I live on a road with more traffic than perhaps the average road in Paraguay. So, I imagine I encounter more road kill than I might elsewhere. Road kill is a fact of roads. In the States I’m from the countryside, so deer, raccoons, possums, and frogs are the common victims. In Paraguay, it’s a little different. We still have the squashed frogs, toads actually—Paraguay has an interesting toad that is very large and numerous that comes out at night. We call them “sapos.”
In Paraguay, the main road kill victims are…dogs. Yes, domesticated dogs. Now, before your heart breaks remember that dogs in Paraguay are usually kept as guard animals and NOT as pets. So, no child is weeping over the carcasses. Actually, it seems people don’t notice because no one removes the carcasses.
The leaving of dog carcasses on the side of the road is what inspired this post. Perhaps you’ve been unfortunate enough to get a whiff of rotting flesh driving around the States, or perhaps you’ve had a mouse die in your wall. Well, in Paraguay it’s hot so flesh begins to break down right away. The beating sun on the roadside is a special inferno.
Have you ever wondered how long it takes a carcass to disappear? Have you ever wondered if the rate of decomposition is different in different places and climates? Well, I hadn’t until a recent run with two dog carcasses en route.
The answer, at least about the rate of decomposition in my community, is two weeks, more or less. In Paraguay, the sun is cruel. So, it takes care of things. What’s more, in addition to the animal scavengers and bugs you might know about that help with breaking down dead bodies, Paraguay has armies of ants. So many ants. Within two weeks, an average-sized dog carcass will be reduced to a dark patch, maybe with some bones, on the pavement.
I always feel sad for carcasses…I see them a lot here in semi-rural Wisconsin. When deer hunting season starts, it’s a free for all, and when I drive up to central Wisconsin, it’s like there are carcasses every 500 feet. My friend joked that they used to have deer crossing signs but the deer wouldn’t read them so they took them away.