My Unwelcome Roommate, the groundhog

My unwelcome roommate, the groundhog, was NOT living under the back porch like I had expected. No, s/he was ensconced in the very cozy crawl-space beneath my house enjoying the warmth from heat ducts and hot water pipes. I had planned to feel more generous about allowing the groundhog to stay, but nothing I had read suggested a happy outcome for the relationship.

The very helpful MDC (Missouri Department of Conservation) told me when I went to pick up a large live-catch trap, that the summer had been an incredibly prolific season for groundhogs. They had never seen so many within city limits!

Why? I think it’s because city folk think groundhogs are cute and treat them like pets. Apparently few people besides me were doing anything to discourage the invasion! Indignantly, I hauled the trap into the back of my sports car–admittedly a rather tight fit–and we rattled off down the road toward home.

A few minutes after I’d outfitted the trap tray with a nice fresh slice of cantaloupe I heard a snap and rushed to the window. Yes! A large furry animal had discovered no retreat and was banging around in the cage. Is there anything more validating than immediate victory?

But — the hissing, snarling, furious animal inside was the neighbor’s too curious cat.

Normally I enjoy cats. They give me space and I allow them theirs. But this huge orange cat had pooped on my white living room carpet after inviting himself in through the pet-port in my back door. He had repeatedly hidden-out under my bed and when I discovered him, he was able to dodge my broom handle. He was a very athletic mouser-type of cat.

It was war. And this cat knew it. And he was stuck in an animal trap beside my house.

How long should I leave him there? Would he learn any lesson? Would my neighbors be angry with me when they found him languishing in my trap? Maybe I could pretend he looked enough like a groundhog that I could relocate him out in the countryside. But I knew a big, tough tomcat like that would make it back home and the war would intensify.

I opened the cage. My nemesis streaked for the nearest tree.

You have to know that in a heavily treed Missouri neighborhood, you’re going to have an entire yard full of tree squirrels who will also be interested in cantaloupe. Before the big ice-storm that caused half the mature trees in my yard to split and crash, these squirrels could swing from one end of my property to the other without touching the ground. Even with fewer trees, I guessed that cantaloupe in a cage on the ground would be a temptation.

Also, what other small creatures lived out there in my back yard who might enter an animal trap?  I saw a pelican in a tree a few years ago. Honest. And the house wasn’t even by a lake. For a couple of years a terrapin lived under the back porch. He ate exactly one-half a leaf from my young sage plant each night and I’m sorry to report that the sage plant couldn’t keep up.

I waited. And waited. And waited — for that groundhog to sniff the scent of watermelon in my trap.