Quail and rabbits are cute, even entertaining to watch. Lizards don't faze me, as long as they're little and leave me alone. Prairie dogs are kind of cute, as long as you don't mind the holes they dig everywhere.
Javelinas are annoying, they get into your trash or freak you out a little bit when they cross the road in front of you while you're walking to the bus stop. Coyotes stay mostly unseen and don't really bother adults cause they're not interested in anything we have. And bobcats are something I've only seen a couple of times from far away. Tarantulas are hairy and freaky looking, but harmless.
But the most disturbing thing I've ever seen in my life in the desert was this:
A giant gila monster!
Yesterday afternoon we went to Taco Bell and when we came back we were leisurely going in the front door, taking our time. We have a carport right by our front door so we only walk a few feet to get in our house. I got in first carrying Ava and our food bag, then turned around to see Alana and David coming in.
On the ground about 5 feet away from our carport I spotted a giant orange and black lizard running towards us at full speed (not really that fast in the overall scheme of things, but pretty fast for a freaking lizard!).
(Everything at this point was in slo-mo for a little while).
I yelled OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! GET IN THE HOUSE! Alana and David's reaction to my panic was to move even slower and turn around to see what I was yelling about. In the moment I couldn't think of what the huge lizard running at me was called, so I just said Look! Get in the house already! I swear when I tell Alana to move faster or get out of the way she does the opposite. Curiousity gets the best of her.
Once the door was shut I said What the heck was that thing? David drew on his database of desert animals and correctly identified it as a gila monster.
At this point it was on our carport, right in front of our front door. Maybe it was hungry for Taco Bell?
David decided he couldn't just let it stay there to go away by itself. I called animal control and they said they were off duty, they couldn't be of any assistance with the poisonous lizard waiting outside our door. So David went outside with the broom (gila monster defense weapon of choice) and tried to "shoo" it away. All he did was make it mad. It was backed into a corner hissing at David, so David threw rocks at it. That's what real men do when faced with dangerous reptiles, throw rocks at them. Then the final weapon in David's arsenal was the rake. We lost a lot of good rakes that day.
During the great gila monster battle of 2010, Alana was very concerned with the safety of her daddy. She kept yelling out the side door Daddy? You okay? Me don't want you to get bit!
After a 20 minute battle with the gila monster, David managed to drag it into the wash with the rake. Its scaly orange and black head was stuck between the rake blades, but it was still alive. The rake and the gila monster ended up staying in the wash.
Its actually illegal to kill them, even though they're poisonous. So as far as you and I and the law are concerned, that lizard is alive and well and living in Sante Fe, just trying to get its life back together after the rake incident. (It really was still alive when David last saw it, its kind of hard to kill an 18 inch lizard with a broom from 6 feet away).
Last night I didn't sleep that great because every time I closed my eyes I just kept picturing that ugly lizard sprinting toward my front door. I'm pretty sure that it will come back to seek revenge on the giant man with a rake. Any minute now there will be a knock on the door, and when I open the door there will be a box, and in that box will be the gila monster. Then it will jump out at me and say You killed my father, now prepare to die!
Maybe it thinks revenge is a dish best served cold, and its waiting till we forget about it to strike. Maybe the gila monster is just as traumatized as we are. It had a craving for a bean burrito and this is what happened.