I’ve leased an Island in the San Joaquin Delta (on Disappointment Slough) the past 40 years and I’ve ‘always’ had a BIG problem with rats and mice. Every winter they invade and begin chewing through my chairs, containers, and even the houseboat to make their nests, merrily
crapping as they go. And they easily chew (because their teeth regenerate) through the most stalwart containers, even those thick expensive ones – no problem.
My cats (Gus and Iriana) lived on the Island with me for about 12 years, and they were a great help in controlling the inevitable onslaught, but I still had to set traps and snap necks – I don’t use poisons.
Well, last summer, I moved Gus and Iriana to my suburban home in Modesto, a kind of retirement home for them, where they were gratefully separated from those pesky raccoons, who would routinely steal their food. One of the interesting aftermaths of the raccoon’s routine thefts, was the cats became very adept fisher-cats. I would always find scales and carcasses about camp, especially in the tent.
With my beloved cats now retired in Modesto, I knew this past winter was gonna involve a lot of snapped necks and damaged goods. But this winter the vermin were strangely absent – no damage and no droppings?? I was delightfully shocked, and yet a little disappointed, knowing the snakes, owls, and hawks depend on this food source.
I had no idea why these critters were nowhere to be seen, until I paddled in one late January day at low tide, and ‘lo and behold’ a marten (Martes americana) trotted out from under my ramp! WTF!?
I’ve only seen martins in the High Sierras? They’re one of the few carnivores that eat porcupine, and are imported to control porcupine populations. How in the hell it got there, who knows?
But I’m certainly grateful.
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