Sunday, April 17, 2011


This weekend was quite the time for critters. Living in a rural/semirural desert area, one expects to see critters -- especially when they're encouraged to come around when people like us put food and water out for them.

Unfortunately, some critters are more welcome than others. Like ground squirrels. They can be pretty destructive.

So we invested in a "catch-'em-alive" trap so we could catch them and relocate those little varmints to other parts of the desert.

But we weren't prepared for the bees we saw for the first time yesterday! They took up residence under the roof where there was no piece of lumber to keep them out. $200 to have them removed this morning. They, like the ground squirrels, were taken to a rocky place out there where they can do what bees do in peace. They weren't Africanized and thus weren't dangerous, but they were too close to our front door and walkway.

Then there were the rats. The rats we have in the desert aren't like the disgusting Norway rats one finds in the cities. They're actually kind of cute!

They seem to like moving into a bale of Bermuda-grass hay that we use to add bedding material for our pet bunny and guinea piggy. But since that hay must stay clean, I caught the two rats and relocated them elsewhere.

Then, in the afternoon, we heard some faint "squeeks" coming from the bale, and my worst fears were confirmed: baby rats! They had fur but still had their eyes closed:

So, what do we do with them? I doubt they were old enough for us to take care of even if we had a way of doing so. I'm sure they were young enough so if we wanted to keep them as pets, they would have been perfectly socialized to life with humans.

But where does one get rat's milk? With two critters already keeping us busy, where would we put more critters (there were three babies)? I doubted Animal Control would want them. And I didn't have the heart to kill them myself.

So we thought about it, and -- as cruel as the Circle of Life can be, we decided to continue the Circle: we set out a shallow container and put the baby rats in it. For a roadrunner to find.

It didn't take long. The babies disappeared, one at a time, and thank God we didn't happen to see the roadrunner take them.

I hate stuff like this, and I wish we could have thought of an alternative. I hate killing, or being responsible for the killing of, animals, especially the cute ones. It literally sickens me. Sometimes the guilt is overwhelming. And it makes me hope there's a critter heaven someplace where beloved pets and wild animals alike go and spend eternity without fear of being attacked or harmed.

Is that too much to hope for?