Friday, February 14, 2014

Springtime Mystery Critter

We live in a rural area. Or maybe semi-rural, as we can see our neighbors but we're close enough to
forest to enjoy regular appearances by wildlife. Deer, of course (AKA rats on stilts -- yes, I know they're cute but they can devastate a garden in no time flat), raccoons, oppossums, skunks, bobcats, coyotes, various rodents that live in the ground, various non-rodents that live in the ground, various reptiles usually benign but occasionally of the rattle and poison persuasion. A few mountain lions live in the vicinity. They're solitary creatures requiring a large territory, and they generally prefer to leave humans alone, so we don't see them this far "down from the mountain" too often. (There was a recent sighting, so be sure to lock up your cats and dogs at night if you don't want them to become tasty snacks.)

Something has apparently worked its way under our roof, most likely through the heating ducts, and makes loud scrabbling noises. Our house is pretty well critter-proofed after the Great Skunk Mating Stinks (see below as to why I think our new visitor is not a skunk, besides that skunks aren't awfully good climbers). So it's unlikely that anything larger than a mosquito got past our barricades. We have an appointment with a pest control person on Monday. Meanwhile, the cats have become Very Interested in those noises. And we are concerned that the poor thing might perish of thirst. And die. And putrefy. And stink.

Okay, the stinks.

Some years back, the local skunks decided that the crawl space under our house -- under our bedroom, to be specific -- was a dandy place to meet and tussle over who got to mate with whom. The routine goes like this:

squeak! squeak! squeak!

This got old fast. Really fast. Hence, barricading any and all Ways Under The House. Since there have been no repeat performances, but plenty of skunks in our garden and neighborhood, I conclude we were successful.

To be fair, skunks are nice neighbors when they aren't stinking up your bedroom. They aren't destructive and they tend to discourage things that are. One hypothesis for the absence of gophers in our garden is the presence of skunks. They dig nice holes that aerate the soil. They munch on pests. You just have to be vigilant about letting the dog out at dawn and twilight as skunks tend to be most active then. For some reason, getting squirted doesn't deter dogs from going after skunks again.

Banana slugs are another matter entirely. We have tons of those, too. Apparently, a single encounter will put a dog off the notion of chomping on banana slugs for life. It's the gooey gluey mucus, I suppose...

No comments:

Post a Comment