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Archive for August, 2012

Let’s Meet MORE of the Previous Residents

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

(or, I’ve Become a Wildlife Trapper )

Today we extend our scope from mammals (bandwidth hogs) and rodents (groundhogs) to marsupials.  You’ll want to read part 1 of this series before continuing.  (Or maybe you won’t want to.)

Episode #14. After our successful capture, is our problem really gone? The Critter Control guy shows us that we can stuff a wad of loosely crumpled newspaper into a groundhog hole like so:

This will give you an indication of what’s happening in the den. The paper is easy to push out of the way, but it helps you diagnose what’s going on. If it’s pushed into the hole, something went in there.  If it’s pushed out of the hole something WAS in there. If the paper isn’t touched, relax.

Episode 14-a. I fantasized about groundhogs constructing an elaborate infrastructure of interconnected tunnels around our house but in fact they don’t do that. They create a short little hole and use it as a den.  I was thinking that they could go in one hole and come out another but maybe that’s prairie dogs.

Episode 15. Newspaper is untouched. Traps untouched. Problem solved?

Episode 16. Rustling in trap number 1 — the one that hasn’t caught anything yet. Investigation reveals… the wrong animal!

This charming marsupial also loves a tasty apple.

I was thinking that he would “play possum” [sic] but he was chill. Wikipedia says that when an opossum “plays possum” he passes out involuntarily for up to four hours and secretes a disgusting scent from glands near the anus. (You can learn a lot of things from this blog.) He smells like death, in other words. It’s not just closing his eyes for a second.

He didn’t “play possum” for me, though. This guy just wrinkled his nose.  Apparently I am not scary enough.

Episode 17. We have a debate about whether or not the opossum needs to be deported. I want to keep him. The rest of the family says no. Outvoted.

Episode 18Oh no! The newspaper has been pushed in. Someone went down there.  Or was it the roofers? The traps are untouched.

Episode 19. Critter Control hasn’t even picked up the opossom yet and there are reports of a chittering, chattering banging from trap #2! Another capture. And — it is difficult to see in this picture because of the perspective — this guy has a serious weight problem.  This is a wide groundhog!  And he’s fighting mad!

He bites the cage for a while until ennui sets in. Then he goes quiet and waits for his ride to the county park.  Along with the opossum.

Episode 20. Is this the last post in the series?  Who knows? Two more apples and the traps are re-set and waiting.

Continue to part 3 of this series.


Let’s Meet the Previous Residents

Friday, August 24th, 2012

(or, Diary of a Groundhog Trapper)

OK, my last post was about bandwidth hogs. This one is about groundhogs. I’ve just moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan to take a new job at the University of Michigan. Here is a quick episodic diary of my first few days with our new house.

Episode #1. Our home inspector reports that when he arrived at our new house there were two groundhogs “frolicking” on the lawn. We don’t have groundhogs where we are from. We’re not sure what to make of this news.

Episode #2. Our home inspector shows us a large hole that has been chewed through the front porch with bits of fur caught on the edge. There are a lot of little footprints leading up to the hole. We are concerned.

Episode #2-a. It turns out that groundhog, woodchuck, whistle-pig, and land-beaver are all synonyms.

Episode #3. The home inspector’s report is finished. It includes a photo that shows something has been in our crawlspace, chewing on the underside of our floor.  In addition, there is a groundhog-sized tunnel leading through our stone (!) foundation wall nearby, undermining our foundation. The inspector comments that this area looks like a “critter dining room.” We are concerned. Something should be done, but what?

Episode #3-a. An Internet search reveals a variety of improbable folk remedies, like filling groundhog holes with cat poop. We are dubious. Where would we get enough cat poop?

Episode #3-b. Having big holes full of cat poop all around your house seems worse than having a groundhog.

Episode #4. After moving in, we found two medium-sized Havahart traps already in the house. One came with a squirrel’s corpse still inside it… so we know they work.  Spouse reads on the Web that groundhogs love cantaloupe. A quick run to the grocery store and the two traps are baited and set.

Episode #4-a. I found myself removing the seeds from the cantaloupe until I realize that this is silly.

Episode #5. Both traps are triggered, but the cantaloupe is still inside them. Chipmunks? A lead-footed groundhog? We are not sure.

Episode #6. Arriving home in the early morning a groundhog is seen sunning himself on the driveway. He runs when we approach and we can’t help noticing that he is obese. He is also fairly slow. Will he even fit inside the trap opening? This is debated. He runs into the bushes.

Episode #6-a. We decide that our obvious next step should be to research cute animal pictures and funny videos on the Internet. We discover that certain dog breeds are very good at killing groundhogs. Terriers are excellent but reportedly they are hard to live with. We discover that the Blackmouth Cur (pictured below) is both an excellent pet and also a great groundhog chaser. Coincidentally, we meet a neighbor with a Mountain Cur (a related breed). The neighbor confirms that his dog really likes to catch and kill raccoons,  groundhogs, and even squirrels (!). We leap into action and look at a lot more cute animal pictures on the Internet.

Episode #7. Rustling in the bushes near one trap. Spouse hears sound outside like someone “knocked something big over.”

Episode #8. One trap is triggered and cantaloupe is gone. Victory groundhog.

Episode #9. The cantaloupe in the second trap lures a swarm of angry yellow-jackets, which we discover when they sting the radon guy. He says he “doesn’t mind.” We doubt this.

Episode #10. The first trap is triggered a few more times but the cantaloupe is not removed.  So close!

Episode #11. The second trap’s cantaloupe is now covered in swarming ants. They fight the yellow jackets. We decide to never touch this trap again.

Episode #12. We call Critter Control and the very nice man comes out and agrees with our overall strategy. He puts down two larger traps in addition to our two traps. He baits his with apples and he puts them directly adjacent to the groundhog hole.

Episode #13. Finally! Just a few hours later, we meet the previous resident of our property.

The groundhog caught in a trap

Episode #13-a. For reasons unknown, our daughter names him “Thomasson.” (Is she a fan of Sweet Home Alabama or Free Bird?)

Episode #13-b. Thomasson has a lot of B.O.

Continue to part 2 of this series.

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