Two legs good, a hundred legs bad

I’d never really noticed until now that the word wildlife is made up of two words, and the first of those is ‘wild’. I realise that even saying that is ridiculous, but living in Brazil has highlighted just how un-wild much of British wildlife is.

So I have always seen animals which do not live in the house first and foremost as independent, happy chaps who won’t mess with me if I don’t mess with them. With large animals like horses and cows this involves a healthily large amount of respect on my part, having previously notched up more self-inflicted equine-related injuries than I care to remember. With smaller animals like spiders and wasps, my policy is to avoid them in general, but to catch and remove them from the house by humane means when needs must – if somebody can’t sleep with a spider in the house, the buzzing is really annoying and so on.

Lacraia (image from

So when I saw a centipede (lacraia) heading across our living-room floor at some speed, I marvelled at the emerald green of its head (never seen that before!) and thought I would just let my husband know when he got home that there was a centipede behind the sofa. It was only later on, as I registered a sharp pain in my ankle, that I did some speedy mental arithmetic and arrived at the conclusion that I had chosen the wrong option. After hammering the culprit with my flip flop to prevent a second occurrence, I hopped outside and called my husband away from his chat with our neighbour as shooting pains now featured in the ankle region.

My fears that I had made the wrong centipede decision were confirmed when my husband reminded me that the reason he had previously told me to kill centipedes was because their bites can, in some cases, prove fatal.

Our neighbour’s wife appeared with some alcohol to clean the wound and then some special unidentified paste, only available in the northeast of Brazil, which bore a striking resemblance to a mixture of foundation and grout. Thankfully this helped with the pain.

Their five year old son (complete with all limbs) was also offered as an example of a centipede bite survivor, although he had had to be taken to hospital and had received an injection in his bottom. He was alo able to confirm that the centipede that bit him was, indeed, the same size as him, so that may have been a game-changer.

I turned down my husband’s generous offer to amputate immediately, and thanked our neighbour for her much kinder offer to help me at any point during the night, (I just had to knock on the door), and went to bed feeling sorry for myself. The situation was not helped when I discovered that another one was hiding in the bed clothes. More drama ensued. This time I was quick off the mark with my flip flop and by the time my husband arrived the deed was done. After checking that we didn’t have any more around and about, he kindly left me a bin to be sick into during the night and told me to wake him up if I needed to go to hospital. Extremely reassured and not at all on edge, I fell asleep.

The magic northeastern paste was obviously far more effective than I had given it credit for and I woke up with no pain at all in my ankle – hurray! Note to self – it is better to be safe than sorry in these matters. No animals were harmed in the making of this post*.

*This may not be entirely true.

This post was originally published on the 27th of November 2016 and has been transferred from my previous blog (Brazil from the outside in hosted by Blogger) after some technical difficulties with the site.

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