Thursday, December 10, 2009


Another mammal from Hato el cedral's garden and pool. This is an agouti and a very tame one at that. I suspect he was probably habituated to humans as a rescued baby as he was happy to approach people and liked having a scratch (which triggered a bizzare trembling behaviour). The hair of these is very coarse and wiry interestingly.


Agouti are fairly big rodents; fruit and seed eaters which disperse rainforest fruit and provide food for a variety of species including humans. In fact, as this one shows, they can be quasi-domesticated and as a result of this local tribes introduced them to a number of Caribbean islands including Grand Cayman as a food source (rabbits arrived in England in the same way ).

There was another mammal in the garden, a species of armadillo. Unfortunately I didn't get shots of it for a very good reasons. What were those reasons you ask? Well I'll tell you. I first saw an armadillo trundle across the lawn as I left the room to go to breakfast. I grabbed my camera and discovered that, due to the rooms aircon, all I got were steamy window shots. of a grey blob. I relaxed, convinced I'd see another and mentioned it to our guide. No worries says he, there is a nearby field where they are plentiful. We'll drive through it on the way out this morning and get plenty of shots.....and so it came to pass that we were driving through a grass field sat in the back of an open-backed safari truck when all hell broke loose. I became vaguely aware of a few insects buzzing around and suddenly our guide, Rafael, was flicking frantically at his hair and banging on the back of the truck cab shouting "GO! GO! GO!". It took me a moment to assess what was happening and then the penny dropped - we had disturbed and were now under attack from a swarm of Africanised or Killer Bees! I pulled my fiancee to the opposite side of the cab from Raphael - he'd already been stung and I knew the bees released a pheromone when they stung that effectively instructs all the other bees to target this spot - I determined we should be as far away from that spot as possible. Discretion truly is the better part of valour. Behind the truck, a black swarm looking remarkably like that which would feature in a cartoon was tracking us. The truck was now doing about 45mph across a very bumpy field and the main goal now was not to fall out and get left with the bees! We eventually put space between us and the bees and regrouped. Raphael had taken 7 or 8 stings, the missus 1 and the driver and I had somehow come out unscathed. Had we been on foot we'd have been absolutely screwed. As it was we let the armadillos have that field to themselves. I think the experience may have limited the chances of my persuading my better half to let me have a beehive somewhat too.

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