So let’s discuss the interaction I have with animals (barring food) on a daily basis.
Though we have wild cats, it’s the wild dogs that are by far more impressive. The run around in motley packs claiming territory and fighting off other packs. In some places the dogs are pretty bad and we have to carry rocks with us. We also have to be careful biking past them when we’re riding bikes. I haven’t really been attacked by strange dogs yet but other people have.
Though it’s rare to ‘have pets’, many people keep dogs on the property and feed them. They are excellent for protection and I’ve even seen some that have been trained (trained/allowed) to herd the cattle. My host family has two dogs: Tiger, a dark sandy colored female, and Blackie, a long black haired male. They love it when I come out of my house at night (that’s usually when they’re awake) and they follow me around the compound.
Household Creepy Crawlies
Centipede bites hurt. Luckily I have not yet received one but I hear that they hurt. A lot. For days. The centipedes grow to about a foot in length and like to get into things like sheets and clothes lying on the floor. I once picked up my bag and one fell out. I very calmly and deftly smashed it into bits with my hammer. After leaving it on the floor for a good twenty minutes to make sure that it was indeed dead, I threw the pieces outside.
An invasive species brought over on boats forever ago. The snails look awesome. Like everything else, they’re much larger than they should be. However, I’ve heard that they can carry meningitis and so decided that they must be killed. Never having tried the salt on the snail trick as a child, I thought, why not? and found it to be ideal (if you can get over the shrill sizzling noises that sounds awfully close to a miniscule scream). The snails curl up into their shells and die and you avoid the mess that would result from smashing them.
Yes, real bedbugs; tiny little bugs that bite you in your sleep. Can be taken care of by periodically leaving the mattress outside in the sun (harder to do in the rainy season) and spraying it down with bug spray.
Mosquitoes are everywhere. We wear bug repellent all the time and sleep either under a mosquito net or with a mosquito coil burning. Though there is no malaria in Samoa, there is dengue fever. You won’t die but it still sucks.
Spiders and Geckos
These two are always welcome in my house. Geckos poop everywhere and the spiders can be as large as my hand but they eat the mosquitoes.
Ants are pretty much ever present and if you leave any food out they will get into it. However, they don’t carry disease so they’re easy to live with. I usually spray around the house every so often to keep them in check.
The only things I really have issue with are the mice. And by mice I probably mean rats because these things are huge. I saw a picture of a Polynesian rat and it looks very similar to what I have but I shall call them mice because saying I have mice in my house is one thing, saying I have rats only seems to compound the problem. Sooner or later the mice will learn that you keep food in your house and will make attempts to move in. I have found it a constant battle. Luckily my host mother and I have joined forces in the fight to eradicate mice from the compound. We have been using poison and have recently expanded our tactics to include glue traps. For some time I’ve been frustrated because all of the poison was getting eaten and I was not seeing any of the fruits of my labor (though the fact that my house is not full of dead mice is probably a good thing). I’m sure the intruders had met their doom somewhere out in the plantation but there had been no confirmed kills. However, just this week, I came across a twitching mouse in the hallway of the main house. I couldn’t contain my excitement. I ran outside to tell my host mother: “Fiasiumu, we got one!” She quickly came around to the back of the house. I swept or rather used a broom to roll the mouse out behind the car port where she promptly threw a rock at its head. Sweet, sweet victory.