Sunday, 12 October 2014

Sharing your home with wild life.

This is a seasonal post - as some wild life is looking for somewhere warm to spend the winter. And so am I.

Let's be clear. I'm not talking dogs and cats here. Nor hamsters and guinea pigs and budgies. No, I'm talking wild life.

I live on the edge of a market town - I won't tell you exactly where, because I go awol from time to time and it's bonkers to advertise which house will be empty. All you need to know is that I can walk across fields within five minutes of closing my front door.

There are implications in the garden.

I know there are foxes in cities - do they have the same distinctive smell as those in the country? When I walk down the garden in the morning, I always know if one has visited in the night from the pong. Though it doesn't happen often - there's plenty of rabbits in the forest. One summer there were badgers, taking a liking to the fallen crab apples (from my neighbour's tree) and eating so much fruit they were mildly sozzled, which was funny (except for the piles of poo left on the grass). I've had deer, too - muntjac deer who, you may not know, have a particular liking for rosebuds. (Good thing I've never tried entering roses in a show!)

Frogs, hedgehogs - anything is welcome if it eats the slugs and snails. I've also had the occasional slow worm. And birds - oh the birds! I can spend hours by my back door, just watching them.

So you see, I think I've made friends with the wild life in my garden.

And in the house? There are flies in summer, of course. And crane flies, midges, moths, butterflies, and numerous other flying things. Plenty of spiders. Do I evict them all? No - most do me no harm and seem quite happy where they are. I have been known to zap the occasional fly that has really got on my nerves, and will wallop a wasp that lacks the good sense to go out the window. But the rest can stay.

Then, after the harvest and as the nights grow cold (around now), I sometimes get a resident field mouse, come in out of the cold for the winter. One I can manage - he generally hides in the cupboard under the stairs and escapes back to the fields in the spring. I make sure there's no food left out to tempt him into the kitchen (mice wee as they run along, which isn't the healthiest thing in the kitchen). But a family of mice - there I draw the line. I've a humane trap to take them outside, and if that doesn't sort it then I'm sorry, they just have to go the hard way. Rats - I really can't make friends with rats (though I didn't do badly in Laos!).

There's the occasional bird that gets lost in the house - but that's not really a countryside thing. But I have had bats - three times. There must be a colony near here as they dive-bomb the back of my house in the evening, feasting (I think) on mosquitoes. Occasionally one gets lost and ends up in my bedroom.

The dos and don'ts of getting bats to go outside:

Don't turn the light on. Poor thing will flap round and round the light and be truly terrified - much more than you are.

Do - open the window, very wide.

Do go out of the room and close the door (with the light off). By the time you've made a cup of tea the bat will have found her way out.

And you? Who else shares their home with a creature or two?


  1. We don't have much trouble with small animals because we have two cats. They usually deal with flies too. But they've both learned the hard way to leave wasps alone!

    1. Lucky you, Morning AJ! I have a friend whose cats bring in live creatures - he has had to make friends with mice, frogs, baby rabbits ...

  2. We have all the usual creepy crawlies in the house. I may have mentioned my bat experience before. I once woke up in the middle of the night aware that something was next to my face. I turned on the light and it was a small bat. I screamed and flapped the quilt around - not very helpful, I know. I then came to my senses, managed to usher it out of the bedroom and left it with the window open wide. It must have escaped because I never saw it again but when I climbed back into bed I realised that it had left a little calling card on my pillow case! And up until then I'd been feeling sorry for it!!

    1. Have you read The Little Mole Who Knew It Was None of His Business - a child's book about a mole who wakes up with poo on his head, and goes round all the animals to find out which one did it? (Kids love it!!) The mole gets her own back - but maybe retaliating when your bat was probably more frightened than you is a bit harsh!

  3. I don't think a London flat is ideal for wildlife, but I'm happy with spiders. I can do without sqirrels shinning up to the window boxes and digging up the bulbs. To be honest I don't mind the occasional fox or rat - I rather admire rats for their ability to stay sleek and strong amidst the rubbish. My least favourite wild friends are cockroaches. Actually I really really really really hate them! Luckily we don't seem to have any. I hope that's not famous last words. !

    1. I so agree about the cockroaches - though I've met one or two on my travels. I'm sure you have, too!

  4. I envy you. You are probably having the most amazing start to the autumn season now whereas I, in good ol' Londontown, have been having all the rain. :-) I really feel jealous.

    Greetings from London.

  5. After half a lifetime with roaming outdoor cats we now have the last of the lot indoors, blind and deaf and cranky but otherwise fairly healthy. This means that the birds and the shrews are safe and that the hedgehogs can shuffle about any which way in the garden. A few years ago the rose ringed parakeets have discovered our neigbourhood. They arrived in the Rhine valley some time during the 1990s. Very social birds, they descend in small groups during the day, while at night they gather in three large trees at the end of town as one large noisy flock. Amazing, really.
    The wild life I could do without are the ants. They are slowly building massive tunnels underneath my house, I am sure of it.