A Girl and a Salamander

Let me tell you a story about a girl, who was the sort of girl so sensitive to noises and new things that she would run away screaming from the sound of the doorbell, cry at the thought or mention of touching an animal, cry when dogs barked from another room of a house, huddle close to Mama when she was nervous about the aforementioned things, and was someone you’d never thing would want to hold a lizard.

She’s my 9 year old.

And she caught a lizard–a tiger salamander–a few days ago.

This girl is so surprising, in so many ways, especially her growing love for animals.

Last fall we found two tiger salamanders in our basement window well, and have kept them as pets in a tank we found at a thrift store. For months, Chickadee has been wanting to hold one, but they can dry easily especially on contact with things/humans outside their natural environment. We haven’t let her hold them, even though she has gloves from a tie-dye kit which she thought of wearing to protect the skin of the salamander. Honestly, I didn’t want the creatures out. I didn’t want to deal with them scurrying off or jumping from her hands.

And then a few days ago, she found another, a much smaller salamander, when we were working on turning the sprinklers back on. I decided to go ahead and let Chickadee try to catch and hold this one, only about the size of a finger.
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She was so excited about it, letting it crawl on her hands and being very careful to keep moving her hands to catch it.

The first pair of salamanders have grown to be about double their size, and are now large enough that they’ll eat not just bugs, but smaller animals as well. Because of this, Chickadee decided not to keep her newest salamander in the same tank.

She kept him in a smaller plastic container.
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The little guy was in the container, in the house, for about 36 hours. This is the part that my Mama-instinct kicked in, and I *should* have listened. Around the time I was getting cozy in bed last night, I thought to myself, “I wonder if the lid is covering the salamander…” and then rolled over and dismissed the thought.

Turns out, the lid was not covering the dish, and the little salamander has escaped. (This happens to be slightly reminiscent of a pet disaster her Daddy had as a child…only that was a hamster which escaped and ate through the couch!)

You guys, we haven’t found the salamander. I have a feeling we will either start smelling funk from the vents because it has fallen down the heat vents, or we’ll find it’s dried up dead body when we move in two years. Either way…ewwww…

And poor Chickadee, she’s upset about her escaped salamander, which she had already named. At least she’s off the hook for finding bugs to feed it!


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