Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Wildlife’

Now that wintertime seems to have officially announced its presence here in central Texas, all the outdoor creatures want in…to my house.  Evidently, one day while I was away at work, some critter placed a big, fat “Vacancy” sign over my door.  That’s all it took.  A family of squirrels moved in, a few lizards snuck inside and a small army of rats turned into squatters, all happily nesting together in my attic.

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.  And if you are a rodent, bring all your friends, too!

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. And if you are a rodent, bring all your friends, too!

It wasn’t such a huge deal at first.  I figured, once it warmed up, I’d see about fixing the hole in the soffit filters on the house, trim away the branches that touch or reach the roof and somehow shoo the critters away.  My traitorous house, however, decided to fall apart in exactly the wrong area:  a section of tile around the fireplace came unglued and fell off the wall, leaving a very tiny crack.  This tiny, 1/2 inch space somehow connected to the nether regions of the house and, ultimately, to the attic and outdoors as I could feel a draft coming through the crack.  I didn’t get around to fixing the tile immediately, which was exactly the same amount of time it took for three rats to move in.  Three.  Rats.  In.  My.  House.  Not wanting to become a wildlife landlord, I decided to take action.

You would think the presence of three dogs would deter the rodents or, at the very least, the canines would alert me to the rats presence.  If we were talking about normal pooches, the above would probably be true, but because we are talking about my dogs, none of it is.  I’m beginning to suspect that maybe the “Vacancy” sign was hung by my woofers in an attempt to make new friends.

The first time my dogs saw a rat scuttle by in the wee morning hours, they all looked at me like, “What the heck is that?”  Grimm literally stood still and watched as the rat ran underneath the couch, through his legs and then disappeared into the space under the fireplace.  I’m yelling at them, “Get the rat!  Get the rat!”  Zella finally started sniffing tentatively at the spot where the rodent was last spotted, Grimm followed her lead, and Rufus went and waited by his food bowl in hopes of scoring a second breakfast.

My dogs can coordinate perfectly in order to bite branches off of trees, so how come they can't team up to catch one measly rat?

My dogs can coordinate perfectly in order to bite branches off of trees, so how come they can’t team up to catch one measly rat?

With the second rat sighting, the dogs conducted themselves in a slightly more intimidating manner.  Well, okay…a slightly less embarrassing one.  It was like watching the three stooges–all of them were trying to figure out where the rat went, sniffing like crazy, but they kept bumping into each other in their exuberance.  The rat must have been laughing his little rat ass off at their shenanigans.  Even though all three watched as this rat ran under the refrigerator, instead of guarding the fridge, waiting for the rat’s appearance, they all ran back to the fireplace to see if any new rats would emerge.  Worthless dogs.  I told them I was trading them all in for cats.

Rufus became a little worried about being traded in for a feline model.  So, to up his rat catching game, he started researching how to become an intimidating kitty.

Rufus became a little worried about being traded in for a feline model. So, to improve his rat catching game, he started researching how to become an intimidating kitty.

Because my canines were clearly failing at catching rats, I had to take things into my own hands.  I refused to use chemical warfare for a few reasons: having rats bleed to death or go into convulsions before dying seemed barbaric and cruel; the rats would probably pay back my cruelty if I used such methods by dying in between my walls and causing all kinds of calamity; and my dogs would probably find and ingest the rat bait regardless of how well I hid it, leaving me with high vet bills and/or dead dogs.  On to my next option.

I decided against rat traps because, even though they are more humane than the poison option, waking up to a rodent with a broken back or a crushed face with little proptosed rat eyeballs seemed like the basis of nightmares.  The little rodent bastards were eating my food and generally causing messes, but I couldn’t kill them for it.  I decided to dust off my old Havahart trap, baited it with dog biscuits and peanut butter, and waited.

The first rat was caught the first night I set the trap.  My sister and I drove a mile down the street to a nice wooded area and let him go.  Rat number two was caught a few days later and released into the same area as rat number one.  Rat number three was proving to be the brains of the trio and not falling for the baited trap routine.  I tried bananas (because he sure liked them when they were on the kitchen counter), tortilla chips (again, because the rat tore into the new bag I purchased, probably to eat with his rat salsa) and bread (this little rat had an insatiable appetite)…but no luck.

One rat down, two to go...

One rat down, two to go…

There was one day when I almost caught the rat–he had gone into the trap, but the trap door didn’t close all the way.  I picked the trap up to examine it more closely in order to determine the malfunction.  I did not realize that the rat was still in the trap, hiding under the trigger plate.  As I peered into the front of the trap, this gray blur sped out and launched itself off the front of the trapdoor, right into the midst of three pit bull dogs.  This was probably the safest place for the rat to be as my three knucklehead dogs again became the three stooges, twirling around in circles trying to determine where the rat went.  

While my dogs were dancing around the rat, I was doing a heebee jeebee dance of my own, squealing like a six year old girl.  “Eeeeeeeeh!!!!!  Get the rat…get that bastard!”  By this point, the rat had escaped into parts unknown, leaving bewildered canines and a frazzled human in its wake.  Well played, rat, well played.

Days went by before the last rat finally let down his guard and became my captive.  Again I made the trip to my secret rat dumping ground and released the bugger.  As I drove away, he probably hitched a ride on my car’s rear bumper and is now outside, plotting how to get back inside and commence Operation Rat Revenge.  Good luck with that, rat.  I now have a secret weapon:

"Meow!  I'm a scary kitty cat, and I'm going to eat me some mousies!"

“Meow! I’m a scary kitty cat, and I’m going to eat me some mousies!”

Okay, so my secret weapon isn’t really that threatening, but maybe the rat will at least die from laughing.  Just in case, though, maybe we’ll see how the lizards and squirrels react first.  Then again, maybe not.  They might invite all their friends over for the show, making my house some new vermin version of a nightclub with Rufus as the star attraction.  I think I may need to invest in more Havahart traps…

Rat in a trap

Even captured in a trap, rat number three still looks smug. Probably has a shank hidden in his cheek pouch…

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

What is it about sunshine that makes us feel so vibrant…so renewed?  Sure, it helps that sunshine can stimulate the production of serotonin (the “feel good” hormone) and help regulate our pineal gland, which produces melatonin (the “body clock” hormone).  Of course, it allows us to make Vitamin D and the UV radiation in sunlight causes an increase in endorphins (the “natural opiate”).  If you are like me, though, the warmth of sunshine on your face triggers memories of youth, of being carefree and relaxed, of getting to be almost one with nature.

 

Grimm basks in the spring sunshine.

Grimm basks in the spring sunshine.

 

The dogs love the spring sunshine just as much, or maybe more, than I do. Some of the above biochemical processes may occur in them, too, but with their fur coat, the benefits have to be less.  So why do they love the sunshine as much as me?  Well, for one, it means they get to run around outside and chase the spring bunnies, munch on fresh spring grass and wallow in the mud and wildflowers.  The increase in sunlight causes things that were once dormant to awake and drives the rhythms of life around us.  The canines are mesmerized by the songs and mating antics of the birds and, at times, dive-bombed by the mockingbirds when they get too close to their nests.  The best for them, though, is the proliferation of smells that have invaded their world.

 

 

Zella sits in the wildflowers as she rests in her pursuit of bunnies.

Zella sits in the wildflowers as she rests in her pursuit of bunnies.

 

Spring rains seem to wash the winter drudgery away while the sunshine dries the landscape to perfection.  Textures change daily as growth happens literally overnight.  The buzzing of the bees, the trills of the birds, and the whispering of the wind act in harmony to create a perfect symphony.

 

Charley watches the other dogs as he prepares to saunter into the greenery.

Charley watches the other dogs as he prepares to saunter into the greenery.

 

 

Watching the dogs romp and play in the new spring landscape delights me.  They are as curious about the outside world as we are.  Grimm chases butterflies, Zella rousts rabbits and Charley finds the most delectable blades of grass to nibble on.  Rufus acts like a kid who has entered a magical world–for him, this is his first spring ever.  He had never smelled wildflowers, never tasted the earthiness in a sprig of grass, never before been entranced by a buzzing bee before now.  He has learned the joys of spring and sunshine and mimics his older housemates.

 

 

Rufus and Grimm frolic through the grass, kicking up their heels in almost perfect synchronicity.

Rufus and Grimm frolic through the grass, kicking up their heels in almost perfect synchronicity.

 

The sunshine and beauty of spring has brought a renewal of spirit to all of us at my house, human and canine alike.  The power of the sun has enlivened our world and called forth life.  Now is the time to get out and live it.  Time to act like a kid again and race with the dogs through the wildflowers.  All of you should do the same.  Go outside, enjoy the sun and frolic with your beasts!

 

Grimm leads Rufus in finding more spring-time adventures.

Grimm leads Rufus in finding more spring-time adventures.

 

Read Full Post »

Grimm has been acting a little weird lately.  He constantly scans the perimeter when we’re outside, he refuses to sleep by himself, and he wants to know where we keep the shotgun.  Today, I found out why:

Grimm prepares for the zombie apocalypse.

Turns out, he has been reading about zombies…and worrying about zombies…and secretly preparing for the zombie apocalypse.  He reluctantly showed me his secret horde of things he cannot live without in the midst of a zombie pandemic (and yes, one of the items was one of my flip flops).  Silly dog.  I told him he had more realistic things to worry about, like rabies.

Grimm is not alone in his fear of zombie hordes taking over the world.  Even the Center for Disease Control (CDC)  advises, “Be prepared!”.  With all the hype this year about the end of the world, I guess it never hurts to have a backup plan.

Realistically, though, rabies is still a very valid concern (and this virus does have some similarities to the zombie causing agent…whatever that may be).  Rabies attacks the central nervous system of mammals, causing disease in the brain and eventually, death.  Early symptoms include fever, headache, general malaise and discomfort.  As the disease progresses, hallucinations begin, along with partial paralysis, insomnia, confusion, hypersalivation and hydrophobia.

This sure sounds an awful lot like zombie symptoms–shuffling walk (partial paralysis), constant vigilance (insomnia), drooling (hypersalivation), eating your own family (confusion)–and I have never seen anyone portray a swimming zombie, or, for that matter, one even drinking water (hydrophobia).

Charley laughs at Grimm’s phobia of invading zombie hordes. Charley fears nothing…he is the Chuck Norris of the dog world (even if he is
almost 15 years old–this old dog has skills).

In Texas, and specifically Travis county, rabies continues to be found in both domestic and wild animals.  In 2011 (2012 stats were not yet available), Travis county had 68 confirmed rabid animals and neighboring Williamson county had 136 cases.  Most of these are bats and skunks, but even dogs, cats, horses and cattle test positive in Texas.  Rabies is found in every state except for Hawaii, and people in the U.S. still get rabies.  Vaccinating domestic animals and staying away from ill-acting wildlife remains the best preventative.

Zombie hordes, rabid pets…we humans will have no chance when the apocalypse comes.  Grimm, however, will be prepared.  He’s read Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies by Matt Mogk and The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks;  he practices stealthily moving from place to place;  and he’s been honing his paw-eye coordination with the role playing games on the PlayStation.  Plus, he’s been vaccinated against rabies.  Don’t say you haven’t been warned–what you don’t know CAN eat you.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: