Stay Away From That House!

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”!

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61 thoughts on “Stay Away From That House!

    • Here we always take notice if the emergency call goes out – it might be a snake, and it might be in the back garden, not just in the vacant block next door, or taking a stroll down the lane. I suppose there was no other laina inside to warn this poor little fellow that Podi was on the prowl through the blackness of the house.

  1. I cringe, I laugh, I sympathize — within the last month I was up late working one night, and as I went to bed, before I turned off the hall ight, I could see the cat was staring at something intently in the corner of our room. I thought, crap, he’s got a mouse cornered, it’s 2 am, and I don’t want to deal with it (but I sure couldn’t just crawl into bed with that thought already planted in my mind). So I turn on the bedroom light (my husband was thrilled), and see a large mass of grayish-brown fur tucked between the wall and dresser where the cat is staring — I think, oh geez, there’s multiple mice. Uh, no, I wish (not really) — it was a young squirrel, that got in who knows how (probably one of those nooks and crannies in between the century-old house basement joists), that seemed to have been terrorized or injured close to death. I managed not to scream, and found an old plastic pitcher to scoop the poor little guy into and deposited him outside in the garden. In the morning, the little squirrel was gone — whether something else got him, he had been playing possum and scrambled off once the coast was clear, or something else, I admit to the same mixed feelings when all was said and done! ~ Kat

    • Oh dear, and all this cat and squirrel hunting happening while you’re awake in the next room! I have to believe he was playing ‘possum’ and got a quick get away, the moment our back was turned. Lets hope he also send out the word – stay away from Kat’s house 🙂

  2. Here is another story on the theme: I often wake up at night and need to circulate thru the house a little before I can get back to sleep: at 2:30 a.m. last Summer I discover my three cats strategically positioned in the bathroom, expectantly watching “something”. Stretching my neck and suspecting a largish spider I check and see a dark fur-thing moving away… skin prickles on my neck and I go upstairs to wake up my daughter with many excuses “but I cannot handle it”… she determines it is indeed something and after catching it in a shoe box it turns out it be a vole. They are like field mice but rounder with velvety dark fur, almost black. The cats were disappointed : we are animal lovers so she goes outside at 3 a.m. into the front yard of the empty house next door and frees the little cutie. Hey, the properties are 2 acres each here, it seemed plenty of space between the intruding vole and us with our coterie of cats. Needless to say the mice-and-vermin people paid us a visit in short order thereafter… but by this little adventure I lost my fear of things the go fur-and-slink in the night: I now depend on my cats to protect me from any further invasions. The first vole was saved; I don’t know about any future ones… it’s time these cats earned their keep… but so far there haven’t been any night visits anymore.

    • That’s one lucky Vole – and how lucky for you, because he has cured you of ‘things that go creep in the night’ and warned off his relatives – or maybe he’s told them about a fantastic place next door where there are neigher giants or marauding hunters 🙂

  3. Oh dear – it´s rather a double-edged sword, isn´t it? Cats will be cats, though it´s better (from a cleaning up point of view) if they catch something a little smaller than a laina 😦

    Good for your fridge though! 😉

    • Oh dear, but upstairs doesn’t bother me quite as much as my almost ever used sock drawer, or the poor fridge, or the delights of sitting down for a chat with our girlfriends and trying not to notice the chorus of tiny squeaks emanating from somewhere inside the sofa!

  4. Terrible!!!! I live on the country, and I like it but, as C. says, “aseptic”, free of small animals as spiders, snakes and all that…From time to time there are news on TV explaining terrible stories of people who have found one snake going out of their baths….(usually is one “nice pet” who has left its owner for a walk)…Everytime this is on the news I suffer from night panic each time I need to go to p….
    At least, it was not a snake this time!

  5. It seems I will have to forget about my allergies and get myself some cats. I am the mouse chaser in this house and they have me exhausted.

    • Poor Michelle – especially with winter coming on. Cats are easy, you know – you don’t have to sleep with them! i learned something new about allergies a while back, when i’d become allergic to wherever it was i was living, and the doctor, when I admitted to having two cats insisted we add ‘cat’ to the testing mix. He made me bring hairs of each animal – carefully marked and separated. You wanna know something – I was allergic to one, and not the other! The doc then admitted it’s not the animal so much as what’s in its fur that is usually the allergen, so who knows, you could go to the shelter and have a cat choose you (the way to go, Michelle) and take a sample, and see if you’re a match 🙂

  6. Well it’s sad about the poor little chipper, but Podi was only doing what she felt was her job.
    Not something you necessarily need to see every day though is it? 😯

  7. Chipmunks are adorable–and, they’ll terrorize a house. Like you, I hate to think of one of them being killed, still, Podi did as Nature intended. At least she ate what she killed instead of leaving it on your bed (as my old cat would have done!)

  8. Cats may have lived in our homes for thousands of years, but I don’t believe for one minute that they are truly “domesticated.” Dogs, yes. Cats …. not so much!

    • I couldn’t agree more, JM. We’re just the fortunate hosts to their benevolence! This cat, Podi, much prefers ‘venison’ than anything I provide, and even two collar bells didn’t diminish the hunting prowess of my cat in Australia 🙂

  9. The laina’s are so cute, like possums here and both can create domestic issues, so I agree Podi was just doing her thing, and it was survival of the fittest… awful just the same. At TA I went to great lengths to catch & release a cute mouse, got a nip for my trouble – ungrateful ittle bugger- but our Claytons cat who belongs to the LHS neighbour but befriends us when we’re home, knew better, and next morning, there was the mouse laid out on the back mat where I couldn’t miss it!

  10. It may sound harsh, but with the damage that things like this can do (allrodents really) the cat is doing a superb job, I will however politely ask my cats to take their toys outside…

  11. You learn something everyday….from the blogosphere. 😀 I’m one f those ignirants who only call it by one name – squirrel. Hehe. Lainas, huh? And the pronunciation? La-i-na or something like layna.

    • Layna … I’m finding it interesting how many people do call them squirrels, even though these little fellas are only a thee or four inches long – plus tail. I guess it’s the honorary Canadian in me that insists it’s a type of chipmunk. 🙂

  12. They should know better than to invade a house with cat anyway. So you stand absolved from all blame 🙂 Keira posted a similar ‘murder’ story, but the victim was a little bird!

    • You’re right, of course, Madhu but I think since one of their clan got away with eating my fridge’s innards while I had my leg up last year they reckon they might be lucky with the new one!

      I didn’t see Keira’s murder story, I must go over and have a look.

  13. Spiders, called Daddy Longlegs, quite harmless, have taken abode in my bedroom ceiling. I don’t mind that as occasionally I remove their webs, but, they just keep coming back. I love Nature! They eat the insects and flies that venture therein, and that’s a good thing! Your post certainly tells a different story from the usual, cutsey tale (do you like the double entendre….?). ;O)

    • Caught the double entendre, and the vision of your bedroom ceiling! Though I’m all hair and hackles if I have to pass a ‘tarantula’, I’m not averse to the daddy long legs doing their thing to keep down the mozzies, though some mornings when I emerge from my bedroom it’s a little like walking in the jungle, the number of floating web strings that brush against my face or shoulder as I make my way downstairs … and the more daddy long legs there are, the more hoonas – geckos – and I don’t mind them hunting either, except they poop and pee on things, and sometimes miss and have been known to land on me … 🙂

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