Tag Archives: pests

Battling Nature–Mice and rats and skunks–Oh My!


Every now and then, a rustle in the kitchen indicates that we have become hosts to mice. Most generally they are small field mice, although once or twice a bigger rat will somehow find a way in. We keep little food that is not in closed containers, so there really isn’t much in the way of cuisine for them, but I suppose the underwear drawer does provide nicer bedding than the great outdoors.


Up until recently, we had a cat and when a rustle alerted us to the presence, in came the cat who took care of the problem within a day or two. Our cat was poisoned, so we have gone to traditional spring mousetrap for extermination purposes inside. Baited with a little peanut butter and it’s a near sure thing. There really is no need to invent a better mousetrap after all. In my experience, there is no reason for the so called more humane live trap. A mouse released into the wild will find its way back in.

cat mouse

We have some problems with mice and rats outside in the animal feed area and garden. Previously, as I mentioned, we had a cat who kept rodent visitors under control. But since our cats are no more, both Kitty and Kitty 2 having been poisoned, and Licorice Whip and Jelly Bean the kittens are still too little to be much of a threat, we try our best to root out nests ourselves.

Some of the rats are gopher sized. Really. We have discovered that the cow-barn guy, the neighbor, fattens his cows with hormonally enhanced feed. It’s no surprise that since rats like corn just as much as cows, they become super-sized as well. The first time I saw one scurry across the barda (wall) I thought “Of my God! It’s a ROUS! (Rodent of Unusual Size) like in the Princess Bride.” Of course, Wesley isn’t anywhere near to save me and my animals, and we have lost numerous pollitos (chicks), patitos (ducklings) and conejitos (bunnies) to the ROUS that lives off the neighbor’s feed.

recovering kitty

Recovering from her first attempted poisoning.

We have theorized that our cats were unintentional victims of the neighbor’s attempts at extermination. Perhaps he too saw the ROUS one day and then put out the poison. The mice ate the poison and stumbled to our side of the wall where our cats pounced on them as easy snacks. We were able to save Kitty 2 from poisoning by chance once. She had been served a great treat of goat’s milk in the morning, prior to her eating the poisoned mouse. And although it was touch and go for a bit, the milk had coated her stomach enough that she vomited the rat out and was saved that day, only to die by poison a few weeks later.

It seems to me, that as cats are the natural predators of mice, that a better solution to the rodent problem would be for the cow-barn guy to keep a few cats instead of putting out any poison. But hey, what do I know? I’m just a gringa after all.


Hiding behind Cocoa’s dog house


Yep, we have skunks. Well, to be more specific, La Yacata has skunks. And they aren’t little. The last one we spotted as it climbed a stone wall, was nearly 3 feet long. Yikes!

We did have a skunk visitor, briefly. One early morning, we went outside to feed the livestock and there it was. A baby spotted skunk. The puppies wouldn’t have anything to do with it. So it was up to us to disinvite baby skunky. We chased it about the yard a bit, screaming and terrifying it. We can’t have skunks living in the back yard. Skunks eat baby chicks, baby rabbits, and eggs, besides having a naturally offensive odor. My husband managed to smack its leg with a rake, and it bolted out the gate, not to be seen henceforth. End of story.




Filed under Animal Husbandry, Battling Nature

Battling Nature–Lizards and snakes

lizard on the wall

Lizards are abundant in La Yacata, probably due to the fact that it is desert-like most of the year. Lizards, I have discovered, are not to be feared, although they do startle one at times, especially when answering the call of nature in the great outdoors. Their movements resemble that of snakes, which are to be feared.

My mother-in-law used to insist that lizards are dangerous and have been known to crawl up inside of women while they are sleeping. I’m not sure how true this is, however, just to be on the safe side, I, at least, will be wearing underwear wherever there is a plethora of lizards crawling about.


No desert is complete without snakes. One day, just arriving home from school, I heard quite a commotion outside with the chickens, and went to investigate. Suddenly, I heard hissing amidst the frantic clucking and lo and behold, a long, silver snake was trying to get at some eggs the hens had laid outside the fence. Apparently, it was one of the poisonous types, although I did not get close enough for positive identification. My husband snatched up a garden rake and machete and did some fancy dancing before finally trapping its head in the rake rungs and chopping it off. The icy cold adrenaline rush from close encounters with one of these is not pleasant.

I know that snakes keep down rodent and other small annoying mammal population, but once it has crossed into our yard, actually gone through the gate, there is no mercy shown. Snakes can crawl through chicken wired gates. Use the smallest mesh available. And in a land that is not your own, all snakes are subject to mistrust.



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Filed under Battling Nature