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Space Invaders

Critters and creepy crawlies are just part of life in Africa. My coworkers have great stories about all kinds of wildlife that came to stay over at their houses, from hand-sized spiders to Gambian pouched rats to baby cobras. So far I’ve been pretty lucky as far as keeping the inside in and the outside out – I’ve had a gecko or two and the periodic cockroach, but nothing major. They entertain the cat. I pay a bounty of three cat treats per cockroach corpse, which encourages him to keep sharp and to not eat the carcasses, which tend to result in some nasty cat puke messes when ingested.

But I went on vacation, and all of a sudden the outside came in with a vengeance. I discovered my first unexpected houseguests when I went to make some biscuits and noticed that my flour was wriggling. The whole bin was utterly infested with a colony of weevils (I think), which was busily laying the foundations of a great civilization in my pantry. It was interesting, in a nature-study sort of way, to see through the clear plastic all the little tunnels they dug, kind of like an ant farm. But I lost the whole lot of flour, since even my finest strainer couldn’t keep the larvae out. Yes, I tried sifting the bugs out to save my flour. This is how you know you’ve adapted to local conditions.

My second surprise visitor revealed itself through ear-splitting squeaks: the Jabberwock had encountered his first mouse. He had it cornered in the sunroom but seemed disinclined to immediately dismember and devour his ancestral prey, perfectly happy to watch his new toy squirm and poke it periodically to make it squeak. After all, he’d just been fed. I trapped it under a bowl and brought it out to the guards, who graciously stomped it to death for me, much to Jabbers’ disappointment. I never let him have any fun.

Jabberwocky’s lack of carnivorous bloodlust now has me looking for something that’s not an oxymoron, exactly, but occupies a similar space of things-that-should-not-be: a cat-safe mousetrap. He’s on his own until I get some though, and since the most reliable and accessible food source in the house is his own food dish, he might find himself with incentive to get a little more confrontational.