Animals

Animals of Guam.

Creepy Creatures of Guam: Bugs!

Maybe it’s the humidity, I don’t know, but all bugs in Guam seem bigger than I’ve ever seen when I lived in Oregon! There are some pretty cool ones too, like the Rhino Beetle, that I’ve never seen before. Then there are those bugs that I have seen before, only much smaller versions than the ones I see on Guam. For some reason grasshoppers like to congregate on or around my door and they are horrible at flying. As soon as I pass them they freak out, jump into the air, and fly in circles. Sometimes I’m unaware of them and they land on my clothes, get into my apartment and spazz out once inside. Peter always tries to protect me from them by shielding me as I walk past, but sometimes they fly in circles and we both run off screaming. There are also a lot of Praying Mantises, which I’m sure are around to eat all the grasshoppers. They’re so aware of their surroundings, whenever we pass by they turn their heads and watch us go. Once Peter caught a praying mantis and a grasshopper and put them in a jar together. It was only a few minutes when the mantis murdered the grasshopper and ate it. I was disgusted and Peter was intrigued (boys!). But the strangest one that I’ve never seen until I came here is the stick bug. There are also these white slugs that I saw during my Tagu’an Point walk and occasionally see around my home. They almost looked like they glowed in the dark!

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Creepy Creatures: The Rhino Beetle

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One day as I was walking downstairs to the laundry room of my building, I noticed this small, black thing wedged in a crevice between a door and a wall.  As I approached it I immediately recognized what it was by its hind legs. A coconut rhinoceros beetle! Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the negative impact they’ve had on the island. Here is a story about the devastation from Pacific Daily News. According to the article, trees along the beach in Tumon have been chopped down due to damage by the beetle. One of the most beautiful things about the beaches are that they are lined with coconut trees, so I was saddened when I went to Ypao Beach and saw stumps where trees once flourished. As of now, the beetle has spread to all villages on Guam. There are different ideas about how to get rid of the pests, but I’m not sure if any of them are working. It’s surprising that these beetles are able to cause any damage at all because they look drunk and uncoordinated when they fly.

When Peter came back home from work, I told him what I found. I know that he’s been wanting to catch one so he was really happy. Without a second thought, Peter scooped it up into his hands and took him upstairs. He then tied a rope around the beetle and put him in a pot of dirt. The beetle began digging its way deep into the pot and stayed there. We considered killing it because that’s what you’re supposed to do, but it felt wrong. It’s not just like a bug you can squash with your foot. It’s thick and its signature rhino horn on top of its head is amazing! Unfortunately, I’ve been seeing a lot of these lately and I’m hoping that it’s not a sign that they are taking over. Let’s just hope that Guam is able to get this problem under control.

 

Things to do in Guam: Zoo & Botanical Garden!

Why it’s taken me nearly two years to visit the zoo,  I have no idea! Nonetheless, over the holiday weekend, I finally made the visit. I actually used to live just around the corner from the zoo and during my walks to the beach, I’d hear the strange animal noises coming from the fenced area. I first visited the Guam Zoo website to see what kind of animal noises I’d been hearing. The website is very informational, easy to use and nicely done. I learned that the zoo is privately owned by the Cushing family and they have a surprising list of animals that call their zoo home.

Monday came and we headed down to the zoo in Tumon, which borders the Holiday Resort & Spa. We rang the bell for assistance and paid the entrance fee (if you ask for the local/military rate it is $10/person rather than $15 and bring cash). The first animal we spotted was the carabao/water buffalo. It was slowly drinking water from its pool. Next to him there was a white bird that sounded like it was saying, “Hello” every time we turned to walk away. In front of the carabao’s fence was a machine that dispensed animal food for $0.25. I was like, “woohooo!!” and bought a ton of food to feed the animals. Immediately, the carabao came over, recognizing the sound of the food dispenser. We fed him and proceeded on to the next animal’s area, the donkey! The donkey was one of my favorite animals. Peter fed him and I poured food down the pipe that led to his feeding bowl. He was so cute and his little legs were funny. “A donkey?” You’re probably thinking. Yes, remember that this might be the only donkey Guamanian children will ever see.  Those of us from The States seeing a flock of geese fly by during their migration might be a normal thing, but in Guam normal animals that you see day-to-day in The States don’t exist here. This being the ONLY zoo on Guam, I’m glad they provided both endemic and nonendemic animals. After the donkey I saw the deer that roam throughout Guam’s hills. I’ve yet to see deer in the wild; although, I have seen their tracks in the red dirt. My most favorite animals were the sea turtles! They’re so majestic! I also saw a wild boar that didn’t do much other than lay in the dirt. I saw regular pigs, snapping turtles, emu, ostrich (which Peter yelled, “Hey I ate one of you in the Philippines!”), macaque, birds, sharks, goats, monitor lizards, back leopard, snakes and so many more. The moray eel was my least favorite, it creeped me out. And to think that they are in Guam’s beautiful waters! Yikes.

I was very impressed with zoo, especially as it is privately owned! It was nicely maintained and the zoo keeper was very friendly. Guam Zoo is unlike any zoo I’ve ever been to, it’s quite small and houses less animals. The pens, pools and cages are well taken care of, the animals seem happy and more domesticated than at other zoos. It’s nice to be in a zoo where it’s really all about the animals and not all about making money. There are no gift shops or restaurants and you’re pretty much free to walk around and be on your own, the zoo keeper is available for questions though. I like that I was able to feed some of the animals and I was pleasantly surprised that they had a variety of animals and not just animals found on Guam.  The beautiful trees that provided shade to the entire park and the ponds (don’t forget your mosquito repellant), made me forget that just outside the fence was the hustle and bustle of Tumon’s most popular tourist area. I was so happy with my experience at the zoo and I’m thankful that the Cushing family gave this to Guam! Two thumbs up!

The Dead Whale in Guam

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Last week I read about the dead whale that washed on to the reef in Guam. The whale died at sea and ended up in Ylig Bay in the village of Yona. It was both sad and amazing. Over the weekend I went in search of the whale using the map and directions from the newspaper. The small road that leads to the private property was lined with parked cars and people walking to see the whale. We basically had to enter the private property, which included crawling under a locked chain linked fence. We walked past the person’s home and down to the beach. People have been asking me if there was a bad smell, but I didn’t smell anything. The whale had been there for a few days by the time I went to see it. As I reached the bottom of the hill, I could see the massive carcass stuck on the reef. I stood there for awhile and watched as a few crazy people walked out to touch the whale. Hopefully we will find out more about how the whale died and what they are going to do about the carcass. As far as I know, it will be on the reef for awhile!

Creatures of Guam: Carabao

I grew up in a very small town in Oregon surrounded by farms. Horses, cows and sheep were a daily presence in my life . As the daughter of a sheep herder, I watched as my dad and his friends helped the sheep birth lambs, I fed them and road around in the truck while the dogs and sheep herders herded the sheep. Taking the back roads to college everyday, I’d often see cows grazing in the pasture. Occasionally one would escape and make me late for class because it decided to stand in the road.

Guam isn’t home to many animals at all, but when I first saw a Carabao eating grass on the side of the road, I shrieked and did a double-take.  Its horns were massive and I thought it was going to charge at me! Carabao are very lazy, slow animals and don’t attack! I know that now.

The further south you go, the more common these creatures become. If you’re lucky while driving south, there is a man who walks his carabao along the roadside, but the funny thing is that sitting on the carabao’s back is his dog!

I recently spent a day at my friend’s ranch just past Mt. Lam Lam. Her family happened to have a carabao and offered to let us ride him! Peter was the brave one, as usual. He jumped on the animal and road it down the hill. There is a special way to steer the carabao using the heel of your foot and two large ropes to guide its head. At one point the carabao walked into some branches and nearly knocked Peter off of his back!

Carabao are hot commodities and people will actually try to steal these monsters! They are used as natural grass cutters, very slow carriers and to keep tradition alive.

Maybe someday I will ride the carabao at Chamorro Village…when I get the nerve!

Creepy Creatures of Guam: Balati

There are many creatures that call the ocean surrounding Guam, home. Just swimming in Tumon Bay I’ve seen a very small reef shark, needlefish and eels! The most common sea creature I see is Balati, or sea cucumber. You will rarely or barely see them move, but you know they’re alive. One day the ocean floor is clean, and the next black blobs are scattered along the beach and in the water. Although I’ve never touched one, I’ve had one thrown at me! Very recently I discovered that they come in other colors and textures. They just keep getting more gruesome-looking 😦

I think they are perfectly harmless and provide fun to the local kids who like to throw them at each other. They sometimes squirt out this white goo if squeezed. What more can I say about the Balati?

Balati

Creepy Creatures of Guam: Green Anole!

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As usual, my animal-lover boyfriend found this little creature at work. During the day I received an excited text from him stating that he found one of those bright green lizard things. I didn’t think much of it because he usually finds animals and is a very curious person naturally. When I came home I noticed a large, clear, empty juice jug sitting on my kitchen table. Inside the jug there was something moving around and yes, it was this little guy. I inspected it from the outside and noticed that it was very different from the lizards and geckos I frequently see all over Guam. For one, the intense, bright green color was unlike anything I’d ever seen and its feet had, what looked like, claws. Peter took his jug outside and let it crawl out, and guess what…the little creature was very calm and didn’t run away! It just walked out and stayed put! He didn’t seem scared or scurry away like geckos. I was warming up to him. We put him back in the jug and decided to do some research on him. We originally thought he was some kind of Chameleon because he could change colors depending on his environment (brown to green). This is when we found out that he is a Green Anole and very fragile. Even though he seemed calm and possibly like a good pet, what we read told us that he took a lot of care and could die easily. I don’t see these very often, but when I do they are very eye catching. They seem much smarter and more curious than geckos or lizards. Knowing that he’d most likely die if we kept him, we set him free in the jungle near our home!

Creepy Creatures of Guam: FROGS!

A really long time ago my dad found a fat toad in our back yard. It had dug a hole and occasionally came out, which is how my dad found it. He scooped it up with his shovel and put him in the alley where there were bushes and grass. That’s the first and last time I saw a toad…until I moved to Guam.

Walking down the streets of Tumon, especially after it has rained, frogs sit along the grass. Most of the time I can’t see them because they sit so still and look like rocks. Sometimes one will be sitting in front of my door and not move, not even when I try to open the door! It just freezes and acts like I can’t see it.  This is probably why there are so many dead, flattened frogs in the road.

Creepy Creatures of Guam: Geckos

How could I NOT do a blog post about the cutest of all creatures on Guam…the GECKO! These little guys are abundant all over the island. Initially, I thought I would be purely horrified at the sight of them, but no, I was not afraid of them at all! My fear was at ease partially due to the stories my sister used to write for me when I was a kid about me and my pet gecko, and partially because they are more afraid of me than I of them.

Now, don’t get these confused with lizzards. Geckos have sticky feet and can climb walls and are a lot smaller. They make this really strange noise that I can’t even begin to describe, but it has become normal to me as cricket noises were back in The States. Geckos often get inside and can sometimes be a bit annoying when they leave their mess in hard to reach places.

They eat bugs mostly and can change color depending on their surroundings. The cutest thing I think are baby geckos, which are no bigger than half of my pinky!