Sunday, September 07, 2008

 

Stoat


While I was working outside on one of my cars this morning, the cat casually sauntered by as if everything was cool. Trouble is, the cat is not allowed outside - without his front claws he's just not equipped to wander the woods at will (there are also dogs that roam by on occasion). So, he'd somehow escaped. It was funny how he acted as if all was just fine. He ended up sitting under the car near my storage shed.

When Y came out to collect him we heard this loud chattering coming from beneath the shed. Then a stoat peeked out at us and kept chattering as he ran back and forth under the shed, peering out at us from various openings. This guy seemed pretty curious about us and continued to pop out and stare at us for quite some time, before finally disappearing.

Stoats are also known as ermines; in the winter their coats turn pure white. A few years ago I thought I'd glimpsed a long thin white critter skimming along a snowbank near that shed, but I wasn't sure and never saw another trace. Since stoats live for 10 years, this could be the same one.

After consulting the trusty internet (when I was a kid, we used our Encyclopedia Britannica set) we learned some interesting facts about stoats: These cute little critters are in fact vicious killers; smaller than ferrets, they even prey on rabbits. But their usual diet consists of mice, voles, rats, birds, insects. I've always wondered why we have no mice sneaking in under the garage door to raid the cat and dog food supplies. Stoats can climb trees and run down the trunks like squirrels. No wonder the swallows avoid all the birdhouses. That might also explain why there are no rabbits around here.

At first we assumed that the stoat was complaining because we'd let the cat get close to its hideout. Now, though, I wonder if it wasn't actually telling us off because we'd recaptured the cat and taken away a rather substantial feast...

Comments:
Yikes! Watch out, Kitty!
 
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