Click photo to enlarge
Crawdads, also known as crayfish and mud bugs, can live outside of water, and crowded conditions can force them inland, where they can burrow into our lawns and landscapes.

DEAR JOAN: At the Lafayette Reservoir, my walking companion and I recently saw a small lobster crossing the asphalt loop path on a journey away from the lake. We decided it was a crawdad. As a gilled creature that lives in freshwater, why was it out for a stroll on land?

T.H.S.

Livermore

DEAR T.H.S.: Crawdads are not like fish and can live out of water. In fact, when the area they're living in gets too crowded, they head inland and live in burrows.

We thought we had problems with raccoons and grubs. Imagine having mudbugs in your lawn.

Holiday hazards

As we head ever closer to Christmas and New Year's, most of our homes have been transformed to celebrate the season.

It's great for us, but it's not the safest environment for our pets. So take heed of these tips offered by East Bay SPCA veterinarian Gwen Gadd, and avoid any emergency trips to the vet's office.

  • Decorations: Never leave your cat or dog unattended with a real Christmas tree within their reach. Needles can become lodged between pet paw pads or get caught in nostrils. They may also be tempted to sample the water, which could make them ill. Artificial is better with pets in the house.

  • Avoid tinsel. If they eat it, it can get caught in their intestines.

  • Secure electrical cords and outlets. Tape tree light cords to the wall and across the floor so dogs and cats don't chew through them, which could lead to electrocution.

  • Poisonous and toxic plants. Holiday plants such as mistletoe, holly, English ivy, lilies and poinsettias are poisonous to pets and should never be within their reach.

  • Candles. Flames or dripping wax can burn your pet, and are a fire hazard if your pet accidentally knocks them over.

  • Snow globes. Some snow globes can contain antifreeze, which is deadly to your pet.

  • Safe holiday snacks: While tempting, it is best to avoid feeding your pet table scraps. Bones can splinter and puncture the stomach and other digestive organs. Indulging in holiday goodies can cause diarrhea and intestinal upsets. Keep some of your pet's favorite treats on hand, instead.

  • Bones and trimmings. Avoid giving your pet bones or fat trimmings. Bones are a hazard and can cause your pet to choke, experience severe pain or worse if lodged in their throat or digestive tract. Fat trimmings are too rich and can cause digestive trouble, or even lead to pancreatitis. Small pieces of lean meat are OK -- but just a little.

  • Chocolate. Chocolate is toxic to our four-legged friends and should be kept out of reach and never fed to animals.

  • Other toxic foods. Other "bad" foods that may appear around the holidays include onions, garlic, raisins, currants, grapes, chocolate and candy, especially those containing xylitol, which is found in many gums.

    Missing dog

    A man is looking for his 9-month-old pit bull, Daisy, who ran into a neighborhood near Arthur Road in Martinez after a car accident Dec. 10.

    The man's car had broken down on Interstate 680 and was on the shoulder of the highway waiting for a tow truck. Another vehicle struck it from behind, injuring the man and his friend.

    In all the chaos, Daisy ran away and hasn't been seen since. Daisy is brindled brown in color with erect ears. She is microchipped but lost her collar.

    If anyone has seen her, please call Martinez Animal Services at 925-335-8330.

    Contact Joan Morris at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.