I think the squirrels in northern Mississippi have a genetic disposition to suicide by car. It seems to become a problem of epidemic proportions in the spring. Maybe it is from being cooped up in trees all winter, or the incessant rain that starts in February and lasts until May. Wherever the reason, the little rodents are out in full force just waiting for the unsuspecting motorist to come around the bend or over the nearest hill. At which point they will run into the road, stop right where a wheel will surely smash them flat, and dare the driver to hit them. Or, if they are feeling particularly frisky, they play dodge the car by running out into the road, stopping, waiting for the car to get close, then dodging one way or the other, stopping, waiting and daring the driver to miss them. They must get a real kick out of seeing the panic on the face of the driver as they swerve and slam on the brakes, trying not to run the little beasts over. They probably have parties and laugh themselves silly when a car ends up in a ditch playing dodge the squirrel with them. Cute only goes so far when they play stupid games.
Then, just when the squirrels get distracted with other things, the box tortoise and snapping turtle contingent decides that it is time to find mates – across the road of course. They don’t dare the cars like the squirrels do, nope, they just flat don’t pay attention to anything but the urge to find that woman on the other side of the street. Drivers get to play the guessing game of, “Is that a rock or a turtle?” No one wants to squish a turtle, so the swerving commences, and the occasional thump squish sound is stomach turning. But darn it, they need to start wearing bright orange if they want to cross the road in the dark, where they blend in with the tarmac.
Later come the frogs and toads. Big, little, fat, skinny, loud croaking critters, they always wait until dark to come hopping on the road, right in front of the car, when the driver is going at speed, with no chance to stop. Suicidal as the squirrels, only much less intelligent, the frogs and toads just wait for the bright light to appear before them, then jump right smack into the car. Maybe they think they are seeing a heavenly messenger, but no matter what they think, they get to meet their version of heaven. One would think the shallow end of the their gene pool would empty out, but each generation must breed a whole new crop of brainless creatures since they just keep on coming.
And don’t even get me started on insects… talk about institutional suicide. Spring is in the air, time to play dodge the critters.