There are no elephants, giraffes, lions, tigers, etc in Egbe, Nigeria. Those kinds of animals were killed off years ago. What they do have are lots of lizards, spiders, cockroaches, scorpions, and snakes. We had been warned to be on alert for such things. After all, this is Africa and the hospital compound sits on the edge of town, right next to the bush. In fact, we had a view of the bush out the windows of the house where we stayed. Here’s a view out the back window of our room that I took at sunrise one day.
Some of our experiences in encountering the “wildlife” of Egbe:
We grew accustomed to lizards during our time in Cambodia, so being surrounded by them here didn’t bother me much. They are generally harmless and I LOVE the fact that they eat insects. Here’s a little guy that Jay held in his hand.
One day I was cutting ceiling material and as I was measuring, a little brown lizard was playing with the shiny part on the end of my tape measure. He must have thought it was food or water. It was really cute, wish I had a video of it! Here’s a picture of me after the lizard left.
Another day, Abby and I heard a strange sound while we were walking. We looked over and saw a lizard trying to climb up a sheet of metal, but it kept slipping. It would take a few steps, then slip back down and try again. It was shuffling its feet furiously, trying so hard to reach the top of that piece of metal. It was hilarious to watch, we couldn’t stop laughing.
There is one lizard in Egbe that creeped me out bit. It’s very colorful, with a bright orange/yellow head and indigo blue body. They are a bit larger than the other lizards here, so when they move around they make a lot more noise. And when they stop moving, they jut their head in and out while doing this push up movement.
We mostly saw spiders in the bathroom. The common spider in Egbe was a big, brown fuzzy spider that was flat enough to squeeze behind and under just about anything.
I was careful to keep my shoes stored vertically and always shake them out before putting them on. This habit paid off one day when a big spider came crawling out one of my shoes as I shook it.
Unfortunately, we had cockroaches in our room on a number of occasions, always at night. The first time I saw one was in the middle of the night, when I got up to go to the bathroom. I killed it with my sandal and decided to just leave it there and back to bed. The next day, it was gone from our room, something had come during the night and ate it. Lesson learned…do not leave big fat cockroaches lying around dead – they will attract any number of critters to come for dinner.
Another night, something crawling up my forearm woke me up. It turned out it was a giant cockroach – yuck! I swatted it off my armed and it landed on the bed and started running all around the sheets. Thankful, Jay was awake by that point and killed it. From that night on, I decided to sleep with my arms below the covers, despite the heat.
During my time cleaning out the tool rooms, I was afraid I would run into a scorpion when moving boxes and things around. Thankfully, I never did.
But one night, while Jay and I were reading in our room, Jay got up and saw a scorpion dragging a cockroach across the room. It was a small one, only a couple inches long. I took this picture after Jay killed it.
The one thing you really have to watch out for in Egbe are snakes. All but one type of snake that resides in the area is poisonous, and many can be deadly if you get bitten and do not get treatment soon after. I always watched carefully where I was stepping – both indoors and out, and made sure to always use a flashlight in the dark.
One night, while Jay and I were reading in our room, I got up to go to the bathroom and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a snake under the bed. I could hardly believe my eyes. I did a double take. There it was, a snake, lying right under the corner of the bed.
I went to get the security guard to come kill it, while Jay stayed in the room and kept an eye on it (there was a guard on duty 24 hrs a day, just outside the house where we stayed). The guard came with a big stick and a flashlight. It took him a number of tries and some hard whacks with the stick, but he had it killed within just a few minutes. Thank you security guard!
Turns out the snake was a carpet viper. And in looking it up online, sounds like it bites more people in Nigeria than any other species of snake.
That night and through the following day, I reflected on God’s protection over our lives. I thought about all the prayers we had prayed for safety during our travels. I thought about our friends and family back home who were praying for us. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for those prayers.