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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Suborder Ophidia; Order Squamata

There must be something about me that draws animals into my home. I'm not talking about cats and dogs here. Animals. Like those who are supposed to be living outside.

I've reported here in the past that over the years I've had mice. Okay, mice aren't that big a deal. Mice come and go. It gets cold outside, a mouse comes in, you set a trap, you're done. I don't like mice, mind you, but come on. It's...you know...a mouse. Mickey and Minnie and so on, minus the gloves and conversation.

On Long Island a few years back I came home and saw the face of what I thought was a rat peeping out from under the chair. Turns out it was a chipmunk. I opened the door and shooed him away. Later, I found his sleeping corner, tucked under a little table in the guest bathroom. I wasn't thrilled that a chipmunk had taken up residence in the house, but again: come on. It's a chipmunk.

One summer (also on Long Island) yellow jackets invaded. Over the course of a few months I think my nephew and I killed about 300 bees. At first it was startling to have bees flying through the living room, but after awhile we got used to it. "Bee!" one of us would yell, and whoever was closest to the pantry would get out the Pam and take aim. We liked using Pam as opposed to actual insect spray because it was non-toxic. The bee's wings would get gummed up and the poor thing would fall to the floor, whereupon we'd step on it. I didn't like killing the bees, but it wasn't right, having bees everywhere.

There have been quite a few times when I've found the innards of small creatures at my doorstep. The kidneys were the most disturbing. And then there was the giant raccoon, the one who stood on his hind legs and glared at me through the French door windows one night.

I've come to deal with all this. That is to say, I can deal with the organisms I actually see. It's the one I think is living in my family room sofa that's got me crazy at the moment.

Without going into unnecessary detail, something is UP in the family room. I've been hearing sounds, like something scritching around behind the couch. This is a big couch, a leather sectional in fact, and is too big for me to move. If I was the only one hearing these sounds I'd write it off to "poor Kathy's brain is going soft," but Harry and both cats hear it as well. They go wild, racing around the room trying to get back there while I, in turn, sit with my feet up and wonder what's going to come rocketing out from under one of these days with three snarling pets close behind. The other night the scritching turned into scratching. Loud scratching. Sounded like my family room critter was burrowing into the sofa. Harry went purely nuts. As did his owner. I huffed and puffed and tried to pull the sofa away from the wall, but it wouldn't budge. The scratching stopped and I went to bed, plotting my next move.

The next move, as it turned out, was to take a poll of my friends. Most said "mouse." A few who like to torture me said "rat." A few others offered "chipmunk" and "squirrel," adding that household pet food might be getting them through the winter. Then one friend, with a Hannibal Lecter glint in the eye, suggested this:

"snake."

As in, per the dictionary, "Suborder Ophidia, Order Squamata: a long limbless reptile that has no eyelids, a short tail, and jaws that are capable of considerable extension."

Head cocked, I imagined some exotic pet-owning neighbor with an escaped python and asked myself the question: Was it scritching and scratching I heard? Or slithering?

I have now relocated myself to an upstairs part of the house for TV watching, and await the arrival of five strong men (not yet identified) who will move the sofa and banish whatever lies beneath. Meanwhile, I will be locked in my car with my cell phone, awaiting the call from five strong men who will report, I hope, that it was indeed just mouse.

Stay tuned.

About Me

Newspaper columnist; blogger; author of Delta Dead; author of 101 Tip$ From My Depression-Era Parents; author of Australian Fly; editor: "A History of the Lawrence S. Donaldson Residence"; "The Port Washington Yacht Club: A Centennial Perspective"; "The Northeastern Society of Periodontists: The First Fifty Years"; editor: NESP Bulletin; editor: PWYC Mainsail; past editorial director: The International Journal of Fertility & Women's Medicine; past editor of: Long Island Power & Sail, Respiratory Review; Medical Travelers' Advisory; School Nurse News; Clear Images; Periodontal Clinical Investigations; Community Nurse Forum