20 October 2011 by Julienne du Toit

Indoor Wildlife

“There’s a small crocodile in my room,” came the concerned voice of a German visitor over the telephone line to reception.

Immediate investigation showed that the crocodile was, in fact, a gecko. An understandable mistake for a first timer - even though geckos are really very, very small compared to even medium sized gecko.

Still, it’s a common issue here on in Africa. Wildlife doesn’t always stay outside. I have had to gently evict all manner of beastie (my husband just threatens to kill them. I think he’s joking, but just in case, I am the wild animal wrangler in the house). My crowning moment was gently moving a loerie (a grey go-away bird, to be precise) from my curtain pelmet through a window. It willingly stepped forward onto a broom, just like a parrot might, and clung to it until it felt the fresh air ruffle its feathers. I still wish I’d had a video of that. It would be all over YouTube.

There’s a Cape wagtail that regularly invades my house - presumably in search of delicious dog foot. He’s so practiced in escape that I now only have to open my door and swiftly flies out with a triumphant barrel roll.

Less pleasant are those harmless but large and scarily hairy rain spiders. They should be called the anti-rain spiders because they come inside when the barometer drops. Do they loathe getting wet? I’ve found that a mug over them and a stiff postcard underneath works pretty well. They curl up to a fraction of their size until flung into my furthest bushes.

I have a technique for almost all common indoor wild animals now. Grasshoppers and frogs are best captured in a floppy cloth hat (on account of the wild sudden leaps).

But when I found the sweetest little striped field mouse quivering at the bottom of my empty bath, I couldn’t resist scooping the tiny quivering rodent up in my bare hands. Silly me - I got nipped for my trouble.

It’s never happened to me, but here’s a tip I learnt that might be handy in case you ever find a snake in your house/room. Put a large box or cardboard cylinder on the floor. The snake, more than likely, will glide quickly into it. After all, it wants to get away from you as badly as you want it to go away, and it seeks a dark hidey hole. Then you can take it and release it in a safe place.

I also know of people in Cape Town that have found penguins in their houses. And of course, baboons. But those tales are for another day.

Category: Wildlife

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