The Little Details

The sun was lacking again today so I’m hoping it decides to come out tomorrow. While it was gray almost all day the rain stopped by afternoon. I did a lot of freelance writing today and around 4:30 p.m. decided it was time to take Jazzmin for a walk.

As we walked I was scanning the road for woolly bear caterpillars but I didn’t see a single one. I suppose it was too cold and dreary for them to be out today. There were a variety of nuts squished into the road from car tires. Black walnuts, acorns and other nuts I don’t know were all mushed into pavement butter.

Amid all the nut guts and fallen leaves a familiar shape caught my eye. It was a red eft, the smallest one I’ve ever seen. He was blending in with the stained pavement and staying very still as he thought I was a predator. I wasn’t, but the car I could hear coming around the bend was, so I swiftly picked him up and enclosed him in my hand to carry him to safety. He must have liked the warmth of my hand because he was crawling around inside it until I placed him gently down in the grass.

A short distance down the road I saw another red eft of the same exact size. I was purposely looking for these little details now and I was pleased when I saw him. I carried him to safety as Jazzmin patiently tolerated her mama’s endless critter rescue efforts. I saved one more on the walk back home and it made the whole walk in the dreary weather totally worth it. I’d managed to get some good exercise and make a tiny difference in the world again.

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The Great Red Eft Rescue!

Around this time last year while I was out walking Jazzmin, we came upon these small orange lizard-looking things. I’d never seen them before but I thought they were rather adorable. As I hate seeing creatures squished in the road, I helped the little guys (there were 3 total) across the road.

The 1st red eft I ever saw and saved

When I picked each of them up they stayed very still in my hand and even after I set them back down in the opposite shoulder of the road they acted frozen. My friend who knows more about such creatures than I do, explained that such behavior is common for something that’s prey. They remain still because predators don’t want to eat something that isn’t moving. They really shouldn’t worry, I have no intention of ever eating them.

The 2nd red eft...

The 2nd red eft…

The 3rd and smallest red eft

The 3rd and smallest red eft

After that first encounter with the little red lizard things I learned that they’re actually the juvenile stage of the Eastern/red-spotted newt. In that phase they’re referred to as “red efts” and they look like that until they transition to their adult aquatic phase. I’ve taken it upon myself to help as many as I can cross the road as they move from land to water.

Searching for red efts in the shoulder of the road is a bit tricky this time of year as orange and red leaves fall from trees. Amazing how similar a little folded leaf looks to an eft. I’ve saved a couple this season but obviously I can’t save them all. Looking down at the road I see many small creatures that haven’t made it and that makes me sad. I don’t think huge human automobiles are really included in the natural circle of life.

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A red eft I saved last week

Red efts do secrete a toxin but in order to be affected by it I think I’d have to fry up a whole pan of them for dinner. As I stated earlier, I have no plans on eating them so I think I’m quite safe. Eastern/red-spotted newts aren’t endangered so I’m not suggesting you embark on a red eft rescue too. Helping little creatures across the vast expanse of paved human pathways is my way of making a difference, even if that difference is no bigger than a tiny red eft.