chupacabras and/or velociraptors

Last night I found myself, as I so often am, looking at stats for various invasive animals. (Animals being a ‘thing’ of mine.) Earlier last night I was at a rally, but this isn’t about that. I was telling my Canadian friend, who is of the prairie and not the subtropics, about the Nile monitor problem and looking at interesting maps that told me a good-sized one had been captured at a Very Busy Intersection which I pass through quite frequently, on the way to see a friend and a therapist.

I suspect that the map is not entirely accurate and that bit was put in as a sort of placeholder because, as I told Badger — If a monitor lizard can cross six lanes of traffic on SR60 on Friday at five in the afternoon, it has bloody well earned a toehold in this ecosystem.

I went to bed with visions of macaques and giant lizards bouncing around in my head, and I didn’t stay there for long, because at seven twenty-two on a Saturday morning I got a panicked text from a friend who, of course, lives very near the Nile Monitor Intersection.

There was something in her bathroom. Her dog had been growling and grumbling at it all night; he’s a terrier with a fondness for small prey like frogs. She was in a panic.

I awoke, about ten minutes later, to a buzzy phone that wanted my attention, a message about Wildlife In The Loo, and a head still full of pythons and monitor lizards and eight foot gators in peoples’ kitchens. So I counseled calmness, which I know is easier said than done, and thought, laboriously, in my half-asleep-escaped-exotics mind.

If she can’t hear it scuffling around in there, I reasoned, whatever is in there is most likely small. That ruled out things like possums or raccoons or a neighbor’s cat. Snakes, rats or mice, various lizards, a bird perhaps: all of those were possible. Once I was done with this thinking, which took some time, I sent back a plan of attack: put on shoes and pants, get a broom, and go in just to see what’s in there. Then, if it’s a bitey thing (snake, rat, etc) get thick sleeves and gloves before you try to trap it.

This is better advice than I give myself; when my dog downs a possum on her evening bathroom break at oh dark hundred, I run out there barefoot in pajamas to pull her off the damn thing.

Suggestions were made on Facebook as to the nature of the monster, and I hypothesized: chupacabra? Velociraptor? Because, when you’re half awake and have escaped exotics on the mind, anything is possible.

My friend’s biggest fear, her room 101, is frogs. Which is really unfortunate, given that, you know, Florida. That is why she made it far enough into the bathroom to spot a pair of grey frog legs and then bolted in a panic.

A bit more awake at this point, I processed the variables – what I knew of her house and its environs – likely a tree frog, green or Cuban, or a cane toad. (Kill all the goddamn cane toads with a shovel, or a plank with nails stuck out the end.) What I sent back was this: If tree frog, no worry; if cane toad, swab down the floor before you let the dog in there, because if it glopped on the floor and he licked it off his paw, that could be dangerous. The part I didn’t mention was that I had no idea what frogs are grey and was vaguely wondering if it was in reality the back end of a rat or mouse with the tail tucked away.

But — no. This was not happening. She would not be having with a frog in her bathroom, dead or alive, and she certainly would not be removing it. Pest control people were called, and they said they would charge two hundred and fifty dollars (this is the price of a red-light-running ticket hand delivered by Tampa’s finest, mind) to scoop a dead frog out from behind her toilet. That was clearly not an option.

“If you weren’t twenty miles away I’d go get the damn thing for you,” I told her.

“I really wish you could!” she told me.

In the end, she got an acquaintance from her church to come and dispose of the thing; he went in armed with a bucket, and said what I probably would have said in that scenario: “THAT LITTLE THING?” Pictures were sent to me; it looked like a dead tree frog, so no worry, but likely she’ll pressure-wash the whole bathroom with bleach and napalm before setting foot in there again.

She sent a text, about half an hour ago: “I’m getting ready to take a shower in the FROG DEN!”

I did not say that I’d be delighted if tree frogs took up habitation in my bathtub. I do these things, you see, to keep the peace, because everyone’s Room 101 Fear is a thing you take seriously. Even if it’s two inches long. And cute. And chirps.