Tiger Salamander In Watford City, North Dakota, Part I

I have written many times in this blog that you can’t go out to bars and restaurants and drink in Watford City because the police will get you for a DUI right away.  Most of the people who have lived in Watford City for several months find this out, one way or another.  Just like you can’t speed or go over the speed limit in Watford City.  Most of the people just stay home.  The restaurants are not very good and the restaurant staff are weird and crazy anyway.  At the apartment complexes, many of the workers just sit in the parking lot in their trucks, listening to music, browsing the internet, or talking on the phone.  I sit in my truck in the parking lot and look at the internet.

On Labor Day I was sitting in my truck at night and I looked out the window and I saw a green & black reptile walking down the road, and I thought, “This is unusual, and kind of pathetic.”  I got out of my truck and shone my flashlight on him, and he stopped.  He was about ten inches long.  I was thinking what to do, when a Watford City Police Officer drove up and asked me what was going on.

I said to the police officer that those people right there have backed up to the dirt pile to get their four-wheeler out of the back of their truck, they don’t have a ramp, me I am trying to figure out what to do with this lizard, come and look at him.  The police officer came and looked at the lizard and said it was not native to North Dakota, someone must have had it as a pet and let it go.  The police officer left.

I took a large plastic salad bowl and put it over top of the lizard while I went to the trash dumpster to get a cardboard box.  I came back with a box and nudged the lizard to get in the box, which he did.  I put him in the backseat of my truck, and I looked him up on the internet.

I read about five articles about him.  He is a Tiger Salamander.  This particular kind that is green with black stripes, is very common in North Dakota.  How do they keep from freezing?  When they get frost on their skin, their liver starts secreting an anti-freeze into their blood stream.  In the winter, they find a place to hibernate deep in the rocks, deep in a dead tree, or in some other animal’s burrow.

In the rainy season, once each year, they walk to the pond where they were born, and try to find a mate.  When it is raining in the Fall, like it was on Labor Day, they go walking to find a good place to stay for the winter.

Where the new apartments are in Watford City, there had been a pond, but everything got changed and moved around.  It looked like this Tiger Salamander could have been at the new retention pond, because he was headed in the opposite direction from the new retention pond.  Everything was now so built up with buildings and roads, I don’t know how he even survived, especially because he was now walking down the street.

Most of the internet articles said that Tiger Salamanders live about twelve to fifteen years, and that they grow up to thirteen inches in length.  They like to eat crickets, worms, and other bugs.  If you keep them in an aquarium, they need at least a fifteen gallon aquarium with both water and dry land.

One website had a bunch of people that were very enthusiastic about Tiger Salamanders.  One woman wrote that she petted one and kissed one, then got sick, the sickest that she had ever been in her life, and that she had to sit on the toilet for several hours, with a garbage can in front of her.  Tiger Salamanders secrete a toxin through their skin which is poisonous, in order to ward off predators.  Eating their tail is supposed to be fatal.

I went looking for worms to feed him, but it was too cold for worms to be out, and I didn’t find any.  I took him in the box up to the apartment.  I took the large cap off of two Gatorade bottles, in one cap I put water, in the other cap I put some pieces of hot dogs, and I put his water and food in his box.  Because he was from North Dakota, I decided to name him Chancey Williams, after Chancey Williams who is a musician who performed at the First On First Dickinson concert this summer.  Yes, that is the correct spelling.  I felt like it was more appropriate to name a poisonous salamander that was walking down the street Chancey, instead of Chauncey anyway.

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