Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Rats

Spring has sprung here along with baby bunnies small enough to fit in the palm of the hand.  A litter of them pops in and out from under my haystack every morning.  The bunnies hang out with the quail and round-tailed ground squirrels.  Each time I step outside, a flock of them scatters.  I think it's so cute how the squirrels run along with the bunnies for safety.  One day I saw a coyote trotting around my round pen with a dead rabbit in his mouth.  I'm keeping an eye out for snakes, but haven't seen any yet.  The nuisances of the week are biting ants, bees, and rats.

The reason why I call them "the nuisances of the week" is because the wildlife comes and goes in waves all throughout the spring and summer.  By the time we figure out which animals are causing the latest round of problems, they've moved on and we are stuck cleaning up the damage, telling ourselves we will catch it before it happens next year.

The bees are a concern because it's that time of year when stories are cropping up in the news about people and animals being attacked and sometimes even killed by swarms of bees.  I took a walk in the desert to keep my strength up one day when I saw some interesting flowers down in an arroyo.  I saw footprints and bicycle tire prints going up that way, so I thought it would be okay to hike down there.  As I moved further and further up this gully, I found myself collecting a cloud of bees, so I quietly turned back and they quietly dissipated.  I don't know enough about different strains of bees and their behaviors, but I didn't want to take any chances.

One night my daughter pointed out that there was a scratching and gnawing sound in the wall behind her bathroom.  She said she thought it was just the hot water causing the pipes to creak and crack at first, but the noise has been keeping her up at night and goes on much longer than the pipes should be creaking after taking a shower.

We went outside with a flashlight to investigate.  I opened the door to the water closet and a big rat ran past me.  I tried to scare it out, but couldn't, so we set some rat poison in the closet.  The next day all the poison was gone and the tray was filled with plaster from our walls.  Apparently, there is a whole family of rats in there, because the gnawing and scratching has gone on for several nights beyond the poison disappearing.

Then this morning I found Bombay acting like he had a tummy ache.  I looked into his feed barrel to see if he ate his breakfast, and I found a dead rat.  I knew it was fortunate that the rat ended up in Bombay's feed barrel, because he's a slow and picky eater who would eat around foreign matter, while the other three horses would have just wolfed everything down in one bite.  I wasn't sure if the rat was already in his feed, if it crawled into the barrel, or if the ravens dropped it in there.  I'm still finding dog bones and dead rodents dropped in the barn by the ravens on a fairly regular basis.  I've asked them to stop doing that, explaining that my horses are herbivores, but the ravens and I haven't worked out a common language yet.

Whenever people visit my place for the first time, they are often awed by all the wildlife activity.  A while back I had someone over and one of the ravens flew down next to us and started dipping a stick in the water bowl.  My visitor paused talking and watched the raven in amazement.  I figured he got quiet and held still because he didn't want to scare it away.  I said, "That's my raven buddy.  He's comfortable around people."  And the raven was kind enough to hang out a little longer with us.

I've also had a few people comment on how friendly and playful my horses are.  They have a lot of personality and are inventive in playing games.  They even play games with the ravens.  I suspect someday soon I will have a language worked out with those birds, and maybe then they can explain the rules to me so that I can play too.  After that, perhaps I can start a new game with them and call it "Catch the Rats in the Water Closet."

4 comments:

Crystal said...

I sure am not a fan of ravens, we don't have many around here and I am glad of that. Although if I could talk to them and ask them to catch all the mice and gophers around might not be so bad.

Cheryl Ann said...

We hear gnawing and scratching in our walls, but with 2 dogs and 2 outdoor cats, wouldn't poison be a problem for them? We tried glue traps and I caught 1 bird and 2 geckos...sigh...
Cheryl Ann

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

In this case, the location of the poison was in a closed outdoor closet, so no domestic animals could get to it. I sometimes wish I could get a cat that is a mouser, but I'm severely allergic to cat dander. Traps catching the wrong animals is definitely a problem. That's what I mean when I often say "every solution creates new problems" or "nothing is ever as simple as it seems."

achieve1dream said...

They make a poison that won't hurt dogs. It's green but I forget what it's called. I always put it where they couldn't reach it but I was worried they would eat the dead mice and be poisoned that way. Luckily they never did although one day Jackal carried a dead mouse to me and dropped it on the couch next to me. I think my screaming scared him so bad he never touched another one lol!