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gila monster

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The Monster

The Monster

It was a rather unusual week at the casa in Catalina, Arizona.  The week started grindingly slow and as we headed into the weedend it was verging on dawdle time. Yes,  there was March Madness time and the tv was airing the pregame hype of the Arizona vs Wisconsin game.  March Madness didn't do much for my search for stories and/or photos, but 8 words would change the story line.  "There is a bobcat in the back yard" gushed my father.   

Wildlife has given us lots of love at the Nevins casa, with sojourns from bobcats, coyote, hawk, deer, javelina (that visit is worth it's own story!), gambel quail (with a troop of little paws).   
A guest had asked my mother why she had not taken down all of the halloween decorations.  That 'decoration' happened to be a roaming tarantula.

With those 8 words, I sprang for my Canon.  John, our company, sprang for his camera and we met on the back deck, eyeing the small palm tree, where the feline had last been seen.  The bobcat leaped onto the back wall and bounded into the neighbors yard. 
My camera, clenched in my hand, the same number of photos available as when I had grabbed camera, a few minutes ago.
I had missed the opportunity.
The Gila Monster Video #1

I knew the 'usual' route of the bobcat and I gave marching orders to John to follow me and we should be able to catch the 'visitor' near the wash.  I zipped down the right side of the house, feet moving quickly from flagstone to flagstone until I veered left, toward the street.  It is always exciting when you are running hard with an expensive camera in hand.  I looked back to see if John was nearby, and saw nothing.   

This animal distraction was perfect timing.  The Arizona Wildcats were getting pasted and I had been avoiding the tv.  Where was John?  I was in position for an award winning photograph(?).  The bobcat came right toward me, just as I expected.  He or she did make a slight change in the usual stroll through the wash and over to the golf course.  I fired off 2 or 3 shots and the fur ball was gone.  John?


Back at the house I heard another 8 words (or something like that).  'There is a Gila Monster in the back yard'.  Ok, 9 words. 

The Gila Monster is one of only a handful of venomous lizards in the world.    They may spend more than 95% of the lives in underground burrows, emerging only to feed and occasionally to bask in the desert sun.  Another reference had indicated up to 98%. 
They are considered a threatened species and are rarely seen above ground.  

A component of Gila monster venom called exendin-4 was recently investigated for treating type-2 diabetes.  This peptide stimulates the secretion of insulin in the presence of elevated blood glucose levels.  It also has the effect of slowing gastric emptying.  Phase 1 clinical studies have recently begun with this exciting experimental drug.

The Gila Monster Video #2

The story unfolded............John did follow me, sort of.  He first used his brain and headed toward the left side of animal house.  Shorter route then going right.  Sounds good on paper but there is no real passage on this side of the house.  The 5 million watt AC sits square in the way of about anything except maybe a Gila Monster, or other small critter.  He crossed paths with the monster and that got his attention.  Forget the bobcat.  I would never have come across the Gila Monster, even if he/she had been on that side of the house for the next 10 years.  The odds?

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