Locked In

I have seen news stories about all the wildlife boldly going where no undomesticated animal has gone before since the coronavirus quarantine drove people into their dens.  While we have been locked down, nature sees us as “locked in.”  Wild animals are using the opportunity to run amok. I think it is the natural world equivalent to calling all your friends and having a party when your parents are away for the weekend… or for many extended weeks in the case of coronavirus quarantine.

I am seeing it in my own neighborhood.  Our friendly neighborhood rabbit, Honey Bunny, has made several appearances in my backyard in the last couple of weeks.  We often see squirrels scattering around in the trees back there. Seeing Honey Bunny is a rarer phenomenon.  Up until a few weeks ago, we had not seen hide nor hare for over a year.  Then there was Ghastly Gussie the Gator.  I’ve lived in Florida for over five years and, before the quarantine, saw no alligators sunning themselves in the proximity of my sun porch.  After seeing a very live Ghastly Gussie in the backyard, I have seen two halves of alligators on opposite sides of the main highway outside my subdivision.  They might not have been so ghastly as Gussie, but certainly grislier and more gruesome. 

A week or so ago, a friend and I both saw some sort of mystery critter within a few days of each other. It was skedaddling into the brush around our community “meditation glen” wooded area.  We both saw it in about the same location, so I think it is probably the same animal.  Neither one of us have a clue as to the identity of this animal, even after extensive googling.  To me, it looked like a brown, furry, ambulatory ottoman roughly the size of an overfed lhasa apso.  Someone suggested it might be a wild hog, but it seemed too fluffy to be a hog.  It moved like an extremely large skunk, but it seemed to be devoid of any skunk striping or coloring.  I wondered if it might be a mink or otter, but it seemed too large and stocky to be a mink or otter.  It also would have had to have been a mink or otter having a really bad hair day because this creature certainly lacked the sleek elegance of minks and otters. It might have been a raccoon, but there was no banding on the dark brown bushy tale.  I really thought it looked most like a fisher cat or wolverine, but fisher cats and wolverines do not live in Florida. Whatever it was, I am sure I have never seen anything like it before the quarantine.

The other day, as I sat at the table eating breakfast, I noticed some action outside my screened-in lanai.  I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye.  I looked outside and saw Robert(a) the Bobcat sidling past my lanai.  If I had been out on the lanai and the bobcat had stayed where he/she was, I could have touched him/her through the screen.  That is how close the cat was.  Robert(a) was not in any particular hurry.  He/she walked purposefully but was clearly not in any “fight or flight” mode.  Max and I watched while Robert(a) made his/her way past all the houses on my street until he/she disappeared around a curve in the conservation belt behind the houses.  

Not to be outdone by the bobcat, Rocky (short for Rockette; I am guessing she was a female braving the daylight to forage food for a nest of babies) the Raccoon tramped by the lanai yesterday.  When I posted a photo on Facebook, my neighbors responded with dire warnings that Rocky was probably the Rabid Raccoon because she was out during the day.  Further research indicated that, although raccoons are primarily nocturnal, they are often seen during the day, especially in the spring when mommy raccoons leave the babies in the nest while they wander in search of calories.  Either for the babies or for themselves.  Apparently, nursing baby raccoons is hard work.  Google indicated that, if rabid, a raccoon will likely be disoriented, clumsy, and lethargic.  Rocky was none of those things.  In fact, she traversed the backyards along my street with a certain pep in her step and lightness of foot.  She seemed to travel most gracefully with a rhythm of movement.  That is why I named her Rockette.  I half expected to see her doing eye high kicks.

I think I am beginning to understand how animals in the zoo feel.  I’m locked in and the regular inhabitants of my world are coming out to look at me!

Rockette the Raccoon high-stepping outside my lanai

FRIENDLY REMINDER: Today, my second book, Random (A)Musings, launched on Amazon. You can order paperback and kindle editions. You can thank me later!

Me, showing off my new book before yesterday’s virtual launch party
I couldn’t wait to read it!

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