Beach Rats & Mourning Doves

Beach rat

Beach rat

I spent most of the morning under the awning or inside surfing and cleaning the trailer trying to  hide from the sun.  I didn’t want my bad sunburn to get any worse.

Another view of the beach rat

Another view of the beach rat

By afternoon I couldn’t stand the inactivity any longer, so took off on the trail toward the Fort.  That part of the island is a lot prettier than the nature walk area, I think.  Also, I didn’t want to leave without seeing the beach on the Bay side.

I was underwhelmed with the Bay after seeing the spectacular turquoise Gulf.  There was a big oil slick (at least I think that’s what it was) that made the water look dirty.  So I didn’t stay there long.

Pensacola Bay from the picnic area

Pensacola Bay from the picnic area

On the trail I met a guy who was just finishing up a hike of the entire Florida Trail.  I was thrilled at his accomplishment, but I can’t say I didn’t feel a twinge of envy.  🙂

When I got back from my walk, I settled down in the shade and started working a crossword.  I looked up and saw two mourning doves strolling through our campsite.  After I had gotten several photos, I glimpsed something dark out of the corner of my eye.   When I turned to look,  I saw FOUR rat-like creatures just a few feet behind my chair.  I was too curious to be afraid.

Mourning dove

Mourning dove

Three of the rats disappeared into the underbrush, but one busied himself eating leaves a few feet from my chair.  Then the doves ambled over toward the same area.   They got within two or three feet of the rat, totally ignoring him… and the rat ignored them right back.

I wasn’t sure if they were really rats or not, so I showed a couple walking past our site the header photo and asked them if they knew what it was.  The guy said, “I think it’s a rat.”  Other campers had told us that since the rain the other day the rats had come out in force.  So Ron walked over to the camp host’s site and asked him what they were.

Another dove photo

Another dove photo

He said, “They’re beach rats.  They won’t bother you if you don’t bother them.  But if you mess with them, they will bite.”

The armadillos are so brave, they will venture within a few feet of Sheba, and only run away when she starts barking at them.  None of the animals here show any fear at all.

I ended up cooking chicken tenders this evening.  Sorry, Wayne… we’ll have to catch Jo Patties next time!

Pair of doves

Pair of doves

We leave tomorrow for parts unknown.  Friday is a bad time to leave without reservations, but we’re not sure how far we’ll feel like going, so we’ll find someplace to stay.  If all else fails, there is always Walmart.  🙂

Rat and doves together

Rat and doves together

One of the ever-present armadillos rooting for food

One of the ever-present armadillos rooting for food

The Dark Side of Armadillos

Photo from Wikipedia

Armadillo – Photo from Wikipedia

Since we are home and out of camping mode for a while, I had decided I probably wouldn’t do another post for a while.  But a fellow blogger gave me an idea for one today.

I have been following the Turn When the Road Does blog.  He posted a photo of a resident armadillo at his campsite at Ft. Pickens.

I posted a lighthearted comment advising him not to go fixin’ any armadillo stew because armadillos can carry leprosy.

Several years ago I had read that armadillos were susceptible to leprosy, could be carriers, and that researchers were using them to study the disease.

Since it was news to him, I did a web search and found this CNN article written in 2011.  It states that up to 15% of our southern armadillos may carry leprosy, and it is transferable to humans.  Here are a couple of quotes from the article:

The armadillo population in the U.S. has been estimated at 30 to 50 million, and studies suggest that, in some places, up to 15 percent have leprosy.

For now the infected animals are concentrated in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama, but the armadillo population appears to be spreading north and east and could bring leprosy with it.

….

He urges his patients not to touch, handle, or eat the animals, and to steer clear of souvenirs made from armadillo carcasses, which are popular in Texas. The new study should help raise awareness, he says.

When he tells his patients that armadillos cause leprosy, he explains, “They kind of look at me like I’m crazy.”

Although armadillos are generally not aggressive and will run from anything that frightens them, I did run into a group of them that I felt threatened by a few years back when I was hiking on Cheaha Mountain in Alabama.  Several of them were in the trail ahead of me in a semicircle chattering excitedly at me.  I stomped my feet and yelled at them and they scattered.

So I am not afraid of armadillos, but I also make it a point to keep a safe distance from them.

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