Field of Science

Who da primate? Who da rodent?

One of the few problems of having a big, park-like yard, other than having a lot of gardening to do, is unwanted organisms moving in. The majority of such organisms are plants, weeds, and it's an annual battle of them against us. Generally the Phactor has a generous nature, and lots of animals enjoy living or passing through our gardens, skunk, opossum, raccoon, fox, rabbit, fox squirrels, a great variety of birds, two species of bat, coyote (once), and deer (once), here in the middle of our city, but one unwanted rodent is a regular problem, our native marmot, groundhog, or woodchuck, really pretty nice animals, handsome, as rodents go, but absolute pigs, hogs, when it comes to eating your gardens, an entire crop of winter squash one year, leaves, fruit, and all. And don't ask Ms. Phactor about her parsley crop this year! Eaten clean off in the late spring, languished during the heat of summer, and just as it was recovering in the fall, eaten clean off again. But the worst and only real problem is their penchant for burrowing under sheds, garages, and pavilions. So although it only provides a temporary solution as new guests constantly arrive, the offenders are humanely trapped and removed to a somewhat more rural location. This is not as easy as it sounds. Something irresistible to a woodchuck usually appeals to opossums as well, and they simply curl up and sleep, awaiting their fate, which is to be turned loose heading away. Young raccoons often trade a period of incarceration for a juicy, fruity treat, but they get quite indigent. And the latest woodchuck to take up residence in our gardens was quite wary, grabbing small teaser baits, but never entering the trap after a big treat, and after 3 different opossums fell for this three days in a row, it was looking like this problem would be dealt with in the spring. But we win these contest with intelligent guile and after thinking about how dry it has been, baited the trap with sices of watermelon, which proved to be rodent irresistible. Next year the contest will begin again, but we know who the primate is.

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