Wednesday 5 February 2014

Frog prince? If only...

I never thought that the location for my sitting and picking a quite extraordinary number of leeches off my skin would be my own deck. Watching Stand By Me, apart from scarring me forever, taught me that they lurk in wet, boggy, wild places, so I was alert to the possibility of a close encounter with something squelchy when I was walking through the Amazon jungle, for instance. As well as a charming capybara, there had already been a snake, a tarantula and a motorway of huge ants that apparently sting as well as bite ("24 hours of pain," the guide said) so leeches would have been stock characters, so to speak. But there were none; though there was a frog in my shower.

And I was quite unperturbed to see a big, fat, glistening leech while traversing a swampy bit on the Bay of Fires walk in north-east Tasmania - mainly because it was on the sock of the man in front of me, rather than my own skin. You expect these things in Australia. If an Aussie had seen the - thankfully - tiny things I was scraping off today, you know what he would have said. Altogether now: "Call that a leech?"

Even so, it was disturbing. Here, in the civilised suburbs? Unexpected. There's been a lot of pond business going on lately, some of it good (tadpoles! baby frog!) and some of it sad (the sudden deaths of 5 - five - big fish, more than 10 years old) so today there was teeth-gritting and money-spending, and a fancy new pump and filter installed. Which involved prolonged elbow-deep immersion in green water, fiddling with pipes and controls - and also, it turned out, being latched onto by a dozen or so of the presumably hundreds of leeches who are apparently now living in the weed I was holding to one side.

Possibly they arrived in the water with the mail-order tadpoles. Shocking survival statistics there, by the way: 10 tadpoles led to just one baby frog, and I haven't seen him for a few days. Perhaps the leeches got him. Or, even more tragically, her. The whole purpose of the project was to give Bruce a bit of female company, after years of fruitless croaking; but it looks as though he's going to remain a bachelor, poor old man.

1 comment:

the queen said...

Jesus god. Leeeeeches.


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