Friday, May 27, 2005

"Critters"

There are many differences between life in my hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska (USA) and where I'm living now, Penang, Malaysia. However, I'm not going over all those differences and sources of diversity, no I'm not.

What I wanted to mention was how many critters there are here in Malaysia that seem to be able to clandestinely work their way into your house. And most of these critters, you don't want in your house!

While living in Lincoln, I can't honestly say anything interesting ever made its way into any of the houses I ever lived.

Malaysia is a different story altogether!
Just today, we had an unexpected visit from one of our neighborly Monitor Lizards - that's right - Monitor Lizard!

First, however, before I get to the monitor lizard episode, please allow me to mention a little back-story...

We have three cats, two Tortie Whites and one Malaysian Hook-tail. There is a type of cat here in Malaysia that has a bony hook on the tip of its short tail. We have coined the phrase Hook-tail to describe this feline breed.

Our cats love chasing things, especially roaches, flies, gecko lizards, birds, toads, snakes and the occasional monitor lizard that finds a way to get into the house. Just so you don't think all these things fly, crawl or slither into our house all at the same time - I'll assure you they don't. I would go MAD! And, I can guarantee - no one would ever visit us if that was the case. Usually, we get a SINGLE VISITOR at a time, Thank God!!!

Late this afternoon, I had heard a scratchy noise on the front door's grille-work and I thought our youngest cat, Aminah Bee, was chasing a fly or something and making the noise.

No sooner than I had dismissed the noise, I saw this dark green head with slithering tongue, pop out from around the corner of the front door. At first it kind of freaked me out - it's not everyday you get a modern day dinosaur visiting you inside your home.

Aminah was right there when he entered the house. Cat and Monitor - nose-to-nose.

The lizard froze in its tracks and our cat froze too, I guess she was waiting for it to make a foolish move. Usually her game is much smaller than this 1 and a half foot lizard. I'm not sure she knew what to do with it. But in comparison to adult monitor lizards, this was small, just a baby. I've seen some monitors that are 5 or 6 feet long and probably weigh 50-70 pounds (I'm guessing).

Mostly, I was concerned if our cat got clawed by the lizard as monitors have really long and sharp claws. If possible, a monitor will avoid contact with anything bigger than itself - they are quite intelligent creatures.

And of course, I didn't want my cats to hurt the monitor. This particular species is the Malaysian Water Monitor (
Family Varanidae, Suborder Sauria, Order Squamata.) The juvenile monitor is much more colorful than the adults, as was this one. It was a dark green and black color with specks of yellow.

What happened next really surprised me: my cat suddenly lost interest in the monitor and went after the big gecko lizard that I believe the monitor lizard had followed into the house.

When Aminah changed gears and took aim at the gecko, the monitor darted under a piece of furniture to hide. I guess she figured it was more exciting to go after the gecko.

But, that still left us with a problem, the monitor was still in the house and the cat had lost interest. Our cats are not a lot of help sometimes as they get side-tracked and obsessed with things that are less important than what needs prompt attention, like the monitor!

So, we opened the front windows and ended up moving the furniture enough to force the monitor out from under it, and as smart as he was, he knew he could escape out the opened window, and he did.

Talk about a real zoo around here sometimes.

I'm still waiting for a giant 2-meter long monitor to come make our front lawn it's home - we all better run for our lives if that happens. But, knowing monitors, it would probably run first, as they are a bit on the chicken-side!




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