Sunday, October 22, 2006

Swamp Tour!

So after several years of living in Louisiana, when someone excitedly proposes "Let's go on a Swamp Tour!" it goes over about as well as proposing "Hey, let's go cut ourselves with rusty cans and see if we get tetanus!" Or maybe it's just me. In any case, you can well imagine my lack of enthusiams when our clinic director told us that one of our clients was going to take us on a swamp tour. Oh boy. Can...hardly....wait. This would be my third, and undoubtedly not my last, swamp tour.

And yet, this one rocked the casbah.

A key component to a good tour is that your swamp guide must be a crazy mamma- jamma. On this tour -check and check. In case you can't tell from the picture, our trusty leader is dragging a giant fucking snapping turtle so that us marks can get a better look.

Seriously, do you see the size of that thing?

And yeah, of course they're pretty much endangered. Because if it's cool or scary, some swamp hick probably needs to kill it and turn it into a table lamp or fruit bowl or some shit.

So one things these swamp guys did was buy out an alligator farm so that these older gators could be saved from being eaten. It also allows you to get up close and personal with some gators. And by up close, I mean on a big wooden gang-plank with a waist high railing on the sides.

Here the gators are being fed some chicken. This is one ride where you definitely keep your arms inside.

This is really the best part of the whole tour. This large beaver looking creature is not
a beaver at all.

It is a giant fucking rat.

To be specific, this particular type of rat is known as a Nutria. You might see these on the menu of a NOLA restaurant where it's listed more appetizingly as "swamp rabbit". Now in all fairness, unlike rats that eat refuse, these nutria feed solely on swamp grass, and they are really good at eating it. These things breed so quickly (they can become pregnant a day after giving birth) and they eat so much, they have had a lot to do with the destruction of swamps.

So as crazy swamp man is telling us about these things he says "Now watch, this thing is gonna go from ugly to cute in 3...2...1 " -- and at "1" he hands the giant rat a sucker. And damn it if the sight of giant rat holding a sucker in it's little paws and eating it isn't cute as hell. Because as he's eating that sucker, he starts to look more like a beaver. And then swamp man brings him around for us to pet and he tells us that they are really really soft (they were originally imported to Louisiana for their fur) and aw hell I was sold and I totally pet the thing. Yeah, I pet the rat. HIs name was Mr. Boo for god's sake. How could you not pet Mr. Boo?

And then I started thinking that I would be a total badass with a swamp rat for a pet. Can you imagine taking it for a walk. And then telling people Mr. Boo's a giant rat. Yeah!

Then again, maybe not.

This is a baby gator.

Baby gator made this loud "whah, whah, whah" sound -- and swamp man said that's the sound it makes to call its momma.

You know what every good swamp tour needs? A cougar.
(Shut up Karen!)

Yeah, these crazy swamp people rescued this baby cougar. Surprisingly, it hangs out pretty well both with people and the 15 dogs they've also rescued.

I did not pet the cougar.

Email me if you'd like a picture of me holding the 25 pound gator.

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