Friday, May 16, 2008

A bit about where we live.

I would like to give you a background of life here at Canaote. I write about our monkeys of course but there are other occupants of interest and I will start off with the some of the animals to be found in and around our compound.

Snakes bathroom picture.
Yes we do have snakes and some very nasty ones at that. Yes we do come across them quite often. On several occasions they have been found in the house. The one in our photograph is a particularly venomous person and was slithering about in David's bathroom. Yet in the 13 years we have been here I know of only one local case of snake bite. A lad in a nearby village put his hand in a rabbit hole and was bitten by a Mumpanare, a very poisonous snake. Time is the important factor in treating snake bite. This boy had been some distance from home and valuable time was lost in getting back to the village before the alarm was sounded. Fortunately I was nearby and got the boy to hospital in good time. Apart from the very severe shock, the boy recovered completely with no ill effect. The fact is that these snakes are not predators of humans. Their prey are small animals like rats, mice and frogs. They avoid humans where possible. A good heavy footfall will send them on their way. We theorize that they enter the house only in the rainy season. They like hot and dry and the house is sometimes the only dry place around.

Monkeys two pictures Capuchin (the grey monkey) Red Howler the brown monkey.

Regular readers will know that there are perhaps twenty families of Howler in the deep forest on the side of our small mountain. In a tree, only two hundred meters from our house, there is a group of forty Capuchins, young and old. The early morning call of the Howlers is deafening. At six in the morning you would need no alarm clock. Our pictures show two residence of our Center ‘Chilin’ a young Howler and Pancho the Capuchin.

Birds Two pictures. Colorful Macaw and green parrots.

This is Macaw country. The red, yellow and blue are the national colors of Venezuela. This particular coloration is greatly sought after and brings a high price, although there are several variations including green and blue. Their popularity has caused them to become rare. They are trapped for sale. When we first arrived in Venezuela we bought two birds a boy and a girl. At that time we did not appreciate their rarity in the wild. However we allowed them to fly freely without caging them. To cut a long story short. Finally the disappear only to reappear some three months later with two babies. This has become quite an event for us. Every few years they disappear and return with yet more young. There are now eight Macaws regularly feeding at out bird table. I am proud that we have seriously repopulated this area with Macaws. The Macaw is of course the Bird always on the shoulder of ‘shiver me timbers’ Long John Silver the pirate from Treasure Island. We call her ‘Pieces of Eight’. The little green parrot in our photograph is very intelligent. They talk and mimic in the most realistic way. This one is female and we call her Houdina after the great escapologist. She loves opening padlocks and any type of enclosure. ‘Laurel’ is the local name for this bird. I always think of them as flying monkeys because of their great intelligence.

Ocelot a small lion

Ocelot s can be found on our mountain and are the principal reason we no longer keep sheep. On one night alone we lost three adults and four baby sheep. I am afraid the Ocelot often kills for sport rather than just for food. The Ocelot's appearance is similar to that of the domestic cat. Its fur resembles that of a Leopard or Jaguar and was once regarded as particularly valuable. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Ocelots have been killed for their fur. The feline was classified a "vulnerable" endangered species from the 1980s until 1996, but is now generally considered "least concern.

Well I could go one because I have only just touched the animal population of this area. We will save some of the other animals for another day.

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