Archive for the ‘pest control’ Category

Cat Jail
27 August, 2016


OK, not our actual house but you know what I’m like with taking photos.  The enclosure we got is very similar, but it has marine carpeting to the base, also.  And an extra high shelf with ramp.  The tunnel to TGP’s window is shorter and there is a lockable cat flap.

I went with this mob because they coat the metal with something that’s said to be stronger than galvanising and meant to last 10 years plus.  As you know anything metal here usually rusts out in under 6 months and although I love Q’s Cat Max, I was concerned the fittings would crumble.

The good news is poor agoraphobic Flotsam can now venture out for a sunbathe.  The other good news is Dad paid for 2/3 of it.  Huzzah!


Snail Misbehavin’
6 October, 2011

Brave Florida resident, Alice, aged 11, confronts an invading Giant African Snail.

Flee, Floridans! Fire up your mobility scooters and wheely-walkers and flee at your own pace… the Giant African Snails are coming!

Just kidding – they look more like this:

My favourite bit is when the snail gave Mrs Hernandez  a migraine and she had to have a lie down. Really, Mrs Hernandez – after one 13cm snail? I’d love to confront her with a paddock-full of slime mould or a nasty outbreak of feral armpit fungus and see what happens – spontaneous combustion is my working hypothesis.

But it’s not just snails invading Florida. They also have terrible problems with Gambian pouched rats, pink hibiscus mealybugs and Burmese pythons. I know it’s wrong, but that news just makes me want to crate up several thousand cane toads and ship them over to add a bit of hop to the mix.

Still, serious biosecurity issues demand a reasoned response. Stop panicking, Florida. I’ve got several solutions to your “crisis” and so far I’ve only had one cup of coffee:

  1. Slimearama  Start a snail-based takeaway franchise. Sauté in garlic and red wine,  and serve in their own shells. Tastier, healthier and better for the environment than McDeath.
  2. Snail racing  Florida is America’s retirement capital, and seniors appreciate a gentle tempo. Paint numbers on the side of their shells, raise State revenue by taking bets on the… erm, sliders, close off a few main roads and let them rip. Hell, you could start a whole snail racing carnival. Fascinator sales would skyrocket.
  3. Exploit the Food Chain  Feed the pink hibiscus mealybugs and giant African snails to the Gambian pouched rats. The plumped-up pouchies may then be offered to the Burmese pythons. Sated and bloated, the pythons should make easy targets. Skin the pythons and make orthopaedic shoes, or colostomy bag covers.

Florida, no need to thank me – just send me a pair of python slingbacks, size 8.

My Chookyard: Colditz by the Coast?
5 June, 2011

Poultry facilities: Note adequate food and shelter. Water (not pictured) also clean and ample.

I have previously alluded;

to one of my chook’s remorseless attempts to burrow out of the yard.

Chooks aren’t noted for their sharp wit, or propensity for forward planning, or reasoning… actually, chooks are pretty much noted for egg-laying and being tasty seasoned, crumbed and fried.

But still,  I keep questioning the motivation of this chook. Known as “Briana” by her former owners, we call her “Rooster” since she moulted her tail feathers, grew in a new more impressive set practically overnight, beefed up her comb and then turned on “Tikka”, who used to rule the roost.

Inside the yard, there is food, water, shelter, congenial company and plenty of opportunity for scratching, sunning, dirt-bathing and pecking. In case you’re not up on poultry husbandry, that sums up the whole gamut of chook behaviour other than rooting – we don’t have a rooster.

In fact, my chookyard has got it all over a Malaysian immigration detention facility – the only bamboo canes used in my yard prop up the tarp.

Despite her freedom to live a life of luxury, troubled only by wondering how many bacon rinds might be in the kitchen scraps and when they’ll be tossed at her feet, Rooster insists on staging elaborate breakouts.

Chook tunnel: note the use of sticks as buttressing

Pictured is Rooster’s latest tunnel. Note the use of native sticks and garden debris as buttressing.

"Cover for me, you two. Look innocent while I go under the wall!"

Why, Rooster, why?

Is it because, now you’re a drag king, you share some men’s misapprehension that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence?

Do you find it funny when the cry “Chook’s out again!” goes up, we corral the dog and all rush out to round you up again? Do chooks even have a sense of humour?

All I know is, if this keeps up, Rooster will get to experience the novel delights if being inverted in a killing cone… just before I slice off her ungrateful, tunnelling head.

Croc Up
9 May, 2011

Woo-wow: chomps hell out of the traditional flowers and champagne if you want to score with women

It has come to my attention that certain, other than lady-like, members of The Lounge feel not only marginalised but also terrified by our free and frank discussions. Shame. Here’s one for the boys, then; or, as I call them, in a spirit of equality and compassion, the chromosomally-challenged:

A would-be Don Juan in Chicago, Illinois… birthplace of the Blues Brothers and death-bed of the American car industry… has been charged with possession of a dangerous animal by unfeeling Cook County sheriff’s investigators who seized his four-foot alligator.

Poor 43-year-old Dewayne Yarbrough kept his pet… name unknown, let’s call him Snappy… in a small tank in his kitchen, feeding it only 10 live mice a month in an effort to restrict its size. I hate to keep calling Snappy “it”, but my extensive research has failed to reveal its gender. I like to think he is a male gator, although the phrase “hung like a gator” has not entered the common idiom for good reason, I fear.

So, the score is Cupid love, rock-hearted Animal Control Officers fifteen and the Animal Welfare League plans to pass Snappy to the Chicago Herpetological Society.

What I’d really love to know is – who dogged (should that be crocked?) Dewayne to the cops: an underwhelmed young miss who freaked out at a failed reptilian seduction… or a jealous love rival, perhaps endowed only with a Children’s Python with which to woo the laideez?

Cause and Effect
26 April, 2011

Christopher Walken as the Angel of Death.

In a lyrically traditional piece of symbolism, the Angel of Death passed over my house on Easter Sunday. We enjoyed a low-key and major-incident-free celebration with family and close friends. As one might expect from the events of Christmas, though:-

for those of you whose merciful memories have suppressed the Yuletide incident – we came unstuck yesterday.

Magic Man, like the proud little digger he is, shed blood on ANZAC day. It all started when I was at blissful repose, inside the makeshift cone of silence I’d cobbled together from headphones, my internet connection and Youtube. Magic Man came rushing into the room, face twisted in anguish, gabbling something or other than for some reason I couldn’t interpret. Oh, the headphones – right. When I took them off, I heard:

‘A chook’s gotten out of the chook yard and The Dangerous Dog is out, too!’

Since the Dangerous Dog was doing his best to trip Magic Man up – i.e. arguably inside at the time – I failed to panic.

‘Settle down, mate. The chook’s gotten out before.’

And it has. My chook yard might as well be Stalag 13, the number of times this chook has escaped. It may be that Tikka is so stupid – even by chook standards – that she can’t realise we’ve got a free-ranging hound out here and she’s got food, water, shelter and companions in there. It may be that she’s a poultrine freedom fighter, protesting her interment at Villawood by the Sea. It may be chaos theory in action. Whatever the root cause, the kids and I have got re-capturing and returning her down to a fine art. We sprang into action.

Livestock corralled, we conducted a forensic assessment of the scene of the crime. There was clear evidence of dog-digging along the front fence line and a new gap along the back fence.

‘Aha!’ we concluded, ‘DD tried to dig in and Tikka panicked and fled out the back through a tunnel she’d made ready.’

The bloodshed came when he tried to patch up the yard. To cut to the chase, Magic Man stumbled backwards and stepped hard onto the upturned edge of the Weber lid. Which, as it happens, is sharp enough to gash a gusher into the sole of a 10 year old’s foot.

There was wailing, there was a great deal of invective hurled at Elf Boy – who was blamelessly on the other side of the backyard at the time, there was limping, there were tears. I got him in the shower first, to rinse off the archaeological layers of mud, blood and chook poo.

Elf Boy tried to help by yanking his brother’s dick ‘To distract him from the pain in his foot.’

I responded with a string of curse words delivered in a tone of voice so many octaves below my normal pitch that for a moment I wondered if I’d finally been possessed by an incubus.

In conclusion, I patched Magic Man up and after another day’s rest and elevation of the affected limb I hope he’ll be fit for camp. Some of it, at least. They’re only travelling 40 clicks or so south from us, so I can always go and change his dressing if required.

Needless to say, though, I’m fearful of the terror the Labour Day long weekend might hold. Stay tuned.

Hop Stopped
6 March, 2011

On yet another of my forays to the hardware shop – yes, I believe the long-suffering blokes at our local Mitre 10 are sick to death of me; rumour has it they’re clubbing together to buy me a Bunnings gift-card – I was thrilled to discover a can of HopStop.

HopStop is a humane toad-killer in aerosol form, invented by some clever scientists in Canberra:

Despite my deep and abiding hatred of toads, I don’t quite have the bloodlust – or the swing – to club them to death. We’ve tried the freezer method, but I’m uncomfortable turning my kitchen into death row. Having read about the HopStop release I was eager to give it a burl.

The next day the boys tore around the side of the house, whooping with delight. They’d found a pair of toads in the bucket under the tap.

“They were mating.” Magic Man said, a little wistful for the soon-to-be-blighted next generation of toadlets.

“Fabulous.” I replied “With one spray we can effectively eradicate hundreds!”

Over-turning the bucket, we watched the big male hop away at the first sign of trouble. I shook the can and passed it to Magic Man, who’d volunteered as Chief Executioner. He sprayed the toad – a small to medium sized female – for the few seconds recommended on the can. There was no olfactory evidence of the refreshing lemon scent the manufacturers promised – but nor did we reel back choking up our lung linings as you tend to with bathroom cleaner.

The toad took a few hops, then stopped. Could it really be as simple as that? Not quite. Using scientific methods – a few pokes with the end of his home-made bamboo spear – Magic Man determined that our victim was still extant.

A second, five to six second spray did the trick.The toad writhed away, making paddling motions with it’s back legs.

“Poor thing, it thinks it’s swimming in the dirt.” said Elf Boy

Satisfied that our prey was suffering terminal neurological compromise, we turned out attentions elsewhere. The next day I came back with a plastic bag to act as undertaker, lobbing it in the bin.

Verdict: Win for HopStop, but not quite the quick, painless death advertised. I’d recommend an eight to ten second spray for the average adult. Toad, that is – but I’m sure there’s a market for ex-husband spray, scientists, if you’re reading this. HopStop is easier and much less gory than clubbing toads to death. Unlike the freezer method, you don’t have to handle them while they’re live and squirming – or  risk forgetting about them, mistaking them for a couple of chops and defrosting at a later date.

Reasonable value at 19.95 a can and it’s always good to support Australian scientists. A few caveats, though: HopStop will kill bees, plants and native frogs,  so don’t go carpet bombing the backyard.