Warning: This is not a pretty, good news story.
Everywhere you go, you’ll see the cutest little animals darting from fence to tree, from branch to windowsill – bearing the characteristic markings of a chipmunk: the flickering tail, and the bell-like staccato chirp. They’re the front line in danger warnings, and when you listen closely, the distant just discernible chips merging with those from closer to hand comprise the background soundscape of daytime life here on the hill.
They call them laina in Sinhala – in English they call them squirrels, but they are chipmunks, for sure.
Lainas just love to set up house inside. Why not? Inside’s full of dark, dry, cozy places, just made for a laina’s nest.
They invade through the tiniest holes, anywhere from the floor to the roof – being great gymnasts – even chewing through the wire of flyscreens to get inside. Once here, they lay claim to the cavity between the springs of one’s sofa, that rarely used bottom drawer, or the motor cabinet of the fridge, and busily gnaw through anything remotely suitable for nest-building, including the coating on one’s refrigerator’s internal wiring …
You can imagine how cute quickly turns to not so cute, and how difficult it is sometimes to be convincing when you admonish The Girls not to terrorise them. They’ll listen, while you’re watching, but Podi the cat was born to hunt and early this morning I was woken by a (very) loud thump.
The dogs leapt out of bed, braying as through they ware on the heels of the devil. They tracked down Podi to the downstairs bathroom, but by the time I arrived on the scene, still bleary-eyed and tying my sarong, she’d almost devoured the little fellow.
Now, I’m sad about it – it seems we’re forever rescuing ambushed lainas – but on the other hand, I’m hoping like mad that the message goes out via the laina tom tom network: “Stay Away From That House”!