Wildlife in Grenada – For Better or Worse

by Nora Dunn on December 29, 2011

Caterpillar in Grenada

The wildlife in Grenada is quite an eclectic mix of creatures….some big, some small. Some that bite, some that I bite. Here’s a random selection of critters I’ve had dealings with – of one sort or another.

Centipedes

I thought I’d done my time with centipedes when I was bitten twice in my first two weeks of living in Hawaii, while minding my own business and sleeping in bed.

But on the first night while minding my own business and sleeping in bed in Grenada, a foot-long centipede crawled not into my bed (thank god), but into the dog’s water bowl. I awoke to this (thankfully) dead and formidably ugly creature floating in the water, and wondered if it was some sort of omen – or even an occult warning of sorts.

that's a big water bowl too...

Omen or warning notwithstanding, I immediately thereafter got hit with heartbreak and dengue fever, and I’ve had a few more “encounters” with creatures I’d rather not have had (read on for more).

If the island is trying to tell me something, I’m staunchly not listening. The good still far outweighs the bad!

Oh yeah, an I’m stubborn as all hell.

Goats

goats

On to nicer creatures, like the goats that line the street-sides all over the place. I’m not sure if they’re kept for grass-reduction purposes (like the sheep that I had in Australia), or for dining purposes; I imagine it’s a bit of both.

Lobsters

Lobster is one of my favourite foods, as has been the case since early childhood. On my birthday every year, my grandfather used to get live lobsters and prepare them for a celebratory feast. However I was never in the kitchen for the preparation phase, so I didn’t have to contend with the act of actually cooking a live lobster – and all that it entailed.

So when the local fisherman here at my beach pulled up with a tub of lobsters, I had one in my hand and was marching towards my hut before I even understood the consequences of this wanton act.

now what?

Now what?

Now I had to cook it.

Which meant killing it.

In that moment, when I was holding the writhing lobster and looking into its beady little eyes wondering what to do, I had a brief flirtation with becoming a vegetarian and letting it go back to its watery habitat. Just how was I going to kill this creature? Even logistically, I couldn’t wrap my head around it, with the lobster’s sharp spines making things particularly difficult.

But then I gave my head a shake, as I knew I’d continue to eat meat and seafood in future, and I tend to preach about how we should be more in touch with what we eat (from origins to hygiene). So I bit the bullet – as did my lobster friend – and hours later I was enjoying the “fruits” of my labour.

Bugs – the Biting Kind

Thus far, the centipede avoided me, the goats are cute, and I won the battle with the lobster.

But sadly, this is where the story takes a tragic turn. Despite regular application of insect repellant, from day one in Grenada I’ve been taunted by sand flies (miniscule little creatures that pack a punch with their bites and leave little bumps all over my arms), and given Dengue Fever by mosquitos.

If that wasn’t bad enough, a few weeks into my Grenadian stay, I was attacked – ravaged, even – by something, over a couple of days. Almost overnight, dozens of bites appeared on my legs, mostly below the knee, and a few on my arms. It was reminiscent of the 37 spider bites I endured in Australia, including the reaction that ensued which devolved into an infection that required antibiotics.

sick bragging rights

The verdict is still out as to what the creatures were this time, but the general consensus is mosquitoes. Although I’d been nibbled on my mosquitoes all along (all my life, in fact), this time they invoked a violent reaction causing large dark red swollen marks that blistered and hardened in an oh-so unsightly manner.

I’ve never reacted to mosquitoes in quite this fashion, but maybe the sheer quantity of bites was the impetus.

I hit a new low point in my Caribbean stay when I was awake at 2:30am, unable to sleep (and unwilling to tolerate yet more horrific dreams about how these bites were evolving and would eventually envelop me as a new alien life form). I started taking “souvenir” photos of my blistered bites, thinking nobody would believe just how bad they were. For posterity, you know.

(I’ll spare you these gory close-up 2:30am photos).

Since then I’ve purchased an insecticide and reluctantly fumigated my hut (not being a fan of such chemicals, this wasn’t far from an act of desperation). I also staunchly refuse to go outside at dawn or dusk, and I almost never walk on the expansive lawns on the property – which is where I think I contracted a large portion of the bites (I had been spinning poi in the grass).

I still get bites, which tend to become an exaggerated bumps that most normal people don’t have, but the lion’s share (or leg’s share, as it were) has largely healed.

Centipedes, spiders, and now mosquitoes. I dare not ask what other critters the universe can throw at me, for I’m certain I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Jari December 29, 2011 at 7:53 am

Wow, impressive souvenirs you have there…hope they clear up quickly! My mum always put a chickweed ointment on mozzie/itchy bites, even when we had chicken pox. Stops the itching fairly quickly. I’m sure the locals must have some kind of remedy? Sucks you got the Dengue Fever too! I am heading to Costa Rica in a few weeks and have stocked up on insect repellent…hopefully it will be enough to minimise the mozzie risk!

Best wishes, Jari

Reply

theprofessionalhobo December 29, 2011 at 8:50 am

@Jari – I was using aloe vera (fresh) and tea tree oil on the bites, but once the bites started to blister I pulled out the big guns and went to the pharmacist, who gave me a special calamine lotion for the redness/itching, and Fucidin (antibiotic) cream for the ones that were becoming infected.

And I got Dengue despite twice/daily applications of repellant! Sometimes they get you, sometimes they don’t. Luckily you’ll be headed for Costa Rica for dry season – you should be fine! :-)

Reply

Nicole December 29, 2011 at 9:07 am

Your leg looks like the work of no-see-ums. My family had legs like yours when we lived on your neighbor island to the north, st. Vincent. The best remedy is covering up from sundown until morning, pants, long sleeves, and especially socks, which sucks when you’re in the tropics, but the nasty biters can’t get you through even thin fabric. No-see-ums might be the one & only thing I don’t miss about the Caribbean! Enjoy your time there. :)

Reply

Miki December 29, 2011 at 9:13 am

Ok, that centipede is freaking me out. I would have had bags packed and heading to the airport after running in to that thing!
The lobster isn’t helping either, that bad boy looks sharp and scary.
You are truly brave!
The porch on the hut looks awesome though, good Pina Colada spot…

Reply

Ed Rex December 29, 2011 at 12:48 pm

I think pretty soon there will be a war between travellers and mozzies!

Reply

Sunny December 29, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Hi there, I enjoy your blog, Grenada in the title catch my eyes. If I am not mistaking, a Toronto man got trouble over there recently. I wish you a safe trip and be careful while being there. But at the same time, you said Caribbean… So I don’t have a clue where you are right now lol. You are quite a character to visit all those exotic countries. I love reading your blog for that. Good luck and happy holidays!

Reply

theprofessionalhobo December 30, 2011 at 8:42 am

@Nicole – I think you may be right! And correct me if I’m wrong, but the more “official” term for no-see-ums is sand flies/fleas, right?

@Miki – Whimp. ;-)

@Ed – I just read a statistic that mozzies are responsible for more deaths around the world than anything else….and by a long shot too. Malaria, Yellow Fever, Dengue, Typhoid, the list goes on! Ew.

@Sunny – Thanks for the kind words. Yes, a Toronto man got beaten badly in Grenada, for “assaulting” a police officer. It all seems a little suspect if you ask me.
Happy Holidays to you too, and though I’m writing this from Grenada (still), I’ll be heading to some other sunny warm countries soon!

Reply

Red Hunt December 30, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Haha, perils in paradise I guess!
Why is it that the most annoying bugs also like to hang out in the most attractive destinations?
Fun post, a nice twist on the Caribbean….

Reply

Heather in Toronto December 30, 2011 at 8:53 pm

If I saw a centipede, it would not faze me. Its all perspective as to where you are from. It seems the hotter the country, the bigger the bugs. I am from S. Africa and we had a black mamba on our front steps – now that brought out a sweat. Canadians freak out if they see an ant inside. Fortunately, most bugs are harmless, just not pretty, but unfortunately, we have to share this world with them. Florida has no-see-ums as well – horrible little things with a big bite, Canada has black flies. Not many places are immune. You are such a trouper, Nora, wish I had your balls to travel the world on my own – in the meantime, I live through you. I am sure there are many more like me just itching to go but have to confront that fear first. Sailing in the Caribbean sounds wonderful – I look forward to following many more of your adventures. All the best for 2012 and all that it has in store.

Reply

theprofessionalhobo December 31, 2011 at 7:02 am

@Red – Thanks! I have a habit of drawing out both the best and worst critters wherever I go. For example, in Oz I received 37 spider bites in one night….but I also had a wild kangaroo that was in love with me, lived on my doorstep, and followed me around everywhere I went. I guess you take the bad with the good!

@Heather – You’re absolutely right, it’s all about frame of reference. Ask some of my Aussie friends (to go with the Oz theme) what’s moving on the grass in front of them, and they won’t batt an eyelash as they spout the name of a highly poisonous snake like they see it every day. (They probably do).

I think city-dwellers are the worst for having a low tolerance to bugs, especially inside the house. Hey – I used to be a city-dweller, so I should know. But I think I’ve earned my “country-stripes” now…..I can go rural or urban – throw at me what you can!

Reply

Sergio Felix January 3, 2012 at 4:17 am

Yikes,

They were practically munching your legs! o.O

But from the ones you mentioned, I’m pretty sure I’d choose the mosquitoes or the sand flies from that centipede.

I’ve heard is not a fun experience to have and I’m certainly it could be very painful as well.

Are you sharing the gory pictures too? :)

Sergio

Reply

theprofessionalhobo January 4, 2012 at 9:13 am

@Sergio – No, I’m sparing everybody the gory photos…..trust me, it’s for the best…. :-)

Reply

Tricia January 15, 2012 at 6:09 pm

OMG what an annoyance. Good luck on escaping the critters in the future.

Reply

theprofessionalhobo January 16, 2012 at 10:19 am

@Tricia – Some of the best adventures are often mis-adventures anyway! Although yes, I could do with a few (hundred) less biting creatures taking a chunk out of me! :-)

Reply

Jorge O. June 4, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Wow Nora! You are a brave girl ;) centipedes are scary and sand flies are a huge annoyance… That many mosquito bites look bad! The gory details are better saved for your memoirs ;)

I got flesh-eating bacteria once in Guatemala, from a mosquito bite… Woke up to a couple of scorpions in the floor in LaPazCentro, Nicaragua (amazing adventure, I have to write that in my blog someday)…. I have my share of sand flies in the beach whenever we stay until sundown…. and I’ve held in my hand and iguana I just hunted down, which later was a delicious (really, amazing!) Iguana-BBQ….

Loving your adventures!! I really regret you didn’t make it to PR, you are an inspiration :)

Cheers!

Reply

theprofessionalhobo June 5, 2012 at 7:56 am

@Jorge – I had a friend here in Grenada with a similar flesh-eating bacterial infection of sorts….it was horrible! I guess we just have to take the bad (bugs) with the good (awesome places to visit) …. ;-)

Reply

Libby Langager October 8, 2012 at 4:20 am

Spider bites can be quite deadly specially if it comes from a poisonous spider specie. I always take spider bites seriously and have a doctor take a look at the bite site for proper evaluation.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: