Sapos, Snakes and Things that Gnaw in the Night


I recently heard about the danger of toads (sapos) to dogs here. We lived through a whole rainy season up on a ten acre farm, without a sapo incident, but since we moved here our new friends have shared their personal experiences with us, and it’s frightening! If a dog takes a sapo in their mouth, or just licks it, a hallucinogenic substance on their skin is dog poison. The dog will quickly go into convulsions, lose muscle control, and will die in short order without getting help. The dog needs to be given egg whites with milk to counteract the poison and save their life. I understand that there is something that you can get a the local pharmacies also, but knowing we have the antidote here at the house is comforting. I explained the danger to the kids, and what to do if they see our dogs messing with a toad. We all cracked and separated an egg and I showed them where medicine syringe was. Sure enough, the next afternoon, they saw our dog pawing at a sapo outside their bedroom window. I ran out in the pouring rain to chase it out of the yard, and we kept an eye on our pup for a while. Fortunately, he was fine. The poison presents as a is also a hallucinogen, and if the dog survives, they are apparently drawn to sapos in the future, this according to the locals here…

Our home in located in a valley, so the water table is just below the surface of the ground. Our landlord said we would get “large worms” coming up near the pool and finding their way into it during the rainy season. Now, I can put a worm on a hook for fishing without wincing, but if a worm is upwards of five inches long, and thick as your index finger…that’s a snake, not a worm! I do not do snakes, can’t even watch them on tv, deathly afraid!!! I have only seen a couple large slugs in the pool so far, much to my relief!

When we moved here, we bought whatever furniture and appliances we needed, but at the time, a nice bed was not in the budget. We bought a mattress, cement blocks and a piece of plywood, just like college days. A couple of days ago, it was two o’clock in the morning, and I awoke to a loud gnawing on the plywood directly below me. It was so vigorous, I could feel every scrape of the vermin’s teeth. It had to be “rat sized” given what I was experiencing! I woke my husband who mumbled something somewhat reassuring and fell back asleep. So, hoping the vermin would resist the urge to come traipsing up on the covers, I scooted over onto my husbands side and attached myself to him so as to survive the rest of the night. The next day my husband caught the intruder, and of course he was one of those itty-bitty little mice that look like a dollop of whipped cream, have a British accent and wear red velvet boots. We are surrounded by sugar cane fields and now that the rains have begun the number of these charming interlopers has increased in our casa. As I have often said about my children, “Good thing they’re cute!”

We had about nine days not long ago, that have subsequently helped relieve me of my overwhelming fear of snakes. Our small home sits on property surrounded by sugarcane fields and one afternoon, my young son ran breathlessly rushing into the house with instructions from my husband,, “Stay in the house Mom and don’t let our small dog out!” It turned out, there was a 7 ft. boa approximately 5-6″ in. in diameter making its’ way across our yard! With the help of neighbors that boa was eventually wrangled into a canvas bag, and because of it’s size and girth, it was delivered to a local serpentarium. Unfortunately, that was not the end of our snake visitors. During the next eight days, we had another five boas make their way into our yard, many when my husband wasn’t home, so I had the local firefighters (bomberos) number and they kindly came out and wrangled them into a bag and out of our yard. I learned that boas can leap up into trees, I’m talking 5+ feet snakes! It was a traumatic week, but it did ultimately help me be less overwhelmed when I now see snakes.Everyday’s an adventure!

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