October 31, 2009

What's under the fridge? What??!!

There’s something living under my fridge.

It’s not very big - after all it has to live under the fridge - bit it is there. How do I know? Good question. I can’t hear it, I can’t see it, but I know it’s there because it cleaned my kitchen floor. Not all of it, obviously, but it did do something very peculiar. Let me explain

I have a a cat. He’s called Zeke. He’s a ginger and white moggy. His favourite pastimes are eating, sleeping and chasing things that move (it’s squirrels at the moment, but earlier this year it was fledgling chicks). Sometimes he combines two of his favourite pastimes into one, such as when he’s eating his dried cat food and starts to chase the bowl across the floor. What this usually results in is a small trail of dried cat food pieces on the floor in the corner of the room where his bowl is. Normally I pick these up and throw them away, but the other day I was working and forgot about them. When I came back later that day they had gone. Vanished. Disparu. My immediate reaction was ‘Oh, the cat’s eaten them’, which would be the logical thought. Except he’s never done that before. He’s of the opinion that there are only two kinds of food : Stuff you chase and kill (which includes the aforementioned fledgeling chicks, squirrels and anything I’m in the process of eating), or stuff put in a food bowl. If it’s not in a bowl or it hasn’t been hunted down he doesn’t eat it. A double plus for him is when he’s hunted down some breakfast cereal I’ve been eating and eats it straight out of my bowl. But when it comes to eating stuff off the kitchen floor he’s not into that.

Which made the disappearing cat food even more mysterious.

But then I looked around the fridge. I have one of those larger upright fridges with the freezer on the bottom. It sits by itself in an almost custom made space at the side of the kitchen cabinets. There is a cabinet on on side and a wall on the other. Between each of these there is a gap of about 1.5 inches (or 4 cms). In this gap I can see right down the side of the fridge to the kitchen wall at the back. I can’t physically reach in there, but I can see in. Amongst the odd plastic bottle top, cobweb and coin of the realm that has accumulated there I spied a small pile of dried cat food pieces. Neatly arranged.

That was the day before yesterday. Yesterday the pile had diminished in size and today it was gone.

I suspect it is all my cat’s doing, though. Did I mention he likes hunting and catching things? A couple of weeks ago he caught two squirrels and brought their bodies back to lie in state outside my back door. Last week I awoke to find a large pile of pigeon feathers (some still attached to fleshy tissue) on the back patio, and a day or two back a dead Robin appeared there. In the past we’ve had a whole family of Thrush fledgelings, mice, a frog, a slow worm (picture, left) and a rabbit. Normally they come in dead (or semi-digested in some cases) but he does, occasionally, bring in a live, albeit somewhat stunned rodent of some sort and let it loose in the house. His favourite trick is to bring them up to me in my study and let them loose amongst the cables and wires I have under my desk. Much hilarity ensues as I try to wrestle him out of the room whilst also trying to keep an eye on an increasingly manic, and slowly recovering rodent nestling in my network router cabling. Then I have to trick said rodent into my patented ‘Rodent Removal Receptacle’ (an old Doritos Salsa dip jar) and take him out into the garden.

But I think in this case Zeke has fooled me. I know he brought something in the other day and left it in by bedroom. I looked for it. He looked for it. But neither of us could find it. I forgot about it until later that evening when I was sitting in my front room and spied something peeping out from under the couch in the corner. It ducked back in quickly. I went to find the patented RRR but when I came back the creature had gone.

Having seen it I’m pretty sure of what it’s not. It’s not a mouse. Mice are awful things to try and catch. They’re so quick and once the shock wears off them the only way to get them again is to bring Zeke in to finish the job off. I hate doing that. Likewise it isn’t a rat. Too small. I don’t even think it’s a rodent either. I suspect it’s a shrew, which isn’t a rodent at all, but a mammal (Shrew feet have five toes; rodent feet have four). It appears to now be living under my fridge and foraging for cat food during the night. I suppose I’ll have to find a way of getting out although I understand that Shrews have to eat 80%-90% of their own body weight in food every day. This one isn’t going to do that living under my fridge, that’s for sure.

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