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Wild Animals That Have Adopted Me...

Aug 16, 2008
Part of moving to a new home is adapting yourself to the local flora and fauna, especially if you're going a long distance away from your last residence. It's actually a special kind of culture shock, because the natives will be happy to give you directions around town and set you up with the postal and garbage schedules, but everybody neglects to tell you how to deal with your first crocodile or moose encounter.

The desert was fun for us. In the States, we moved to a quiet little town in Arizona. We hardly had an issue. There was the occasional scorpion or tarantula that found its way into our mobile home, but nothing else major. Lucky I had better sense than to try to catch a roadrunner. I saw plenty of other folks who were only too happy to make a fool of themselves this way, and I can attest that roadrunners have a sense of humor and deliberately run around in circles to make you dizzy.

But when I moved to the mid-western plains of Iowa, that was a different story. The area is positively teeming with life, and we have a pretty rural area, so anything and everything is at least coming up to our porch and likely as not coming right inside.

Probably the most disturbing was the centipede, which, dishearteningly, is called a 'house centipede'. Yes, this huge, icky brown thing with long legs sticking out all over actually prefers your basement. Forget anything you've seen in cartoons; a house centipede looks just like the baby face-hugger monster from the original 'Alien' movie - the one that attacked Kane. They move that fast, too. When you encounter your first house centipede, you will likely be sitting there stewing at 2AM when you catch something horrible darting like lightening across the wall out of the corner of your eye - just enough to make you wonder if you imagined it. But fast and nasty enough that your first immediate instinct is "Kill it now! Before it gets to the children!"

And then you discover that these things are very good at getting away from you. After a couple hours of ransacking the basement, I gave up and forgot about it. But it didn't forget about me. It waited, apparently tracking my movements, for two days until I came downstairs one morning, coffee cup in hand, just waking up, and then it launched itself from the ceiling rafters onto my increasingly-balding head. Two-thousandths of an ounce of enraged anthropoid attempted to devour me alive, but found my skull too hard to bite through so he dodged under my shirt instead while I simultaneously scalded myself with hot coffee, shattered my mug, screamed like a girl, and slapped myself everywhere. I got it, but I had a red bump from its bite for a souvenir which lasted two weeks. Encounter enough house centipedes, and you'll be keeping night-watch in your basement with a flamethrower.

And then there was the bat, discovered in the yard as an apparently dead brown lump of fur. I went for the snow shovel to scoop it up and toss it, figuring it for some random woodland creature who was the half-finished meal of a stray cat. I got within one foot of it when it popped out two leathery wings and raised its head to hiss at me with a mouthful of fangs. Immediately I was ten feet away, but watching it and wondering why it didn't take off.

After it became apparent that it wasn't going to, I realized that it had become my problem; if anybody wanted to use this yard again, the bat would have to go. So I crept up on it and it repeated its act, and this time it flipped itself over on the ground and I beheld two silver, wriggling blobs on it's belly. As if I wasn't grossed out enough already! It turns out, as I retreated to the indoors and Wikipedia, that those were baby bats. It was a mommy. And bats... I still shudder with horror to think of it... lactate, so the babies stay attached to the mother and nurse its little batty nipples and drink its milk. We stayed inside. The next day, the family of three was gone. And everybody I mention this to says, "Good thing you didn't kill it, those bats are endangered." Yeah, and if it comes back to my yard clicking its shiny white rabid fangs at me, it can expect to be endangered a whole lot more. When is the government going to recognize my endangered status?

Most everything else we've met in Iowa isn't as confrontational. Just about anything that hops, climbs, or tunnels, has fur and four legs, and is smaller than a dog has happened by. Opossums, rabbits, chipmunks, skunks, moles, mice, and squirrels. It's the squirrels that are more unnerving, because of their intelligence. That FOX cartoon "Pinky and the Brain" has it all wrong - mice wouldn't take over the world. Squirrels will, as soon as the time is right.

Got a bird feeder? Then you have squirrels. Put it up on a pole? They'll climb it. Suspend it from a wire? They'll slide to it. Put it out in the open? They'll jump up to it. Surround it with booby traps and clever devices? They'll outwit every one of them. We've been having a literal battle of wits with the squirrels, at last prompting me to get a contraption sold from the hardware store in which the bird feeder dangles from a twine which is attached to a hooked pole, and the feeder has a motor in it so that it spins faster and faster whenever anything heavier than a robin settles on it.

It was on the morning when I looked out the window to discover three squirrels working as a commando team to defeat the trap and get the seeds that I realized that squirrels will one day rule the world. One had his hind legs wrapped around the pole while he held the bird feeder steady with his front paws. A second was at the feeder furiously digging the seed out. A third was on the ground, catching all he could. The little red hooligans finished emptying the feeder and divided the pile on the ground up and scampered away, back to the tree where, I assume, they would be watching the World Series on a stolen TV and washing down their lunch with the sixpack of beer that's disappeared out of the neighbor's cooler.

Just be ready to adapt when the time comes, OK? Squirrels will rule the world. When they do, I hope that they can at least save us from the other creatures
About the Author
Jack is the owner of a furniture removalist company in Australia. The company specializes in quality interstate furniture removals. Based on the Gold Coast in Queensland but moving homes nationwide. Quality assured furniture removals company, guaranteed. Moving home Australia wide has never been easier than with Jack and the guys at Mardi Gras furniture removalist
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