AT RANDOM: Critter crazy

First it was woodpeckers trying to claim squatter’s rights, but now I’ve got a whole new tunnel of problems at my home.

First it was woodpeckers trying to claim squatter’s rights, but now I’ve got a whole new tunnel of problems at my home.

To their credit, the woodpeckers eventually moved on (with a little persuasion from a constant barrage of well-aimed tennis balls). My current tenants are quite literally trenched in, and appear to have no intention of leaving.

At first, I didn’t realize who my new freeloading guests were. I saw the holes and dirt mounds on my lawn and assumed it was voles (aka meadow mice). After a little research, I pinpointed the culprits to be pocket gophers.

It turns out voles aren’t very good diggers, and instead they let other burrowing critters do all the work and then take over deserted tunnels. They’re kind of like the unwanted roommates of the subterranean world. You know, the ones who show up unannounced, then clean out your fridge without offering to help with rent or groceries.

Given the fresh mounds of dirt appearing daily in my yard (and all over my six-acre property for that matter), there had to be a different type of rodent at work.

In researching my quarry, I quickly realized these creatures can do a lot of damage. I read that a single pocket gopher can excavate approximately a ton of earth (up to 800 feet of tunnel network on one acre) in one year.

Pocket gophers have already decimated my garlic patch (we have five plants left out of the dozens we planted, and even those are unlikely to make it to harvest), and they have now turned their attention on my vegetable garden.

Now I know why Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) got so worked up in Caddyshack.

Time for an eviction notice then. The only question was, how best to serve it?

With two dogs and a cat, poison wasn’t an option. In hindsight, that was a smart move as I just watched my youngest pooch chowing down on a gopher I caught the other day.

Incidentally, none of our pets have really shown an aptitude for mousing (but the dogs sure can dig holes in our yard with the best of them).

I tried cranking on the garden hose to flood them out, but looking at their vast tunnel network, I quickly realized it would be a futile endeavour.

I considered gas bombs, but after reading the warning labels, I soon abandoned that idea.

That left me with one obvious choice – the tried and tested gopher trap.

Live traps weren’t really an option as I have no intention of relocating a gopher so that it can either become a problem for someone else, or heaven forbid, return to my place.

I won’t go into the gruesome details, but the traps are proving effective and I might just be turning the tide on my ground-dwelling foe.

There is another group of beasties that have taken up residence at our place. These ones I’m actually hoping will stay as they are doing a terrific job of keeping the mosquitos in check.

Yes, I’m talking about bats. At least 60 of them, and they have set up a nursery colony in the roof of our suite.

I was amazed to watch them drop out of the eaves one night as we walked the dogs in the yard. We just stood there in awe, counting them one after another as they headed out onto an insect-destroying sortie.

My initial reaction was one of revulsion, but after reading up on them, the pros far outweigh the cons for these house guests.

It will likely make for a lively project when I pull back our metal roof to inspect a leak this summer, but at least these creatures won’t be leaving any lasting damage.

—Graeme Corbett is the business editor for The Morning Star

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