Frightening Examples from the Animal Kingdom: Albuquerque Edition

6:33 PM

By Rudolfo Carrillo

I had a boatload of clicks on the ticker to kill this weekend, so I spent part of those languid hours watching a teevee show my partner Samantha suggested for me.

The program she recommended is called National Geographic's Deadly Dozen and in case you are interested, it is about the eldritch collection of human-death-inducing creatures that hauntingly roam the planet earth in search of bipedal primates with which to negatively interact.

We watched a couple of episodes; one of them was about South America.

I’ve been to the Amazon Jungle before, so I kept waiting for the narrator to talk about the dreaded Candiru fish. That’s the tiny river denizen that follows the urine streams of warm blooded creatures who swim in the river and its tributaries. The Candiru fish does its dirty deed so it can swim up into the host’s bladder for food gathering and reproductive purposes.

Instead of waxing swimmingly on those possibilities though, the folks at National Geographic were content to plumb darker waters. They dramatized an anaconda attack on an unsuspecting fisherman ( it can be further imagined that the dude never got out of his boat for fear of the dreaded Candiru fish) who nearly lost his leg in the process. Lots of ketchup was lost in the filming of that episode, I'm sad to report.

They also had a segment on huge tarantulas, with lots of scary close-ups. All the hairy mandibles and carapaces made me wonder if the cinematographer had graduated to this project due to his continued success in the porn industry.

And I'll be damned if all of this got me to thinking about Burque's equivalent; you know the rottenest and most damned animals of the Middle Rio Grande Valley, or something like that. After entering a state of disturbed and twitchy meditation, I finally came up with my own list. It went something like this:

  • The Western Diamondback Rattler: In the thirty-five years I've lived in Burque, I've only seen three in their natural environment. I nearly stepped on one in 1988, while trippingly hiking through Embudito Canyon. As it passed between my clumsy hiking boots, it hissed and flicked its tongue at me.
  • The Black Widow Spider: I generally declare war on this species every summer, and have come up with a book-length treatise on bellicose activities designed to shorten their individual life spans. Last night, SAS spotted one living in a roll of carpet I have stored out on the carport. I'm giving that arachnid twenty-four hours to abandon its post, elsewise it's an oily Armageddon that awaits.
  • The Scorpion: As far as I can tell, these critters are rare in town but dwell with some impunity and in significant numbers on the western mesas. The only reason I'd want to even see one of these scary little animals has to do with the simple fact that they fluoresce under black light. I suppose that could be really groovy if one had a glass jar in which to keep them. Okay, maybe not.
  • The Desert Centipede: When I was a child my aunt Annie told me that these poisonous arthropods crawled under the skin, that the only way to remove them after such a disastrous interaction involved the use of a hot iron. I'm just glad I've never had to find out. I found one hanging around the toilet the other day and let it crawl up a pencil I had layed out nearby (never know when the writing bug will strike, ha ha). I flicked it into the porcelain moat and flushed mightily.
  • The Coyote: I used to hike up around Supper Rock a lot. In the summer, at twilight, I'd hear whole packs of them whooping it up and waiting for dark, so that they could creep on down to the placid subdivisions below, for meals of fresh garbage, roaming kitty cats and the odd chihuahua. One time my old dog Arnold surprised a big male on the trail, it was hiding behind a scrub oak. They battled it out pretty fierce, but in the end Arnold sent his mangy cousin howling back up into the hills, forlorn and bloody.

Blogger's note: That banner at the top of this post is a photo of a vinegaroon, a type of arachnid common in the wilderness areas surrounding our fine burg. They are ugly as hell and smell bad, but are totally harmless.

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