Saturday, June 5, 2010

Things that go munch in the night.

The first few nights we were in Maine, I was woken up by a munch-y, crunchy, chewing noise. It sounded like something gnawing on hard plastic under the house. The third night, since it was going on longer than usual and since it seemed possible the creature might cause damage, I grabbed my flashlight and got out of bed. (The up-side of limited electricity: your flashlight is right there when you need it.) I walked across the bedroom to the front door, stepped down a few steps and leaned over to shine my flashlight under the house at the piping. Nobody there. Our stairs have open risers, with blocks to hold up the treads. Without knowing why, perhaps I heard or saw something, I shined my light down at my feet, and there looking up at me from under the stairs was a large porcupine. It is my good fortune that porcupines like wood, not toes. This one was so close it could have chomped mine if so inclined. But I wasn't the least bit nervous, it's brown eyes looked very mild. I gave it a friendly "hello" and asked it not to chew on our house anymore. As it lumbered away it turned back to look at me several times. Cuteness! I'm not sure if it heeded my request or if I simply can't hear it now that we moved our bed to the second floor, but I'm pretty sure it's been leaving our house alone.

Now, instead, I hear the squirrels that live in our roof. I don't know if they are munching in the night, but they are scrabbling. And in the day, they do some serious romping. I haven't bothered to ask them to vacate the premises because I know it will take stronger, um, persuasion to get them out.


  1. I'm so glad it was a porcupine! He sounds pretty sweet (just don't let the kids touch!). It's funny you tell this story because I just learned from my mom that she had been hearing an incessant munching sound - perhaps a bit quieter and subtler than yours - in her Florida beach house. After some investigation, she discovered that it was the sound of thousands (maybe millions?) of tiny bugs eating their way through a piece of furniture made from the wood of an old barn. She's told the bugs most likely got into the wood when it was still part of the barn...and - due to the fact that it never had a finish applied - are now reclaiming this "reclaimed" wood for themselves. She's having to throw the whole thing out. In any case, even a gated community in Florida can have its critter invasions, so take heart that you're not alone, way out there in the wildness. And surprisingly also in Brooklyn not every creepy crawly has been rendered obsolete, as I'm finding it a challenge to keep the slugs off my sweet potato vine!

  2. Wow, that's remarkable that she could hear the bugs chewing.

    Ugh, slugs. They ate most of our seedlings. Apparently "Slugo" is the way to go, and I'm told it isn't toxic to us, but haven't looked into it yet.