Camel Spider eating flies

The video is at the bottom of the post…

Yeah, I know, this isn’t a travel post per se, or is it?  Well, this certainly isn’t in America…  it seems that everyone I talk to in the US seems very interested in the Camel Spider.  Since American soldiers started coming home with Camel Spider stories from the war in Iraq, the shy creature has acquired a fierce reputation, most of it unearned.  In reality, the Camel Spider is a beneficial predator in that it eats mice, insects and all other sorts of vermin.  It is shy, primarily hunting at night, avoids humans and doesn’t bite unless provoked – in other words, unless you jam your finger into its face.

We have a large Camel Spider hunting our work site.  He is probably about the size of a adult male’s closed fist.  He comes out to feast on the crickets that are drawn in by the floodlights we use at night so that we can see our work.  As he is our “friend” and eats mice, we leave him alone.  I had been tempted to catch one as a pet, but a large terrarium would be too big to fit into our small office.  I did see this baby Camel Spider and decided to turn him into our work Mascot.

When I caught him about two weeks ago, he was about the size of the fingernail on my middle finger.  He has grown by about 50% in these last weeks fed on a steady supply of flies.  Yes, there are enough flies here in Central Asia to feed a small country – if only they were edible to humans.  He regularly devours about 4 flies a day and prefers live prey to dead.  This has become a bit of art as we try to schwack the flies with the fly swatter just hard enough to stun or injure them, but not enough to kill them.  Then, the dance involves getting the half-live fly into our “temporary” terrarium – in actuality a 1/2 liter water bottle.

Spidey, as the guys have come to call him, doesn’t like the bright light so I’ve ordered a proper 10″ terrarium from Ebay this morning.  When it arrives, we’ll deck it out with sand and rocks.  Roscoe suggested taking a picture of the mountains outside and gluing it to the back of the tank, “Then he will feel at home.”  Ha, ha, we all got a good laugh out of that one.

In the video, I put my thumb in front of the bottle to give you some scale as to how small he is.  He was midway through eating one fly when the second, smelling the guts of his friend, came to inquire about a snack.  He in turn became the snack.

Note to self:

When a large predator is eating a colleague, don’t stand there and watch.  If you do watch, don’t make any sudden movements as the predator is “finishing” the remains of your friend.

 

 


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Antonov AN-32

We received some supplies today at work and they came in a most unusual package – a Russian Anatov 32.  This turbine/propeller driven monster has quite large engines for its size and is well suited to carry cargo to most anywhere in the world.

Once it pulled to a halt and the wheels were chocked, I wandered around this bird to get a better look.  It certainly has seen some use but seems rugged and well built.

The back end opens up - much like many of the military aircraft like the C-130 Hercules – and entire pallets can be loaded into its bay.  I watched as a forklift pulled our cargo out.

I backed up and shot a photo of the landing gear.  It is sturdily built and can take a rough or unimproved runway.  The Anatov’s high wing and high engine placement make it well suited for grass or dirt strips or improvised fields.  I’d sure love to get behind the yoke while this thing is flying.

I practiced my Russian and spoke with the crew.  The pilot is from Moscow and the co-pilot is from Kiev.  They assumed I knew much more Russian than I did and as a result they spoke so fast that I could hardly understand anything.  I offered them some drinks and they asked if the drinks were cold (in Russian).  This I understood and nodded saying, “Da.”  They happily accepted and when they found out that George and I were pilots, they invited us in and gave us a seat at the controls.

I read each of the gauges to George and he was impressed that I could read Cyrillic.  All of the gauges were in metric (celsius and meters) and all were quite old.  Some of the gauges had been replaced with modern (Western) gauges that read in psi and feet – talk about confusing!

Later, as we climbed out of the plane, Roscoe shot this photo of me climbing down the stairs.  We see a lot of airplanes here at the airport but most are American and European planes.  And we don’t go out on the tarmac so often; it was a nice break to look at something new.  I hope my pilot friends will enjoy the photos.


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blog update: 40th country visit

In just 6 months since I started this blog it has received over 7,000 hits averaging about 8 to 10 Google and other search engine hits daily.  As I continue to post travel stories taken from my journals and photos from my hard drives, that number is likely to go up.  Since I started tracking IP address traffic in February, we’ve added a new country visit today from Iraq.  This site has now been read by web surfers from 40 different countries.

Just wanted to say “thanks” for taking the time to check out my travel stories and do check back from time to time.


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Stories, posts, reports, photos, videos and all other content on this site is copyright protected © and is the property of Scott Traveler unless otherwise indicated, all rights reserved. Content on this site may not be reproduced without permission from Scott Traveler. My contact information can be found on the home page.

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