Small Differences: Rabies

Today I received an email from the Township informing me that a local skunk was found to have rabies.  Yes, as if a skunk being near you wasn’t bad news enough, this particular offender was rabid.  I picked up this email on my phone while eating lunch.  Such appetising news.  But I’ve never had to really think about rabies before so this is an interesting development for me.

Great Britain, by virtue of being an island nation, is rabies free.  Well, technically it is.  Sometimes an occasional international flying bat makes its way to Britain carrying the rabies virus and I remember tales of rabid foxes hiking through the Channel Tunnel, though how true that is I don’t know.  Generally, however, in Britain we don’t have to fret about rabies.  It is something that I have been peripherally aware of because of travelling but I’ve never really, properly had to think about it.

Now that I live in America, I am going to have to get used to all sorts of new “rules” about bugs and beasties.  In 2000 I was on a road trip in the South West of the US and was scooping lizards up into my hands in the desert.  My brother-in-law thought I was nuts and dragged me to look at a book at the Ranger Station that was about identifying venomous and poisonous creatures, his point being that I was picking them up willy nilly not knowing which critters were friendly and which would have me writhing in agony, flicking through a book desperately attempting to identify the culprit  in order to determine which anti-venom serum I needed.  In the UK we have one “dangerous” critter, a snake called an adder.  That’s it.  Everything else is harmless.  That said, I did once still try to pick up an adder but it got away from me.  I don’t think adders are too aggressive though as, when I was a wee lassie, I was walking on Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh and jumped into some gorse that, it transpired, was an adder’s nest.  All the snakes did was quickly slither off while I was a bit startled.

Here in the US, however, there are a bunch of things that could inflict hurt and harm on me, from tiny spiders to angry snakes to cougars and bears.  I think even I would know not to try and interact with a mountain lion or grizzly, of course.  I can be a bit daft but I’m not that stupid.  But I do, for instance, need to get a clue about which spiders are OK and which are not.  And, lest we forget, I need to remember not to go near any critter that looks a bit crazy, twitchy or is foaming at the mouth.  I need to just stop picking up wild animals.