I can’t leave the Scotland section without mentioning the street signs… Aside from the fact that when we went to Skye all the street signs turned to Gaelic, they had a whole slew of other street signs that were quite interesting…
There were the usual ones that we are all familiar with: Beware of deer, or Beware of Elk/Moose or even Bear or Cougar (if you are from Florida:))
But since Scotland has literally gotten rid of any and all potentially dangerous animals in the Country (no bears, no wolves, literally nothing that could eat or be a predator to humans) they had to pad out their street signs a bit to extend beyond the boring ol’ “Beware of Deer” sign…
So they extended to:
“Beware of Sheep” (ok, I get that since there are a ton there)
“Beware of Hairy Coos” (these aren’t as common as sheep, but could still be dangerous if challenged)
“Beware of Squirrels” (??? Really??? Are there that many around that we should be that cautious of them? It would be terrible to hit one but it wouldn’t be quite as dangerous as hitting a sheep or hairy coo…)
“Beware Families” (I get this one is designed to get people to slow down, fair enough!)
But my personal favorite of all of them:
“Beware Old People!!!!” I just had to find one on the internet to include for you!! Totally cracked me up every time!! I love the detail of it too, how the old man has a walking stick and both are hunched over… LOL!!!! Loved it!!!
Ok, here we go… There were pit vipers that were hanging out around the base of the trees, which we were told was a rather lucky sight as they are ususally much higher up during the time of year I was there. There were tarantulas; one female that was nestled in her burrow on the side of a little hill whom the tour guide tried to coax out with a stick (I had to use extra zoom to get a close-up picture without actually getting in close, hence why the photo is a little fuzzy) and one male who walked across my path and decided to halt directly in front of me!! Now, of course I didn’t want to make a fool of myself in front of everyone else because of my fear but then again I was so paralyzed that I couldn’t actually move. Luckily one of the other girls on my tour stopped with me to lend some moral support even though she too was terrified of the critter. Even more lucky was that another tour guide and group was coming by so the guide wedged the tarantula between his feet (not actually touching it but rather providing a barrier between it and me) allowing me to make a literal run for it!
Now one thing I did learn about tarantulas that made me feel quite sorry for the little buggers had to do with their worst predator… No, not humans in this case but rather wasps!! Wasps apparently will land on the back of a tarantula and inject it with a tranquilizer of sorts thus paralyzing the arachnid but not killing it. The wasp will then lay eggs on the back of the tarantula and as the eggs hatch, the newborn wasps will feed off the tarantula, eventually killing it after 8 whole days!! Being eaten alive… now that’s just NO way for any creature to have to die!! Poor little buggers!!
Moving on however, another spectacular sight was the mama sloth and her baby! The mother looked absolutely HUGE but apparently only weighed like 20lbs!! These sloths (2-toed) are all fur and have the look of being humongous but really aren’t. Her baby was really hard to see as unlike its mom, the baby was a dark brown color that blended in perfectly with the dark night. What really suprised me the most about this pair however was how active the mom and baby were! Sloths are named as such because of their slow movement and the fact that they sleep a lot. But apparently at night they do become more active as we saw as there was a ton of grooming and movement, especially by the baby!
The tour guides were amazing and were able to spot the tinniest of critters from great distances!! One such example was spotting a foot long walking stick!! We were all huddled looking at this dense forest and the guide kept going “look, there is a giant walking stick”… We were like “where?!?!?!” It blended in perfectly with the tree it was on and was only about 4 feet in front of us, yet it took a good 10 minutes for everyone on the tour to actually see what the rest were looking at!! Quite impressive!
Another area we visited was the nest of a colony of army ants. We were not able to walk on certain areas as putting too much weight on the ground had the potential for collapsing the Earth under us, plunging us into the depths of a million angry ants!! If I recall my stats correctly, scientists have estimated about 2 billion ants in this one colony alone!! What was most impressive about this spot was when the tour guide went to catch a soldier ant. These ants guard the entrances to the nest and are the most fierce of all. He picked it up by the body making sure to have a good grip on its head so it couldn’t bite him. Then he picked up a stick that was about 4 feet long… He put the tip of the stick to the pinchers of the soldier ant and it immediately clasped on! The ant was so strong and had such a good grip that it was able to hold on to the stick entirely on its own!! Even more interesting, the ants were used by Indigenous people as stitches! If someone got a cut that needed stiches, they would use soldier ants by making them bite on their skin to bring each side of the wound together and then they would pinch off the heads. The head of the ant would not fall off for 8 days!! Once they did fall off the wound was healed! Quite impressive of the indigenous tribes!! But also quite painful!
Perhaps the most interesting of all the things we saw on this tour was what we couldn’t see with out lights on… The tour guide picked up an old moldy piece of wood and stared at it with awe and fascination. He said it was the most beautiful part of the forest! We were all confused and wondered why an old piece of wood was so interesting, until we turned our lights off… Right before our eyes the wood began to glow!! It was covered in rare bioluminescent algae!!! We all stared in wonder and as we began to look around us in the dark, you could see all of the forest lit up in different areas by this spectacular algae! We also spent part of our time chasing after a rare cat who, like most nocturnal critters, hunts at night but is very fast and therefore hard to see! Even though we didn’t get to see it ultimately, the chase was rather fun!
Now for each tour it is never guarenteed of course that you will see a large diversity of animals, but again I would definately recommend it!