Friday, 10 July 2015

All Creatures Great and Small

One of the joys of living in a different country is to appreciate the local wildlife. There is an element of apprehension, of course when neighbours tell you that snakes and scorpions can climb into your house through windows. But so far all the dire warnings have failed to produce real threats. We have seen snakes. But they seem more scared of us and slither off into the undergrowth or down holes in the sun baked ground.

The ones we have seen live, I believe, are not poisonous, according to the internet.  The species is called "Uysal" which is Turkish for docile.

There are around 45 species of snakes in Turkey, and of these around 10 are poisonous. The most common venomous snake is the black viper. Snakes are very rarely seen in tourist areas. It may also comfort you to know that between 1995 and 2004 (the latest period for which data is available), while 550 people visited clinics or hospitals due to snake bites, there were no deaths. Most snake bites were contracted in Marmara, Central Anatolia and Turkey’s Black Sea region.

However, a neighbour managed to kill the one pictured below after it had eaten one of his baby chickens. This one, he assured us, was indeed poisonous.

More warnings were given about a huge local Kangal dog called Marco. But after feeding him a few meals he began to roll over and demand that we rub his tummy. The Kangal can weigh up to 66 kilos but it is not as heavy as some other mastiffs and can actually reach speeds of up to 30mph. It is primarily a shepherd's dog but it does not herd sheep. While Marco is a gentle giant with us, he growls ominously at strangers so is the perfect guard dog.

Marco, a big softy really.

Meanwhile the garden was invaded by tortoises. There were so many I decided to give them numbers.

I am up to number nine so far. Here is Darcy and Willow inspecting number 3. He comes most days for water.

 Finally, in the market in Tire you can find people selling leeches (sülük). A bottle of four for around £2.30.

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