Thursday, June 16, 2011

Critters Buggin'

Recently I was putting something away in the garage when I noticed that the little screen that covers the breezeway under my house was bent open. I didn't want some some vile varmint to crawl under my house and die, so I grabbed some wire screen that I had previously bought at The Home Depot to prevent that very possibility. I cut, twisted, pried, and finally inserted the screen into place over the old bent one. Not a perfect match, but it would do the job.

Later that night while I was retiring in the bedroom, I heard something outside that sounded like bending bending and creaking. "That little fucker" I muttered as I went to the sliding glass door to see what was undoing my fresh screen handiwork. Turned out the fucker wasn't that little. A huge raccoon, probably as wide as a pig, was pulling at the screen. I knocked loudly on the window and the raccoon startled and slowly turned to leave. I opened the door to hurry his ass up, but then I remembered those raccoons have claws and aren't afraid to use them.

The next day I remembered that the previous owners of our house had some sort of animal trap they'd left in the crawlspace. Despite the fact that the raccoon I saw was probably too wide to fit in this thing, I brought the trap over to where I'd seen the raccoon the night before. In the refrigerator there was some old marinara meat sauce that probably was beyond a date fit for human consumption. I grabbed the tupperware of the meat sauce and put inside the trap for the critter.

At around 1:10 am I was awoken in bed by the sound of a metal snap outside. I went back to sleep. About an hour later I was again awoken by a sound that I could only imagine as thin plastic tupperware being chewed into and broken. I put my pillow over my head and went back to sleep.

The next morning I grabbed the carafe of coffee, poured a cup and went outside to see what was in the trap. To my surprise it wasn't the raccoon. I don't know how I expected it to fit. It was a possum. Nice enough kid.

It hardly moved at all when I came over for a look, and it just seemed tired in general. I wasn't quite sure what the next step was, so I searched out my retired neighbor Jim who has a koi pond and therefore a raccoon problem.

Jim stands about 8 feet 11 inches and is never seen without a cigarette in hand. Jim leaned down and said "Won't take 'em" shaking his head slowly. "The city will only take a racoon, not a possum, and even then they'll charge ya for 'em. I have a guy takes 'em out to the Santa Monica mountains and sets 'em free for 75 bucks! Ya oughta let him loose." Jim took a drag on his cigarette and wandered back toward his house.

I made it back over to the trap and slowly opened one end. In retrospect I have no clue why I didn't wear gloves or try to protect myself from razor sharp teeth biting my fingers off. But the possum seemed too tired to put up much of a show of any kind. "You're free to go" I told the possum. But he didn't move. He just kind of hung there, maybe waiting for me to move away from his cage before he made a getaway attempt.

So I left for a little while and came back and he was still there, now sleeping. "You can go whenever you want" I said. "You have your walking papers." But he seemed content to stay a little longer. I opened up the other end of the trap so he could exit on either side. Still no movement. "I'm gonna leave now" I told the possum. "I hope you're gone when I come back."

Hours later I went back to look, and he had finally gone. Perhaps he needed to rest up before heading back to his burrow or whatever. I told my next door neighbors about the trapped possum, and showed them the pictures. Both husband and wife looked and said "Eww". When I mentioned that I had to let him go because the city doesn't take possums, my neighbor Kevin asked where I let him go. "I just opened the trap and let him leave." I said.
"In the backyard?" Kevin asked.
"Ewww" Kevin replied "Couldn't you have taken him to some wilderness or something? I don't want him coming back here."

Right. I set the trap out again that night hoping the possum would be dumb enough to go in again. Besides, he seemed to like it in there as long as there was food. But no luck. Fly on, possum. Fly on.