'Pest'-ilential crisis

We share our house with a wide variety of creatures. I am sure they are under the impression that they share their house with us pesky humans.

A bewildering array of spiders line the beams of the wooden ceilings and live in the corners of the windows. To prey on them, we have adopted a large family of geckos. From grandpas and grandmas, we also have tiny new borns scurrying about on the walls and hiding behind picture frames. It is a pleasure to watch them hunt and eat up spiders, mosquitoes and all sorts of insects that venture near the lights.

Ants are a constant headache – they are determined to come in search of food and I am just as determined that they should find their food outside. They keep me on my toes. Not a scrap or a drop of anything can be left on the kitchen counter or floor. Otherwise, the scouts – which forever reconnoitre the territory – send for reinforcements  and in march the army!

During the monsoon, tiny little frogs park themselves on the plastic chairs on the porch and one has to check carefully before sitting down unless they want a squashed frog attached to their backside! Snakes often wander in and have to be coaxed out. Luckily, we have not had indoor encounters with any venomous snake.

One snake which often enters the house – usually the attic – is the rat snake. And why wouldn’t it? The attic houses mice.

This summer we were blessed with a bumper crop of mangoes. We laid out the mangoes in neat rows on papers placed on the floor of our prayer room. As they ripened, we transferred them onto the trays for consumption. Soon, I began to discover small holes in the mangoes with chewed up skin in the corners of the room along with mice droppings. Horrified, I threw away all the mangoes with holes though it broke my heart to get rid of the luscious fruit. At night, we covered the remaining mangoes with plastic sheets. Even though we weighed down the plastic sheets with pieces of wood, the mice somehow managed to get at the fruits.

War was declared, and two sturdy mousetraps purchased. Baited with tempting, roasted dry coconut – apparently irresistible to mice – we actually captured a few.

But by the following week, the mice had learned to avoid the traps. They may have witnessed their compatriots getting trapped and hence, steered clear of the them.

The mangoes got over but the mice refused to believe it – they kept coming night after night and began to chew on the wicks in the oil lamps. Tired of cleaning the droppings and mopping the floor with phenyl everyday, we finally used the last resort – rat poison! The pieces of poisoned food vanished from where they were placed and so did the mice. All is fair in love and war, but I still feel it was unfair of us to get rid of the mice in this fashion.

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