Resident Rodent

By , June 18, 2014

Over the weekend we had an uninvited guest.

No one knows when this guest arrived, but about 2:00 Sunday morning, Michelle and Spice got up and started making a racket all around the cabin. When I got up in the morning, it appeared as if we were in the middle of moving—almost every piece of furniture had been pulled out of place. Anything under a counter or other object had been pulled out.

A vole had come to visit, perhaps to stay.

And why shouldn’t it? We offered warmth, dryness, security, a bit of food, and only the slightest chance of danger from the . . . you know, the . . . oh, resident cat!

As far as I’m concerned, Spice has entered a period of probation. She is perilously close to getting voted off the island, if you will. She’d better find a job and start earning her living soon, or she’s out of here.

For years now, she’s nominally justified her presence by being a decent mouser. But, while she loves to hunt, she’s not very skilled at killing, an essential feature of rodent control in my book.

Take our latest visitor. When morning came, the vole remained, often in plain sight. Spice chased it sporadically, after an initial morning inspection, after which she tested to see if it was still alive by patting it gently on the head! She and Michelle tore through the cabin after it, Michelle definitely showing most of the initiative. Spice seemed fascinated by Michelle’s activity, far more than by the vole.

Life began to resemble a cartoon. The vole kept out of their way, climbing up the back of the couch and appearing near my head a few times. After a bit, Spice lost interest. In fact, she cried to be let out on the front porch, ironically enough, to hunt!

We spent most of the day working in the garden. We left the door open in the warm weather, and by afternoon, we assumed the vole had left. After all, some time in the night it had been desperate enough to try to chew a hole through the wall to escape! That afternoon, though, it reappeared calmly wandering around until I got one of my blowguns down from the wall, after which it quickly disappeared.

Giving up on our “mouser,” we set a few traps when we went to bed that evening. We couldn’t let this critter move in on us. One way or another, our new lodger must go.

Late that night, Michelle got up when she heard Spice crying, and found the vole lying in state in the middle of the living room floor, dead at last. We still don’t know if Spice killed it, or if it died of dehydration, or perhaps boredom.

3 Responses to “Resident Rodent”

  1. Gail Woodland says:

    Oh thanks, Mark, for bringing back one of my childhood fears! After watching the 1959 SciFi horror thriller B movie, The Killer Shrews. It started with, “Those who hunt by night will tell you that the wildest and most vicious of all animals is the tiny shrew. The shrew feeds by the dark of the moon. He must eat his own body weight every few hours – or starve! And the shrew devours everything – bones, flesh, marrow, everything! In March, first in Alaska and then invading steadily southward there were reports of a new species – The Giant Killer Shrew!” There were many nights when I was sure I could hear them chewing through my bedroom walls at night. Now you tell me Spice’s vole really did chew through the walls of your humble abode. I guess I should be comforted that it was chewing its way out and not in!

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Gai, that’s funny! We have a lot of shrews around here as well. They’re insectivores, mostly, so we try to leave them alone, although they apparently like popcorn (see Shrews Like Popcorn?) They come into the cabin sometimes for unknown reasons, and the cats kill them. Heck, even Lissa killed some, and she was a definite birder. I’ve been meeting a shrew in the yard a lot lately, don’t exactly know why. Usually, they’re just a tiny gray streak at our feet, but this one’s kind of slow. They’re pretty cute. If I were a bug, I suppose they’d be really frightening, though. Or a popcorn kernel….

  3. Mark Zeiger says:

    Didn’t they make up collies with rubber teeth to make the giant shrews? I read about this movie in The Golden Turkey Awards.

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