When Squirrels or Other Critters Become a Nuisance

While most hunters wouldn’t bat an eye at this question, this is a tricky one for animal lovers — what should you do when your house and yard are being invaded by rodents, or marsupials (namely, o’possums)? On one hand, they are animals, on the other hand, they are freaking annoying.

In South Texas, where I’m from, squirrels aren’t much of a problem. They hop from tree to tree, and for the most part, leave us humans alone. It’s the possums — the oh-so-gross possums — that are often problematic. In fact, they’re responsible for the massive flea problem in South Texas, and for endemic diseases like murine typhus. Possums = snarling fleabags.

Growing up, we’d always have a possum bothering our house, life and limb. My dad always took care of them, albeit sometimes dramatically (one possum kept playing dead after numerous kill attempts, so my father, frustrated to no end, finally trapped it in a trash can, lit a bunch of newspapers, and smoked the guy to death). Every homeowner in South Texas has equally gory stories about how to kill possums, who, like all animals, have evolved to evade death, but they do it better than most.

As an adult, I rented a house that had two possums living beneath it. (You’ve never felt fright until you wake up at 3 a.m. to the sound of possums fighting beneath you.) I moved out not longer after (I WISH I could say it was because of the possums, but in reality the house was also broken into by another nuisance – robbers).

One popular solution for dealing with nuisance animals is to bait and trap them — like this web site sells. Don’t you find their little logo clever? The sad trapped raccoon, the happy man who has trapped the pest…

I can see the appeal. You buy a trap, put some Fruit Punch Bait for Raccoon/ Skunk/ Opossum/ Fox in, place it in the yard, and trap a critter!

So far, so good: It’s trapped, it’s not injured, you haven’t committed a crime against nature…yet. Call animal control and you’re done right?

Wrong (at least in South Texas — where animal control may never show up, since they’ve got their hands full with more serious fleabag cases, and a limited budget that’s been dumbly slashed by county services). That leaves you with what to do with the nasty beast. Let it starve to death? Shoot it in its trap? Set it free at your enemy’s house? Feed it to the dogs? All messy solutions, indeed.

I guess it’s up to you to decide, but for me, that “what you should do next” step always frightened me, and my solution was just to complain loudly until someone got tired of listening to me and fixed it. I just didn’t want to know how.

Speak, rodent:

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