nature lover Tale – In my Hood

~ Part II ~

As I mentioned the area in which I in live today, while still suburban, is a bit more developed than where I was raised.

Running along the back edge of my property is a wooded area. Not very deep. In fact I can easily see through to homes on the hillside behind it. However the accompanying wetland is protected -and as small as it is, I have been amazed to discover all the wild-life which inhabit it.

Some are NOT pleased to make my acquaintance (ie. me and my dogs) and the feeling is often mutual.  Although I do try to give them my very best respect.  Since let’s face it -who was here first? Certainly not us! I have also learned to be cautious. Especially having two rambunctious Boxers, my male with a particularly high prey drive.

Neither being very cautious, nor patient. Just lucky.

Very, very lucky I’d say, considering the many skunk we have encountered either beyond my gate on my property or out walking. Yet they have never been sprayed. The best way I can distinguish skunk from cats after dark, even from a distance, is if they see us coming down the street, they do NOT run. They don’t have to.

There IS a yet to be identified subject who has set-up residence beneath my shed, apparently by digging its way from the woods under my fence. Checks in and out at its leisure. Bosco boy always notifies me when it is home by trying to get HIMSELF under the shed. Or, say for instance at 4:30 AM today when he could hear and/or smell our unknown friend from my screened bedroom door facing the yard, he alerted me by moaning, groaning, and whining.

Coyote? Indeed. One was meandering around our neighborhood for a while. An evening last year while my dogs were out on their walk he stopped, looked at both of  them, and kept on going. Not exactly considered prey for his liking. Sadly though, my next door neighbor’s cat went missing shortly after. Fox? Why yes, one did simply trot by at dusk, look both ways and cross the street. Very modern-day wild-life we have ’round here given they have had to transgress to survive living in closer proximity to humans.

Additionally, there were critters I kept hearing jump into the water whenever I would be alone in my yard taking my dogs out beyond the gate before bed each night. What freaked me out is I had no idea what. No sooner than I’d open the corner gate and flash my light, without fail I would hear a thump and a splash into the water.

Finally, I caught a sight of one at dawn. This time when it jumped in the water it popped it’s head out…a beaver. Wow, how cool I thought, setting up a dam right here in the embankment under which I stood.  Until the next day, there were two. Then one dove in and back out of the water and I saw the long rat-tail. I ran back to the house screaming.

These weren’t no beavers here, but Muskrats.

And then somebody had babies…

Because then for weeks on end these things were running amuck. Rolling down hills, booking it through the woods.  Eating, gosh only knows what these semi-aquatic mother-truckers eat. All I know is that these bad-boys just kept getting bigger and bigger and BIGGER.

Not wanting to disturb them with my dogs, or er, get too close to them I would peek out to see if the coast was clear, and no doubt, these fatties would be chillaxing in the water, floating on their backs. It was unfreakinreal!

For weeks on end I was the but of many jokes. People sent me links on Muskrat habitat. Called me the “Muskrat Whisperer.”

The muskrat is the largest species in the subfamily Arvicolinae, which includes 142 other species of rodents, mostly voles and lemmings. Muskrats are referred to as rats in a general sense because they are medium-sized rodents with an adaptable lifestyle and an omnivorous diet. They are not, however, so-called “true rats“, that is, members of the genus Rattus.”

One friend kept telling me I just HAD to hear the song “Muskrat Fever” and I said, “Ha-ha. Very funny.” However, a short while later when I did hear the song play overhead in a store, I admit I did have a laugh out loud with myself for second or two…

“Floating like the heavens above – Looks like Muskrat Love ”      ~ Willis Alan Ramsey

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