Let's see.Two weeks ago it was cicadas, last week it was bees. What infestation could I possibly write about this week? (Believe me, I've got plenty.) I think I'm going to call this my "Guess what's living under my porch" column.
There is something under the porch. Every time I take a step I can hear the thing scamper from one side to the other. Maybe it's related to whatever is living in the ceiling above the living room. Sometimes in the evening, I can hear something scurrying around up there, too.
Every once in a while I like to hit the ceiling with the broom handle to really get it going. It nearly drives the cats insane. We are assuming it has a way out and that it will just go away before it dies up there. Oh, the joys of a 160 year old home.
Anyway, back to the varmint under the porch. My husband and I had a discussion about it. We both agreed the worst-case scenario would be skunks. There has been evidence of them in the air from time to time and evicting them would surely be dangerous and messy.
Then, just as I was checking the back of the Febreeze bottle, I happened to glance out of the window and what do I see but a little, grey, woodchuck hightailing it under my porch! So. We have a woodchuck infestation. Woodchucks, revered by thousands as the weather forecasting, spring predicting, ground hog and known to a lesser degree as "whistle pigs."
Yes, I said whistle pig. I've done a little research on our new tenants and it turns out woodchucks will let loose with a loud whistle when they're frightened, plus they sort of look like furry pigs, I guess. The Web site I was reading also mentioned that they have been known to growl, squeal, hiss and chatter their teeth when they're agitated.
I keep trying to scare and agitate our whistle pig, but so far he hasn't made a sound. Next stop, the firecracker aisle at Wal-Mart.
Now let's test your whistle pig knowledge:
1) What do woodchucks like to do in the winter?
a. Gossip about Punxsutawney Phil.
b. Hibernate under the Mullins' porch in their lush, subterranean bedroom.
c. Get together and watch Caddy Shack
d. Rent a villa at Lake Titicaca.
2) Whistle pigs are:
d. All of the above.
3) Marmota Monax is:
a. A famous Australian super model.
b. A character from the Star Wars Trilogy
c. What I almost named my son: Marmota Monax Mullins.
d. The high falootin' scientific name for whistle pigs.
Many of you may be wondering if ground hogs are edible. Well, if the number of recipes on the Internet is any indication, I'd have to say, yep, them whistle pigs is good eatin'. And the benefits don't stop there.
Ground hogs dig burrows that can be five feet deep and nearly thirty feet long. They build a room lined with grass to hibernate in, but they also dig a separate bathroom chamber, which in turn fertilizes the earth. When they bring all that subsoil up to the surface, they are aerating the ground and increasing top soil. Fact: In New York State, woodchucks are responsible for turning over 1.6 million tons of soil every year.
I hate to say it, but apparently whistle pigs aren't all bad. They have cute names, help the earth, and taste good. I just want ours to do it somewhere else.
Answers to today's quiz: 1) B. and maybe A. 2) D, all of the above. They are rodents. They are corpulent. (fat) And they are crepuscular. (active at night and just before sunrise) 3) D, Marmota Monax is a scientific name, and C, but I told Angelina and Brad they could use it.
Let me know how you did!