Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Growing up in the swamps southeastern part of Texas, dead animals were just a part of life.  The most common critters to get squashed were armadillos, opossums and skunks.  You would also see the occasional raccoon.  The local vulture population stayed fat and sassy, chowing down on this seemingly endless Vegas style buffet of carrion.  

When we moved to the Texas hill country, I realized you just don't see as many dead animals on the road in this part of the state.  Probably the most common roadkill was a whitetail or axis deer.  I had to slam on my brakes more than once to avoid hitting them.  And during the fall mating season, the stretch of Interstate 10 from Kerrville to San Antonio is littered with bucks and does that had skittered across several lanes of traffic yet weren't quite fast enough to outrun a vehicle going 70 mph.  Needless to say, they're gonna do a lot more damage to your car than an ugly old leprosy carrying armadillo.

Here in the suburbs of London, the most common dead critter on the our local roads is the fox.  I've spotted them crossing lanes of traffic on several occasions while I was driving and it's usually at dusk when it's difficult to see them.  They tend to lope rather than run outright so it's no wonder they get taken down by cars.  I've never seen a dead fox here in our neighborhood, but I have seen about one dead squirrel per week since we got the dog.

Last week I was walking Ollie and an Audi sped by going much faster than the posted 20 mph.  Now that I'm middle-aged, I get angry with these idiots who have lead feet.  There are always people out walking, jogging and biking plus residents like me with dogs on leashes or kids in strollers.  I rounded a bend in this little side road and discovered a dead squirrel that I surmised had just been run over by the speeding Audi - fresh blood everywhere.  Awww, poor thing!  

Yesterday I was out walking Ollie down a different side road in the 'hood when I just about stepped upon another freshly dead squirrel.  I let out a squeak as I had been looking up in search of a woodpecker as I strolled along listening to the tap-tap-tap while trying to locate it amongst the bare branches.  Ollie was obviously intrigued by the new smell and I had to drag him away as he lunged with all his might (8 lbs these days) to catch just one more whiff of the recently pancaked squirrel with its fluffy tail still intact and ruffling in the breeze.

I don't know what it is with the local squirrels always getting nailed by cars.  Cars going too fast all the time?  Squirrels immune to the sound of cars since they're so common?  Faulty genetics that have led to local squirrels being nearsighted, farsighted or astigmatic?  Obese and/or lazy squirrels that just can't get out of the way quick enough?  Or maybe it's the worldwide affliction of indecision, where the squirrel gets halfway across the road, changes its mind and goes back the same way it came so that the driver erroneously anticipates it continuing forward and swerves in the opposite direction to make a direct hit of the wishy-washy squirrel.  Why did the squirrel cross the road?  Beats me!

It makes me sad to see a dead animal on the road, even lowly tree dwelling rodents that like to steal birdseed from my feeder, thus knocking it off the branch onto the ground so that it requires a bit of repair.  I guess it could be worse a la southeast Texas when the toads hatch out and they're smashed in masses all over the road.  Ollie would absolutely love sniffing his way amongst the froggy carcasses - a veritable minefield of foul smelling frog guts that would require him to stop, drop and roll, no doubt.

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