Creeping Crawling Wildlife of Tanzania

Quick. Name an animal in Tanzania.

“Lion…uh…hippo…uh…rhino….elephant!”

Yep, those are all here.

But they’re not in this post.

The stars today are the “icky”, the scaly, the smooth, the winged, the colorful, and the lovely.

Hope you like creeping, crawly wildlife. I got a lot for you today.

***

Before I arrived to East Africa, I was like most people when considering animals in this part of the world. How can you not have the popular safari animals pop into your head? I’ve been seeing them on TV since watching “Nature” on PBS from my mother’s lap.

However, my time in Tanzania so far has been an eye-enlarging exposure to a whole new live encyclopedia of smaller creatures.

The pinchers are on its rear. I’m not familiar with the advantages of fighting with your butt.

And I don’t know how this one got inside our housing. It wasn’t some tiny ant fitting through a crack in the concrete. This thing was almost as big around as a golf ball. As hard as one, too. And strong. When I picked it up by its sides, it had the leg muscle to knee up and pry my fingers from its shell. It fell a few feet to the floor, but no matter. It just started walking away.

On my very first night in my new room, I readied for my first night’s sleep in my new home across the world.

Then I saw this eight-legger chilling between the wall and ceiling:

It didn’t move a muscle and was so flat I wondered if someone already squished it. But I wasn’t taking any chances and, so early in my stay, even wondered about its toxicity. So I grabbed a shoe, approached slowly, and WHAM!

Though I hardly adjusted its already-flattened shape, I did manage to kill it.

Sleep tight, Brandon.

Here is some footage of the above bugs:

To finish up with insects,  how about we take a look at some less startling ones?

***

It isn’t all buggy here. Here are some Tanzanimals, reptile-style: 

So common around these parts is the first lizard pictured that it shows up twice in this segment:

Right outside my window

On day within a week or two of my arrival, my colleague Leah and I went for a walk. She looked down on the dirt path after only 100 yards and said, “Hey!”

Hey, indeed. Finding this exotic creature was the highlight of my week:

From reptile to amphibian, it was a rainy night in March. I was teaching computers, and outside the lab–visible when anyone opened the door–were countless flying dragon fly-like creatures. We made sure to shut the door, but even the in and out of students between class was enough to fill the room with a dozen or more.

By having them in class–quite an addition when trying to teach typing–I was able to witness this seasonal stage in this species’s life. And while they entered via flight, they soon were all walking wingless on the floor. Later, another teacher would tell me that they bury themselves in the ground. Good luck with that on the concrete floor of the lab.

An annoyance for us, this wing-losing life stage is manna from heaven for predators. As I was walking back from class at 9:30 pm in the drizzle, I saw a hopping animal I hadn’t seen yet in Africa: a frog (or toad). I watched it escape under the pool of dim yard light into some nearby bushes by a building.

Then I found another near it. Oh joy! Two palm-sized frogs to play with. This may have been my reaction as a boy–and inner-boy Brandon still felt the rush of the discovery. But a picture with them would content me this evening.

I let them go into the dark and drizzle. I’m sure they had some bug hunting to do.

Apparently, so did ants.

And I unfortunately discovered just seconds after releasing the frogs, that ants’ hunting drive came right through the spaces in our compound gate. In impressive numbers, they ran all along the outdoor wall.

They bunched up here as a ladder and in an effort to haul down their catch.

See the light brown/yellow spots in the top chuck of that ant glob ladder? Those are the now-wingless, now-ant dinner bugs. The ants followed this wall to the left all the way to Leah’s door, prompting her to freak out.

“Ahhhh!!! What?!!!”

The vegan now wanted to kill animals. She valiantly tried but failed to completely deter their approach through her door. So she shoved a blanket under her door, grabbed a pillow and another blanket, and slept in the spare room next to mine across the open, outdoor area and away from the interest of the ants this night.

I woke up the next morning, and walking outside I saw that the ants didn’t just slow to a trickle. There were none. Zero. The only signs that they were here at all the night before were detached wings of the poor bugs they drug away for food:

…and a few ant carcasses still in Leah’s broom weapon from the night before.

If you want to see more about ants, see this post of mine from six weeks back really homing in with photo and video of how these six-legged monsters thrive here at the school. Similarly, if you want to see bees up close, check out this post where put my camera in a beehive.

Now let’s end this post on some more familiar–though no less interesting–feathered and furry creatures.

First, the crows here are the same as they are in Minnesota. But these crow cousins sport an added fashion accessory.

A white vest

And we end on a safari creature after all. At the guesthouse I stay at each weekend in Iringa, these animals come around at dawn to monkey around a little.

On a neighbor’s rooftop

I hope you enjoyed the East African wildlife rundown. Please comment your thoughts/questions and share with others.

til next week,

from Tanzania,

-Brandon

 

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5 Responses to “Creeping Crawling Wildlife of Tanzania”

  1. bobd says:

    Quite the show. Thanks for the tour of tanzanimals!

  2. Maggie Ferdig says:

    A kid friendly post!! I like it!!

  3. Bev Klein says:

    Hi Brandon
    Guess I haven’t left any replys lately, but I have been reading and enjoying all of your posts. Good job!!
    I would never survive there. I can’t stand little creatures. I see a snake and I think my heart stops for a moment.
    A belated Happy Birthday wish to you.

  4. Linda Becker says:

    We were there in 2000 for the “periodic” swarming of the locusts. I forgot how frequently they migrate, but it was an awesome event — overwhelming, but awesome. Hope you get to add this to your documentary. Your pictures are amazing!!

  5. Krystal says:

    Ha. Glad you’re having fun

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