Nature & You: Strange bedfellows
Everyone is familiar with that HUGE, fuzzy Oklahoma spider: The tarantula. I realize the sheer enormosity of this eight-legged creature scares the bejeebers out of most people, but count me in as a charter member of the Tarantula Fan Club.
For most of the year, tarantulas are secreted away in underground burrows. Right inside the tunnel entrance, you're as likely as not to find a tiny toad snuggled up underneath the belly of the otherwise-fearsome spider.
Let me introduce you to the narrow-mouthed toad. Sharing a home with such a fearsome roommate is a pretty ingenious way to keep toad-eating predators at bay.
The tarantula, in turn, puts up with the presence of its little amphibian interloper because of the fact that the tiny toad dines on ants. Although the tarantula is big and scary-looking, it needs the help of the toad to keep the pesky ants out of the spider abode.
What I find even more fascinating is the fact that the tiny toad has an "auxiliary eyelid" with which the toad uses to whisk gone-astray ants out of the toad's eyes. I'm taking some liberties here when I refer to it as an eyelid; in truth, it's a floppy piece of extra skin that is situated behind the head; the toad can flick it forward in order to sweep away all of the eye-attacking ants.
Who knew that all of this was going on underneath our feet?