There are few good reasons to pull a stove away from the wall in anyone’s house. Maybe there’s a portal to a secret dimension where you never grow older or there’s a treasure vault hidden by a bootlegger in decades past. I was simply looking for the stove model # and what I found was horrifying.
Typically the items discovered behind any large appliance include Chinese takeout menus, diamond-grade pasta noodles, the fridge magnet letters X or J and maybe a pet hamster that has long since been eulogized and buried. But what I saw sent me reeling. I wouldn’t even dare take, let alone post a picture. Cast about on the tile behind the stove was a ring of spider appendages that looked like a skeleton poking up through the sand in the desert. Each of the eight, L-shaped, stiff-haired legs measured nearly two inches. Absent were any other body parts. Something big ate this spider. Something big lives behind my stove.
Days later I noticed a conspicuous pile of scat on the floor. It looked like a tiny tootsie roll left in the sun to long. I cleaned it up. The next day there was another. I cleaned that too and like a kid waiting for financial compensation from a tooth fairy, I came out the next morning to see if something had been left behind again. And it had. Not particularly magical.
My dad was visiting that day and I asked if he knew what it was. “That’s skink poop” he said with absolute certainty. It should be noted that not only have I cleaned up his quote for this post, but he is also an expert on the matter.
Days later I spotted the brilliant turquoise tail of a juvenile Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon inexpectatus) zip under the fridge and suddenly it all made sense. I made a deal with the skink – you eat the spiders, I’ll clean up your poop.