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Friday, November 16, 2012

New neighbor....

For the first time ever ...we have a mouse problem.  Well, since we live arctic technically they are not mice.   They are called lemmings.  Or in our language we call them 'avingaaq.'

I have found that they are incredibly, incredibly annoying.  Some how they have discovered how to chew through the TWO thick tough bags that we use to store our dog food.  We have resorted to storing them high up on something that is impossible for them to climb.  But the fact that they are in our covered porch searching for food utterly terrorfies the OCD part of me.  I want to bleach the whole room after seeing their tiny, tiny footprints in the snow at the outside door.

My husband and I have had many conversations on how to deal with this problem.  So far I have tried natural repellents...which worked for a few weeks. And live traps, which to my horror caught one and then it starved to death.  Poison is absolutely out of the question, since we live in a huge ecosystem I am worried that something might decide to eat the poisoned mouse.  And then this last week I ordered plastic kills traps, becuase anything metal will freeze in the -45 degree weather.  Even then we are not sure if it will shatter or not.  But I am hesitant to use them. 

Sounds weird I know coming from a person that regular makes meals of animals and has very little qualms about killing wild animals.  But it seems like such a waste to me.  A huge part of the ecosystem depends on these tiny walking sacks of proteins and vitamins.  But to me they are just little programmed machines just doing what they should be doing, and I guess I hope they would give up and move on. 

But they haven't.

Yesterday we sat at the table examining the new mouse traps, trying to figure out of they would hold up to the job, when we heard a very terrified bark coming from one of our dogs.  It was an unusual high pitch panic yip.  Anyone who knows our home knows that our dogs pretty much bark at anything wih vigor and enthusiasm, so we know their barks well.  Dog code if you will.  We can even tell when certain individuals are walking past our house.  It's that particular.  This was a new bark...

We ran out and my husband heard a tiny squeak.  He called out that he thinks he heard a mouse and I rush in help him corner the bugger.   To our surprise we saw this little face darting about....

 I must admit that I squealed in a very un-adult manner at the tiny ears and bouncing face of a winter white coated ermine.  He darted about our belongings examining us.  He even came close and gave us a good sniff.  They are incredibly brave little buggers. 

In the winter time we often store some of the dog meat in the covered porch, a bone or whatnot ready to be distributed to the dogs that evening, and we figured that this guy sniffed our occasional stash out and was regularly visiting the porch to chew on them. 

These tiny predators are fast and sneaky, and are able to take down an arctic rabbit ten times their size.  They approach their prey with a sensuous dazzling wiggling dance to transfix them and then pounce on their backs and deliver a killing bite to the back of the neck. 

Legends tells us that if we keep our mouths open...or scream...they will jump in our mouths and choke us.   Don't you love the graphic nature of Inupiaq myth?

They also eat lemmings. 

Which is why we have decided that this new nighbor can stay for the time being....though we have taken to making sure that the meat is properly stored.


  1. Good for you forbavoiding poisons!

    The several times we have had problem over the decades we found these to be best solution ... period.

    Although the metal pedal are supposed to be much better then the plastic ones. Change of seasons cause mice/lemmings to try to get indoors.

    Ermines are incredibly cute. thank you for posting the photos.

    Have a Great Day.

  2. I hope he catches lots of lemmings for you.

  3. Cute little bugger! I hope he takes care of the other little guys in short order.