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What's in Your Mailbox - Mailbox Infestations and More, Part 3 Cold and Clammy

Updated on April 26, 2015
Mel Carriere profile image

Although many are mystified by his mysterious moniker, Mel Carriere is a San Diego mailman who writes about the mail, among other things.

I'm not trying to claim I've seen turtles in mail boxes but a turtle or two has crossed my path while on my mail delivery rounds.
I'm not trying to claim I've seen turtles in mail boxes but a turtle or two has crossed my path while on my mail delivery rounds. | Source

What's the Mailman to do when the Yard Art Moves?

Yard Art - Who doesn't love Yard Art? Bearded, pointy-hat gnomes guarding flower pots, Saint Francis cradling the dove of peace gently in his arms, philosophical fairies seated beneath trees on stone benches contemplating their pointed feet, and mischievous winged cherubim peeing into a fountain. I'll agree that some of it is a little tacky but for the most part yard art is just fun and playful stuff.

Where it becomes problematic for the rank and file letter carrier, however, is when the yard art is not yard art at all but turns out to be the real thing. For instance, I have come across hundreds of dog statues adorning American doorsteps. Some of these are so realistic that I have actually seen the tell-tale burnt orange stains of postal-issued dog spray splattered across a few, something that was probably done as a precautionary measure by some jittery mailman. But every now and then the yard art growls, springs up from the statue like pose from where it was lying in ambush, and begins chasing the letter carrier out of the yard. Yes, yard art is fun and playful but it can become a danger to life and limb.

Not too long ago I had my own experience with mobile yard art. Above this paragraph you see what appears to be a statue of a turtle, carved out in intricate, stunning detail. I happened across this superbly crafted work as I was on my way to drop mail for the home where it stood, and I almost fell backward in my haste to get away when the yard art's legs started moving and it began to slowly ambulate across the grass toward me. Not once in my postal career had I ever come across a guard turtle, and to compound my shock and terror a second later its companion Chihuahua bodyguard came yapping out of the house to investigate what was disturbing its sluggish, cold blooded companion.

The purpose of introducing this article with the terrible tale of this turtle of terror is to alert the American public to the existence of certain cold-blooded horrors that lurk within their mail boxes. I am speaking of those slimy, scaly, creeping and crawling things that give letter carriers nightmares and make them wake up screaming in horror, bathed in sweat equally as cold as the blood of the mailbox monsters that beleaguer them.

I am not trying to suggest that I have ever come across a turtle in a mailbox, nor has anybody else I have met to date. That's not to say it won't happen, though, and the public should be made aware that any moment now some enterprising terrapin might find its way into your letter receptacle. I, for one, would not want to have to deal with trying to pull my letters out from beneath the scaly, muddy feet of some angry snapping turtle, so stay alert!

Brief Recap

This article is part three of a four part series that began when I posted the following query on a letter carrier Facebook group page:

Source

I have divided the responses from my letter carrier kith and kin into four categories, so that as of this writing the series will consist of four segments. These are:

1. Creepy Crawlies - Part one dealt with beasts having six, eight legs or more

2. Warm and Fuzzies - Part two focused on warm-blooded, mostly furry mammalian creatures that take refuge in or around your mail receptacle

3. Cold and Clammy - This current installment is about our cold-blooded friends, meaning reptiles or amphibians either alive or dead that have been found hunkering down on top of your bank statements and magazines

4. Homo sapien horrors - Saving the best for last. Part 4 will concern anything generated by a human being - either created by human hands or coming out of the human body.


During the legendary plagues of Egypt, the Pharoah's mail sometimes wound up covered in frogs.
During the legendary plagues of Egypt, the Pharoah's mail sometimes wound up covered in frogs. | Source

Frogs - A Mailbox Plague of Biblical Proportions

Letter Carriers across America can barely get through a day without being exposed to some postal customer croaking about late or inaccurate mail delivery, but imagine what happens when the croaking is not coming from Mr. Smith complaining about his Social Security check being delivered to Mrs. Watson next door, but instead is issuing forth from the mailbox itself! This could get weird and creepy really fast, and is exactly what happened to Victor in Orlando Florida, who found the frogs you see above resting atop the letters in a mailbox. The little peepers had apparently confused them for lily pads.

Although frog mailbox infestations are not generally a problem in most of the country, the damp depths of Dixieland seem to suffer in particular from amphibious invasions, to an extreme that nearly rivals the second biblical plague of Egypt, when the river was made to "...bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into your house, into your bedroom, on your bed, into the houses of your servants, on your people, into your ovens, and into your kneading bowls. (Exodus 8:3 NKJV)." Moses does not mention mailboxes in this paragraph, but I'm sure the Pharoah's electric bill was stained by slimy frog feet.

Letter Carriers across the swampy south give the frog plague mixed reviews. Victor from the paragraph above states quite plainly, "I hate frogs," whereas Sherrie in Shaw, Mississippi says "Those are those cute little green frogs. I love them." One man's pestilence is another man's pet.

Many a disposable lizard tail has disappeared in a letter carrier's rush to be away from these mailbox-invading fiends.
Many a disposable lizard tail has disappeared in a letter carrier's rush to be away from these mailbox-invading fiends. | Source
Lizards sometimes like to get frisky on mailbox poles.
Lizards sometimes like to get frisky on mailbox poles. | Source

Leaping Lizards

Besides frogs, the trans Mason-Dixon region is home to other slimy cold-blooded creatures. Fortunately for our postal friends, the legendary gators that slither and swish their scaly tails across the swampy southern landscape will not fit into most mailboxes, but I have heard tales of letter carriers stumbling across them on the way to a mailbox. There are, however, plenty of miniature gators that are problematic enough for Dixie mailmen. On this subject of lizards, Cynthia in Mobile, Alabama very eloquently states:

"They are very common here. I see at least one a day if not more. They always startle me as I startle them and we both panic. I can't tell you how many of them have lost their tail due to me slamming the door shut as I vacate the premises. The creepiest thing is seeing their tails wiggling all over the curbside..."

Don't worry animal lovers. Mailbox-dwelling lizards are now able to order new snap-on tails from Amazon and receive them even on Sundays via seven day delivery.

These days scientists tell us that birds come from lizards and I think Mike in Pflugerville Texas will attest to this. During the course of his delivery rounds the leaping lizards on Mike's route often try to get airborne and jump into his delivery truck. Mike says: "I have a ton of little lizards in my boxes sometime they jump out of box into LLV."

Whether on land, water or air lizards and other cold-blooded critters do their best to keep the American letter carrier from the swift completion of his or her appointed rounds.


Source
This mailbox seems to be sending out a false message to wayward, homeless reptiles; advertising itself as some sort of roadside snake motel.
This mailbox seems to be sending out a false message to wayward, homeless reptiles; advertising itself as some sort of roadside snake motel. | Source

Snakes - Wanted Dead or Alive

Other than letters and cats, snakes are by far the most numerous item to be found inside the friendly blue collection boxes that used to be on every street corner but now have almost gone the way of the dinosaurs that sired our cold-blooded mailbox creeps. I don't think the postal service has conducted any density tests on this, but I would be willing to bet that most carriers who regularly pick up collection boxes have found at least one snake, either alive or dead, inside a collection box during the course of their careers.

Snakes seem to illicit impassioned use of the English language among mailmen. A strong reaction to reptiles sometimes even draws out harsh, almost unprintable four letter words. For example, when Debbie from Raytown, Missouri heard about a snake being found in a collection box her reaction was "...ewww," which I think sums up the gravity of the situation better than I could with a bunch of pretty words. Mail-lady Cassandra from an undisclosed location exclaimed "Ughh," when she found multiple snakes in a mailbox.

Apparently collection boxes across America are sometimes mistaken either for trash receptacles or deposit boxes, which is an understandable error. I suppose if the nearly foot high Eagle logo framed with the bold words UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE are somehow missed then the chute on the top could be taken for the flap on a garbage pail or maybe a bank's overnight drop box, even though as far as I know no lucky letter carrier has found significant amounts of money inside one yet. Anyhow, disposable items are constantly being encountered in collection boxes, and this includes disposable reptiles, like dead boa constrictors. Scott in Worcester, Massachusetts speaks of a "dead, six foot boa constrictor" being found in a collection box in front of a pet shop. Is it possible that some pet shop patron, frustrated with the immobile snake's lack of ability to do neat tricks like swallow a water buffalo whole mistook the collection box for the store's overnight merchandise return box?

Indeed, mailboxes seem to be the place where nine out of ten reptiles surveyed prefer to go when they die. Karen in Loveland, Colorado found a dead snake in a mailbox. GJ right here in my town of San Diego upped the ante a bit by finding a dead rattlesnake inside of one. Worse yet, Steven in Anacortes, Washington stumbled across a live 13 inch Diamondback Rattlesnake inside of a mailbox. Top that one, if you dare!

Be they dead or be they alive, snakes and the US Mail have certain philosophical differences that often make them incompatible.
Be they dead or be they alive, snakes and the US Mail have certain philosophical differences that often make them incompatible. | Source

Cold and Clammy Horrors - You Decide

Which cold-blooded mailbox invader freaks you out the most?

See results

Conclusion - Basking on my Philosopher's Stone

So now I sit here safe in my backyard, basking reptile-like in the sun atop my Philosopher's Stone, trying to warm up the cold blood in my own sluggish brain as I attempt to think of a tidy moral to sum up this story. Over there on the retaining wall some fence lizards are doing push ups. They don't bother me because they don't hiss, croak, or rattle, they don't take flying leaps in my direction and they don't crawl into my mailbox. But sitting on the patio is my wife's stone-cold blooded yard art turtle, and although it may only be the heat getting to my head I swear that its hind leg just moved...

Yard Art or Mailman-Munching nightmare?  You make the call.  Choose wisely.
Yard Art or Mailman-Munching nightmare? You make the call. Choose wisely. | Source

For Goodness Snakes - What do You Think?

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    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      24 months ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Irvin. We have a mailman turtle in our office named Michaelangelo. He actually resembles a turtle, but he is no ninja, lacking the mask and staff. Thanks for reading.

    • Irvin Watson profile image

      Irvin Watson 

      24 months ago from Mainland, Western Australia, Australia

      I was once chased off a property by a great Guardian Turtle. He had a bō staff and insisted that his name was Donatello...

      All that to say: your article brought a smile to my face, along with a few fond memories.

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      3 years ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Fire8storm. Here in the US there are a multitude of different types of mailboxes and a multitude of horrors within. Thanks for reading!

    • profile image

      Fire8storm 

      3 years ago

      This had me giggling. Mailboxes are not a big feature here in the UK and I had no idea of the hazards and horrors they could hold! I now have numerous highly amusing images in my head of your encounters - thank you, great Hub!

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      3 years ago from San Diego California

      mary615 I love dogs. Sometimes they are a problem, but many love the mailman. This particular segment was only about reptiles and other cold bloods, but if you want spiders I invite you to read Part One. There should be a link on this page. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      3 years ago from Florida

      I can understand how lizards get into mailboxes, but a turtle?? You don't mention spiders being in mailboxes, but I'll just bet they make their home in them, too.

      I'd be more afraid of the dogs you must encounter than the critters!!

    • Randall Guinn profile image

      Randall Guinn 

      4 years ago from Pinellas Park, Florida

      I meant a ticking package. That would be more scary to me than any critters. I like most animals any way.

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from San Diego California

      I haven't heard of a ticking mailbox yet, but I suppose it is a possibility. Great story about the Mockingbird. I have heard them mimicking car alarms. Thanks for dropping in!

    • Randall Guinn profile image

      Randall Guinn 

      4 years ago from Pinellas Park, Florida

      I was once working with a contractor who kept getting a call on his car phone. He would go to answer it, only to find a dial tone. It took a while, but he finally figured out that a mockingbird had learned to mimick his ring tone. I would be more worried about the boxes that go tick tick tick. Interesting hub!

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Deb. Lately in our early fall warm spell I have been seeing more creepy crawlies in mail boxes than ever, but fortunately no snakes yet. Thanks for dropping in!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I have no doubt that you find snakes in boxes. As warm as some of those can get, they are pretty inviting. As always, great insight into the life of a carrier.

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from San Diego California

      Pawpawrites there is not enough time in the day to become bored with this job. Frustrated, discouraged, emotionally drained and discouraged perhaps, but never bored. Thanks for checking in.

    • Pawpawwrites profile image

      Jim 

      4 years ago from Kansas

      That would keep the job from becoming boring at least.

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from San Diego California

      Thank you DDE I am glad you noticed and enjoyed my "uniqueness." Your comments are always very encouraging and I appreciate your visits.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Unbelievable! I am quite stunned of what one can actually find in the mailbox. You have a unique way of writing. Voted up, useful and interesting and shared.

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from San Diego California

      Sheila Myers I think we have all unleashed a shrill shriek of terror after opening up a mailbox and finding something unexpected in there, even us masculine types, who are, supposed to be fearless. Thanks for dropping in!

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 

      4 years ago

      If I opened my mailbox and found any of those things, any of my neighbors within a half a mile would probably hear me scream. Frogs and lizards don't bother me, but it would just be the surprise of it being there. A snake on the other hand would have me freaking out. I don't mind snakes as long as they stay in "normal" places. You said you've never found a turtle in a mailbox. I can only hope no one ever tried to prank any mailman by putting a little snapping turtle in there.

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from San Diego California

      goatfury I don't think I have ever tripped over one of those Garden Zombies. I will keep my eyes open for one, especially now that Halloween is approaching. Thanks for dropping in!

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Alicia C. I am grateful to the letter carriers around the country who contributed these anecdotes of their experiences. I appreciate you dropping in!

    • goatfury profile image

      Andrew Smith 

      4 years ago from Richmond, VA

      I think the only thing I've ever owned that could possibly belong on a list like this would be one of those "garden zombies." Those things are great!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is interesting, entertaining and enjoyable, Mel. I love your series about unusual mailbox contents!

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from San Diego California

      Thank you MizBejabbers. I never knew that there was a symbiotic relationship between turtles and chihuahuas but I learn amazing new things every day. Thanks for dropping in!

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from San Diego California

      You are quite welcome breakfastpop. Don't worry, I would never harm any of your six legged breakfast companions if I found them in a mailbox. Thanks for dropping in!

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Jodah. I suppose down undah mail men are not immune from mailbox mayhem. I appreciate you dropping in!

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James-MizBejabbers 

      4 years ago from Beautiful South

      That is so funny. May you always be protected from terrifying terrapins and chihuahuas! People are usually cautioned about planting flowering vines and other large plants like roses around their mailboxes because they attract wasps and bees. That becomes an insurance liability when a mail carrier gets stung. It seems all my neighbors, with the exception of the guy who has brick stand with a Razorback hog on top, do this. You can deliver mail safely to my plain mailbox on a wooden stand because whoever poured the concrete didn't leave me any room to plant a flowering posy. Voted up and funny.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 

      4 years ago

      Thank you, Mel. I am now afraid of my mailbox!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Mel, interesting hub. I have often been to collect my mail and opened the mailbox lid to find frogs and the occasional spider.....but no snakes yet thank goodness. Voted up.

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Old Poolman. Being in Arizona you might not have seen any gators in pools but you've probably come across a few rattles and other weird things. Thanks for reading!

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 

      4 years ago

      Having been in the Telephone industry for 25 years, and then in the swimming pool service industry for almost that long I can easily relate to the "critters" one can encounter in peoples yards. I have had my share of close calls with less than friendly dogs and such.

      I'm relatively sure the postal workers learn to look before they stick their hands into a mail box. I have had a few encounters with rattlesnakes and can't say that is much fun.

      Interesting hub to say the least and I am looking forward to the next one.

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Bill for dropping in. My Father is a retired educator, so I know people of your profession see some things that would probably curdle the blood. I always appreciate your visits.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      At one time I wanted to be a mail carrier. After reading your articles, I'm sure glad I decided on teaching. :)

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