Sunday, October 18, 2009

It's a good thing I'm not easily freaked out.


I was ripping apart the rotting plywood that covers one of the walls along the edge of our yard. The wood was coming apart like brittle paper, and I was wearing long suede gauntlets, to protect my skin, and keep the spiders at bay. (And whoo boy, were there a lot of spiders!)

As I pulled the plywood away I started seeing what I though were worms, squirming around.

Then I noticed...

the worms had eyes.

I grabbed one, and ran into the house, yelling for Robb to get me some sort of dish. The slimy slithery creature was writhing all over my glove, and I was afraid I would drop it, before I got a photograph.

This, my friends, is a California Slender Salamander. I know this is a crappy photograph, but will you look at those teeny-tiny toes?

Over the course of the afternoon, I relocated ten or eleven of these strange little creatures. I was worried that they would get crushed under the demolition, so I moved them to a new home in our moss-encrusted wood pile.

That's the thing about having a house whose back yard is filled with decaying lumber. There's plenty to look at. Anyone know anything about mushrooms?

Oh how cool is this? My friend Ken-Ichi tells me that this is probably a slime mold, known commonly at wolf's milk or toothpaste slime.


slowe said...

I found one of those salamanders once...after it had Passed.

I took it to work and got a jewelry buddy to cast it in silver. Not a totally successful casting, but you could see the toes.

Anonymous said...

Anyone want to join me in agreeing that we have one very unique and amazing friend in Lisa?


Gabrielle said...

i love this!!!!

Anonymous said...

Those things look like piglet testicles to me!

Either way, please don't eat them- nor the salamanders... jeeze, even MORE critters to get xmas gifts for this year!


LunaSea said...

Awww... what an adorable little guy you found! And I think he's one of the 'safe' ones. Here's my story: For years, I worked at a lavender farm in Pescadero. For almost two months of the year, during their mating season, the California Newts would go roaming. Many of them cruised across a small, one lane road on my drive to work, where hundreds of them would meet their doom under car tires. I hated this, so whenever I was driving and spotted one of them on the road, I'd stop, jump out, grab it and deposit him in a bowl I kept on my front seat for just that purpose. I'd average about five a day... hundreds over the years. At the end of the road, I'd stop and walk the bowl down an embankment to a nice little spot away from danger to set the little guys free.
So, about six months ago, I learned that the little guys I had been handling so nonchalantly are toxic. From their skin, the secrete the same tetrodotoxin that is found in pufferfish. Lethal in very small amounts:

My desire to save the little creatures (yet again) almost got me killed. I don't expect I'll ever learn though.

MommaWriter said...

We've got those salamanders in our yard. I thought they were worms the first time I saw them too! They're very cool.


. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

LunaSea -- I love your story SO MUCH!

It really sounds like something that I would do.

Save the 'manders! And don't worry about that pesky skin-absorbed poison...

Anonymous said...

Newts don't poison people who help them.

They told me so, right before I would lick them.


Martha said...

It's kind of cute in a really icky way. I thought you were going to say it was a baby snake. I didn't notice the feet at first.



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