Test Your Wildlife Management Skills

Here at Rancho Santa Clara, located almost in the very middle of Mexico (pronounced meh-HEE-ko by the locals, just so you know), keeping the local fauna at bay is a year-round challenge, particularly during the rainy season when many species sneak into our living space probably because they don’t want to get wet any more than we do. It’s been raining or at least drizzling for the past several days and we’ve had more than the usual number of critter intrusions, a situation I want to use to test your wildlife control skills. Consider this a teachable moment.

1. You open the lid of your gas grill and inside you find a gray mouse placidly nursing three or four babies. What do you do?

  • a. Grab the spatula from the wrought iron grilling tool set you got for Christmas and beat the entire mouse family into a pulp, while cursing loudly. Make sure to thoroughly clean the grilling surfaces afterward with a garden hose. 
  • b. Turn on the grill to 350 degrees for grilled mice, medium rare. 
  • c. Gently open the grill lid, take a picture of this adorable scene of maternal love, apologize profusely to Momma Mouse for the intrusion, and leave a couple of lettuce leaves to tide her over until she can go out to fetch her own groceries. 
  • d. Take a cue from our maid who shrieks at the sight of mice and refuses to sweep the terrace for the following three weeks. 
Grilled mice: Who can resist?
2.  A medium size bird has sneaked into your living room and is desperately trying to escape.
  • a. Wait until the bird has crashed into every window and knocked itself senseless. Deposit the little feathered friend in the nearest trash can. 
  • b. Grab a shotgun and go for it.
  • c. If you don’t get it at first, reload.
  • d. Let one of your cats handle this avian crisis.
  • e. Get on a stepladder and with a broom swing wildly and uselessly at the intruder like a complete moron. Keep going until you are either exhausted or fall off the ladder.
3.  You spot a medium-size green frog on the kitchen floor (or in the bathtub or the toilet). 
  • a. Knock her out with a cotton ball soaked with tequila and proceed to relive your high school science class by cutting her open with an Exacto knife. Try to recall the layout of a frog’s internal organs.
  • b. Hack off her legs and add them to your dinner salad to see if they really taste like chicken.
  • c. Tell Stew there’s a frog in the house. 
4. You step into the shower stall and you find a spider, a couple of inches long, ambling by. 
  • a. Throw the shower floor mat over it. 
  • b. Aim the shower head at it to see what a drowning spider looks like. 
  • c. Find an index card or something like it and gently coax the spider out of the shower stall and hope it’s gone by the time you’re finished showering. 
  • d. The same as choice “c”, except you call one of the dogs and see if they’ll eat it. 
Correct answers, maybe: 
The following answers have not been vetted or approved by the Humane Society, the National Wildlife Federation or anyone who knows anything about animals, wild or otherwise. The answers just reflect what Stew and I do in these situations, based on experience and marshmallow-soft hearts when it comes to critters. 
1. The mouse family: “c” is the only logical choice. I mean, are we the only ones who think gray mice are cute, what with those large black eyes that look like marbles, the round ears sticking up and the twitching whiskers? And baby mice? Let’s not go there. Granted, large rats, eight inches and longer, like the one we found dead on the garage floor last week, can test our definition of “cute.” That’s why we let one of our dogs take care of that problem.
2. Birds are a particularly tough challenge because they fly and tend to poop on you when panicked. So yesterday we just let Fifo catch the bird, and then we grabbed Fifo and gently took the panting bird out of his mouth without roughing one feather. The bird was out of the house, Fifo’s self-esteem was puffed up and we didn’t get bird poop on our heads.
3. Frogs are a constant aggravation and don’t think for a second you can just flush the problem down the toilet. These are Olympic-caliber swimmers who’ll be staring at you pleadingly next time you lift the lid. The only solution is to let Stew do his usual Tupperware and index card magic trick: Carefully position a Tupperware bowl on the visiting frog and then slide the index card under it. Take the whole package outside, being careful not to drop the frog. You don’t want it to get a concussion.
4. For some reason our master bathroom is like Greyhound station for insects travelling nowhere. While you sit you can look down and watch a conga line of spiders, ants, moths, crickets, water bugs and beetles going around your feet. It beats reading some old magazine. Sometimes the bugs stick around, other times they disappear. Call it one of Nature’s Great Mysteries. They don’t bother us, so we don’t bother them. 
I end with some late-breaking news. Stew peeked under the cover of the gas grill and the entire mouse family has decamped without a good-bye or even eating the pieces of lettuce I’d left for the mother.
Damn ungrateful varmints. 

15 thoughts on “Test Your Wildlife Management Skills

  1. Would you like me to send Morgen the Perfect Doberman up to the rancho for a week? She'll have the pests cleared out, and she'll make sure all of their friends and relatives get the memo. In the 2.5 years she's let me share the property with her, the tlacuaches and ardillos have cleared out. Of course, in the process she did bring more than a few into the house, gifting them to me. But hey, she was just being generous. Nary a rodent has set foot on the premises since she's been around. She kills birds and insects, too. We don't call her La Jefa for nothing. She may be Elba Ester Gordillo's suplente.


  2. Anonymous

    Frogs aren't too bad when they are hopping near a river bed. But when they have drown in the pool you are swimming in it's time to call someone to scoop them out–they look mushy and weird. You get out of pool throw some more chlorine in and wait at least 10 minutes. This usually does the trick for me.


  3. Anonymous

    Newer houses seem to have more bug problems than older ones. When my parents built their retirement home, it was filled with bugs for the first few years. Since then, I think the bugs have given up ground and now mostly stay outside. Hopefully the same thing will happen for you. Saludos,Kim GBoston, MAWhere spiders, and possibly centipedes too, seem to be the predominant life form. At least in my basement.


  4. Just this afternoon after the almost 4 inches of rain, I saw what I thought was a leaf on the kitchen floor, but, when it hopped, I realized it was a teeny tiny green tree frog. I managed to scoop it to the outside.Your description of the steady stream of creatures walking through the bedroom elicited a chuckle from me. I have little rolly polly bugs, daddy long legs, and a myriad of other creatures passing through. I wear socks when my feet are on the floor. BIG, THICK socks.


  5. Anonymous

    Wow, awesome blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is fantastic, let alone the content!Here is my blog post Adfly bot


  6. Anonymous

    hi al,thoroughly enjoyed this post. except for the bird, i've had some similar experiences. when i was una ninita en cuba, my dad found a family of mice in one of his work boots. they were so cute and pix and i wanted to keep them but helet them loose over the wall of el solar-across from our house in marianao. our rat infestation in lake stevens was a different story-our dog, cats and our son's corvette engine took care of them. they actually made a rat's nest in the engine and quite a few were decapitated whne chris would start the engine. it cost a fortune to have the thing detailed. o.k. enough about my animal tales.steve and i have been back in nagoya for almost 2 weks. we spent a total of 2 months and 1 week in the states. we are both doing much better now. thanks for the prayers, i really appreciate.odd question, but do you like will y chirino's music? for some reason i had the song “glorioso san antonio, ayudame” in my head this evening so i looked it up. first time i'd heard it in years. he has a great one called,”guajiro”.o.k. me despido con saludos y un abrazo. perdona por la charla tan larga.teresa


  7. Anonymous

    Not pronounced meh-HEE-ko by anybody. In Spanish, it's written México and pronounced MEH-hee-koh. A written accent in any word puts the stress on the syllable where the accent falls.


  8. Anonymous

    Not pronounced meh-HEE-ko by anybody. In Spanish, it's written México and pronounced MEH-hee-koh. When there is a written accent in any word, the stress falls on the syllable where the accent is.


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