me.  Well, all was going well, I had flicked the slug from the ceiling and into the bowl in my hand, until the slug began to move in the bowl.  I physically flinched and dropped the bowl containing the slug.  The bowl smashed and sent crockery pieces all over the kitchen floor and my slug made to escape.  Needless to say I was having none of that and promptly scooped it up, stuck it in the loo with a load of bleach and flushed it away.  I thought that was the end of it but no, the blighter returned (or at least its identical twin did) on my door padlock the next morning.  As you can imagine I'd had quite enough of it by this time and proceeded to flick it off the door and out of the door where I promptly covered it with a brick.  Haven't seen it since so hopefully its got the message!

Next up were the ants.  I'd happily gone to bed on Thursday evening and was reading my book however I got thirsty and got up to find a drink.  On the way out of the bedroom I noticed a collection of ants, maybe around 40) moving up the wall towards the corner of the blinds above my clothes cupboard.  It seemed quite odd as, whilst I often see ants, I'd never seen that many in my bedroom.  So, I proceeded to open the blinds - what a horror awaited me.  A fly or insect had died on the corner of one of the burglar bars on my windows and thousands (that's not an exaggeration) had come to munch it for dinner.  It made my skin crawl so I set about working how to sort out the situation.  Needless to say since it was gone 9pm, the light wasn't great and I wasn't wearing alot of clothes!  Anyway, I found my DEET spray and squirted that in the vicinity of the ants and that seemed to stun them nicely.  I then got a bucket of soapy water and sponge and started washing them away.  Their dead carcases started to drop onto the floor / my clothes cupboard so not only was I washing the windows, I had to do the floor and cupboard too.  It took about 30mins to do but eventually they were extracted from the scene.  So, even if the DEET seems largely ineffective at stopping mosquitos it wasn't wasted luggage as it makes a damn fine ant killer.

So, as you can see, this week I have rather had my fill of tropical animals.  One could almost call it my Africa initiation week.  Thankfully I survived but I hope not to have all those incidents in one week again.


  1. We think you need a very aggressive (to visitors) pet reptile which you train to sleep at the foot of your bed. This would be a fairly 'green' solution as it would eat the various pests and dispose of them in an environmentally friendly way. This scheme has the added advantage of giving you a hobby and a companion all in one move !!

  2. What a fantastic idea! Now all I need to find is such a thing. The pastor has a dog called Slippers which runs around and barks alot so I think that scares off some of the other scary things. Maybe I should invite it to live with me in the cottage......hhmmmmmm good plan batman

  3. Have you read Gerald Durrell's book, My Family and Other Animals? We saw plenty of his 'animals' when we walked the Corfu Trail this summer. Even some fast moving snakes, but I think they were more scared of us than we were of them. Maybe your animal visitors are simnilarly inclined!
    Perhaps you could write something sismilar about your animal family? I am sure it would make good reading.