I feel the need, both as victim and human ex-pat guinea pig, to share with everyone some of the silent avengers of Panama. Not talking politics, business or taxes, but those avengers of the wild, which includes my “garden”.
The first and in my mind the most annoying of the avenger species is the biting ant. These tiny avengers may not seem like much at first glance, but just stand near one for a moment and you will realize their minute stature is nothing compared to the bite they inflict. Ants are everywhere. They strut down the sidewalks in Army fashion. They build homes in the dirt, waiting for the unsuspecting bare flesh of a flip flip wearing human. They climb the stalks and branches of various plants, plotting the demise of any human hand that may touch said branch. They also drop from the leaves, branches and fences as if the sky were raining ants and climb about on your shoulders, taking painful bites as they stroll along. What does one do about ants? That is a wonderful question that I would love to hear some comments on. In the meantime, I highly suggest wearing long pants and boots if you plan on walking through my garden or any other undeveloped location. If you see their Army on the sidewalk, stay clear and the rest of the time do as I do. Grin and bear it until I can find running water to rinse their tiny souls away to ant purgatory and help diminish the pain they have inflicted upon me.
Mice are a pain no matter where you live and Panama is no exception as they seem to highly enjoy our tropical weather. They find their way into pantries digging through dry goods that are not theirs. They build nests in unused spaces, slip under door jambs and run along rafters. In Panama most homes are built with not only open floor plans, but open ventilation to enhance the natural breeze and create a flow of fresh air. This also seems to be an invitation to mice, although I guarantee it is not a welcome one. Let me just suffice it to say, they were here first and they aren’t going anywhere. The best thing you can do it mouse proof your house. This means keeping all dry goods in sealed containers to prohibit pilfering. I use the fridge for this purpose, as the mice have not learned to open the door as of this writing. Try to keep floor spaces clear of hiding places. This means doing the laundry more often than I would like (before it piles up on the floor) and moving storage items frequently. I also highly recommend adopting a cat from one of your local neighbors or a rescue group. My cat Cali does more in the rodent department than I could ever expect to accomplish. Below are a list of various rescue organizations. If you know of a group not listed please add a comment with their link and I will update this post as I receive new information.
Slither they do. Snakes love the jungle and well, I hate to break it to you, but Panama is a jungle. Many of the snakes you might encounter are harmless, just looking for the aforementioned mouse, but that does not mean you should play, taunt or otherwise become involved in their lives. There is one snake in particular, the Fer-de-Lance, or el Terciopelo which is a member of the viper family, that is particularly dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. This is the most common form of the viper found in Panama, especially in low land areas and plantations.
To see a short video about this snake check out the link below:
There are actually seven different poisonous species found in Panama, so please just avoid any and all snakes you may find. The best advice against snakes, again, wear boots when walking through undeveloped locations and never stick your hand in a dark crevice, ditch or hole.
So a nuclear bomb goes off, what will still be living? Yes, the cockroach. No silent avenger story can be told without mention of the creepy bug that makes this girl scream like a school girl and cry for the Bygon, Raid or whatever chemical the professionals have designed to kill off these annoying creatures. I must admit, even living three blocks from the ocean with an open house I rarely see my nemesis. They fly, just like in New Orleans, and are just as big, but they just don’t seem to have the population numbers. Thank you Panama! If a nuclear bomb won’t kill them, either will the human race, but once again I must mention my cat Cali. Not only does she keep her place in the family by hunting mice, she also hunts cockroaches. Just another reason to adopt a cat!
Don’t be intimated by this article. We have silent avengers, but they are for the most part just part of the scenery. Life in Panama is not an every day battle against them, just something to be aware of and to consider when making plans to hike, build a house, do laundry or leave out leftovers.