Sunday, July 1, 2012

I'd Really Prefer Squirrels.

As far as I can tell, there are no squirrels in Kenya.  I've never seen one here.  And that's kind of a shame, because how cute are squirrels?  Of all the vermin out there, I'll take a squirrel.  They hang out in their trees; they scamper about; they give dogs an opportunity for some exercise.

That last point isn't such a big deal for Pickles.  He has a whole host of things to chase around the compound.  He's gotten pretty good at catching chickens, which has so far been hilarious, but (should he ever actually kill one) could end up presenting a bit of a problem.  My neighbor actually contends that chickens are the ultimate dog-toy.  They've got these delightful feathers that ruffle up when they're scared; they're pretty fast (and therefore present a decent challenge); and best of all, they squawk.  Pickles also gets into it with guinea fowl (shockingly fast), other dogs (scary cause of the whole feral/rabid thing), and my favorite: sheep.  The poor sheep are usually tethered to the ground, so if they try to run, they often end up just knocking themselves over.  I always yell at him, but that's really for the benefit of any passersby - honestly, it just cracks me up.

Pickles squaring off against a goat...
Anyway, back to squirrels.  We should have them.  I don't totally understand how some animals appear in multiple countries and on multiple continents while others don't.  I think horses were actually from the Fertile Crescent but then ended up as a staple of the Wild West, right?  And, as I recall, rats are actually Rattus Norvegicus, so we can thank Scandinavia for that little contribution.

Really, all of this is to say: how did so many mice end up in my kitchen?  Why are there mice here but no squirrels?

I've been seeing this particular mouse for a couple of weeks now.  Every few days, I'd catch him poking around the bookshelf looking generally adorable.  But, recently, he's been appearing on my kitchen counters acting far too bold for my liking.  I've got a few precious food items - Hershey's cocoa powder, tofu, taco seasoning packets - and he's been romping around them like he owns the place.  After I discovered some chewing around a Ranch Dressing packet, I finally decided he had to go.

I scared him into a tin foil tube, carried him outside, and dumped him near the fence.  Some fundis (workers) who are building a small banda (guest house) on our compound found this incident pretty funny.  I was proud.  Humane but effective.  That's me.

Ten minutes later, I was seated back at the kitchen table trying to mine some data on our farmers' repayment in Butere District and... well, you can guess it.  Where there's one mouse, there's always more.

I tried to ignore Mouse #2, but there he was on the counter.  With my beloved imported goods.  This one scampered up a curtain.  I knocked him into a pot, which I subsequently covered with a breadboard and repeated the humane release.  The fundis stopped working to giggle.

And here I am, back at the table - data set forgotten, agendas not created, work generally abandoned - waiting for Mouse #3 to show himself.  I can hear him rustling around the cabinet (re: den, rat nest, disease-ridden box) next to me, but I can't find him.  My patience is waning, my deadlines are looming, and all I can think is, "seriously, if anything happens to my tofu..."

As a side note: there's also been a toad in my shower for the past week.  What is happening in this house?

P.S. Mouse #3 was caught in an upturned cupcake tin in the midst of a work meeting.  While discussing performance management and systems design, I was also sliding the tin, one indentation at a time, over the edge of the counter.  When the mouse (as much to my surprise as his) finally fell into the waiting pot, I shrieked like a 1950s caricature of myself.  The fundis were gone, but the night guard definitely found my third humane release of the day amusing.  I returned only to catch Mouse #4 and Mouse #5 skittering around, but that will have to wait for another day.

P.S.S. Mouse #4 was caught inside a bag of chips - my confidence that he was actually in the chip bag was absolute.  My buddy Seth's, less so.  He picked up the bag, crunched a few chips at the bottom, and when the bag, well, crunched back... all doubt disappeared.

1 comment:

  1. If you're interested in squirrels, we could arrange a relocation program. The fruit trees here would love it.