I have an old house, in fact, it’s over 130 years old. Obviously, it’s old-school construction. It’s triple brick with very little insulation, for the most part just air in between the layers of brick (which is fantastic during Canadian winters – NOT!). The inside walls are lathe and plaster and there is usually just enough room for mice to traverse the walls and chew on the lathe – most often at night. Near my head. When I’m trying to sleep. I also have six cats. Two of them are intrepid enough hunters but they are clearly not earning their keep. They lie there, staring at the walls with great fascination, yet the mice remain elusive. As I type this, I have one cat sitting on the arm of the sofa staring into a corner. There’s nothing there.
For the past couple of weeks, at least four of my cats have been gathering in my bathroom, staring under the cabinet under the sink. It’s unnerving because they’ll sit there for hours. Then I started hearing scrabbling from the basement and it was definitely something bigger than a mouse. Before the snow fell I had seen three rats in my backyard, nibbling up excess birdseed. I suspect they came from an abandoned building across the road and high-tailed it over when the food ran out and they discovered a fanatic backyard bird lady in the neighbourhood. But I was terrified that they were in my basement. “How on earth would they have gotten into the basement?” you might be asking. Well, being an old house, there is no sump pump. Instead, I have a drain hole out the back of my house for flooding purposes. I had stuffed steel wool in it, to allow for water flow but reduce critter access, but I began to question it’s effectiveness. The scrabbling continued, so off to the recesses of the basement we go. Not only was the steel wool no longer in place, but it had been pushed about two feet away from the hole. AND a tunnel had been dug above it, through the foundation of my house!!! “THOSE RAT BASTARDS!!!” I exclaimed, noting the pun, which wasn’t intended, but darned funny in hindsight. I plugged up the hole(s) again and vowed to buy traps over the weekend.
Two hours later I heard scrabbling like nothing I’d ever heard before. It sounded like a grizzly bear was running across my furnace vents. No exaggeration, of course. Armed with my flashlight, I ventured into the depths of the basement in time to see the most beautiful ermine running into the depths of the house. It was in its winter colours, pure white with a black tipped tail. All rage turned into one giant “Awwwwwwwwww, it’s so pretty!!!”
So traps are out of the question and I’m now trying to figure out how I can catch this beautiful creature, tame it, and make it my bestest friend. Because who wouldn’t love to see this face every day…
I decided to check with my local wildlife rescue/sanctuary place as to what might be my best course of action. Apparently, so long as the ermine have easy access in and outside, they will move into a home, eat every mouse and rat in the vicinity (yay ermine!!!) and move on to another food source when it has depleted its food source. Secondly, they won’t attack my cats because the cats are huge (and why tangle with something so huge for no reason) so it will probably stick to my basement and inside my walls, and will move on when it’s bored, hungry or both.
That being said, I unplugged the holes again and I shall allow her (for I’ve named the ermine Ermiony) safe passage through my home. Eat well my dear and enjoy your stay!
P.S. I have discovered a second tunnel. I don’t know whether or not I have an “emergency exit conscious” ermine, or maybe a pair. Wouldn’t it be fun to have an Ermiony and Herman the Ermine?