hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Monday, October 31, 2011

Local Dangers

Yesterday, Ed was out for a walk and as he came back home, he ran into a small critter that appeared to be just resting in the middle of the street where a vehicle could easily run over it.  He picked it up, brought it home, and we both inspected it.  That's him (or her) in the picture below.  Maybe 3-4 inches, brown nubbly skin on top and gorgeous orange skin on the underside.

We poked and prodded a bit, trying to get him to turn over so we could inspect the soft, moist orange side.  He/she was not cooperative.  I checked out 'salamander images' and found the critter pretty quickly.  Turns out, it's one of the most toxic wild animals in the world:

"The rough-skin newt (Taricha granulosa) is one of the most toxic animals known to science. One case involved a 29-year-old man who had been drinking heavily and swallowed a newt on a dare in Coos Bay, Oregon. Within 10 minutes, he complained of tingling in the lips. During the next two hours he complained of numbness and weakness and then experienced cardiopulmonary arrest. He died later during the day (despite hospital treatment). In another case, toxin from a Taricha entered a puncture wound on a scientist's index finger, and he suffered 30 minutes of numbness up the arm into the shoulder, and some accompanying nausea and light-headedness.  It can emit, from its skin, a milky fluid that contains a neurotoxin that is fatal to larger animals including people. " Source here.

It seems quite amazing that we would never have heard of a local creature with such toxicity.  It's said to be quite docile and exudes its poison only if you irritate it sufficiently.  I guess we weren't irritating enough in our attempts to turn him over.  At least, we are both still alive 30 hours later.  But best not to mess much with newts with orange undersides.

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