Monday, December 08, 2008

Wild California

San Jose, CA is the 10th largest city in the US with a million people. The entire Bay Area counts about seven million people. So you would think this must be a pretty densily populated area. And it sort of is. However, every so often you learn that you aren't that far from the real California wilderness. I am not talking about the annual trip to Yosemite where the late night chores include franticly cleaning up the campsite to avoid attracking the wild bears in the valley.  Right here in my backyard, you find a lot of unexpected wild life. 

Last night in the dark, as I gathered the clothes from the clothesline, I ran into our yard marsupial: our cute opossum. The first time I ran into it I didn't know what to think: it looks like a rat, with a long tail, but it is much bigger. I called everyone inside and locked the door as it calmly walked the back fence and right into our garden-shack. Animal controlled told me on the phone, not to be concerned. They won't harm you. Just leave them alone. They are an omnivore, so don't leave food or trash outside. We don't, although we do have fruit from our fruit trees falling onto the floor. 

This morning I ran into what looked like a dead raccoon in the street. (My wife thought it could have been an oppossum. Let's just hope it is not my back yard friend.) Right next it, I saw a bird I typically see in the zoo. It looked like straight out of a comic strip of Lucky Luke. I looked it up: it was a turkey vulture. These are some bug ugly birds and always right where death looms. 
Other famous visitor I ran into is the black widow. I was cleaning up the yard and touched a spiderweb and it attacked my shovel with great speed. The red hourglass shaped markings on this shiny, inky black spider were unmistakenly. Luckily it didn't come close to me. Here's the answer to a commonly asked question: 

How dangerous are black widow spider bites? If a black widow spider bites a person, do not panic! No one in the United States has died from a black widow spider bite in over 10 years. Very often the black widow will not inject any venom into the bite and no serious symptoms develop. Wash the wound well with soap and water to help prevent infection.

If muscle cramps develop, take the patient to the nearest hospital. Some victims, especially young children, may be admitted overnight for observation and treatment. There is treatment for a black widow spider bite that can take care of the symptoms. Various medications are used to treat the muscle cramps, spasms and pain of a bite. Black widow spider antivenin is seldom necessary.

Garden snakes are around although we have not run into any around the house. Tarantulla's and rattle snakes aren't very far way. When I learned of an email at my wife's work alerted them of a mountain lion near their offices in Mountain View, you are reminded that this isn't cow country but that it is still wild California. 

No comments: