Saturday, April 13, 2013

Road kill catalog

Any daily activity gives you the opportunity to carefully examine the minutiae of your surroundings and so it is with the daily morning walk I take with Jack, my dog. A fine connoisseur of coyote pooh, dried turds, and piss-glazed garbage bins, Jack takes his time exploring our rural road. And I tend to focus on its asphalt surface, as a precaution against road hazards in this dog-infested neighborhood.

Jerusalem cricket, from Wikipedia
 So I’ve noticed the annual cycle of small road-kills that appear on the blacktop with some regularity. There’s an astonishing bug that appears, a grotesque creature like a miniaturized human baby, a chitin-armored fetus, its round infant head larger than its claw-limbed body. Pale fleshy gold in color, its appearance made me recoil in horror the first time I saw it, but now I appreciate it. It’s a Stenopelmatus fuscus, or Jerusalem cricket.

Our small local lizards end up smashed on the road too frequently. For some reason, they always appear belly up, curled in a kind of ecstatic agony, something akin to Jack’s own luxurious belly-up defenseless sleep.

Lizard safe on my windowsill
 I don't know how it is the lizards end up smashed on the road, because everytime I see a live one, stock still in the sun, my tiniest movement makes him dart away in a streak. Have they swooned belly up, lolling on the sun-hot asphalt, only to be taken unaware by a car tire?

By the time I see them they’re usually flattened husks dessicated like a cut-out from duct tape, but once I came upon one freshly smashed, its silvery belly like supple leather, its jaws oozing a deep dark red blood as flushed with oxygen as yours or mine. I hadn’t thought before that lizards would bleed red.


Gilly said...

Eeeeow! Not a post to read just after breakfast!

But trust dogs to smell out all the revolting bits!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

The deer generally do not let people get close around here (unless they're golf course deer)...but they have no problem running right in front of the car, like they did last night.

smalltownme said...

That's quite a bug.

M. Bouffant said...

I'd guess the lizards may dart under the wheels on the other side (or end) of the car. Or just may not be as aware of cars as they're aware of avian/human menaces above them.

Not really a post to read while having those first cups of coffee, either (not that the title wasn't fair warning).

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Aunt Snow, I've seen one of those Jerusalem crickets in action, battling and winning against a lizard! That will have to be one of my vacation posts. I'll link back here to this post, since you have a lovely photo from Wikipedia -- and as proof that someone might be interested in such a curious creature!