Country Critters vs. Joan

Living in the country, as I'm doing this summer, has been quite an experience. I love the peace and quiet and the big sky which seems bigger here than in the city. At night, the stars are brilliant with no light pollution to dim them.

But I'm not so crazy about the country critters. If you've been keeping score, here's an update: Critters 4; Joan 2.

That's 2 snakes, 1 scorpion, and 1 armadillo versus little old me. (Of course, I'm not counting the million gophers that inhabit our land nor the quadrillion ants.)


First it was the streaker snake -- about 3 feet long of fast ugliness. It chased a mouse into the garage. Darling hubs was standing in the driveway and saw it unfold. He grabbed a hoe because he couldn't see immediately what kind of snake it was. I happened to open the back door and come out to find him trying to chase the snake out from behind a storage shelf.

The incident was like a cartoon where a hapless character chases another hapless character back and forth. Fortunately, my husband had now identified the snake as a native constrictor that goes after small animals like mice and, I wish, gophers. I grabbed a broom and assisted. Fortunately, the snake found its way out of the garage and into the yard. It hit the grass and was only a black blur as it raced through the coastal bermuda and into the field of wildflowers. In less than 30 seconds, it was gone.  

Snake number 2 was a baby rattler that got caught in a glue trap in the garage that we keep as a last line of defense for the field mice. That was one angry snake -- right by the back door. With my trusty broom, I pushed the trap with the snake in it out of the garage and to the end of the driveway where I left it to other critters to deal with it.


Next up was the scorpion that crawled onto my husband while he was asleep. He awoke, grabbed it and flung it at the wall. Hubby has reflexes like that. Result? One dead scorpion. A big one too.


That brings us to my current problem: an armadillo that is trying to dig to China, beginning at the southwest corner of my house's foundation. This started last week. At first it was some holes in the yard that made us think maybe the deer had been grazing. The next day, there were 2 feet deep holes at various locations around the foundation of our house. It dug so deep that you could see the bottom of the foundation.

In case you don't know, armadillos undermine the foundations of buildings. They can destroy houses if they're allowed to continue digging at will. They kill grass and shrubbery. Scariest of all, they carry leprosy and Chagas' Disease (which can be transmitted to dogs also) to name two. Texas Parks and Wildlife advises you not to even touch an armadillo if you encounter one.

Scientists validated their theory that armadillos could be possible for the spread of leprosy in the south, and they finally found a genetic link to armadillos. In fact, a recent study said that one in six armadillos in Texas and Louisiana coastal marshes harbor leprosy.

Armadillo Deterrent

Once an armadillo starts feeding in your yard, there's virtually no way to deter it. Death is the only deterrent it seems. So hubby filled the holes in, packed them down, and loaded his .22 pistol. That night, he patrolled periodically, looking for the creature. He found it, shot it twice, and it just looked at him and toddled away into the dark.

Hubby left for Canada, leaving me here to deal with it. Next night, the armadillo attacked that corner, digging down about 2 1/2 feet. Then it moved to the other side of the yard and dug a similar hole under the concrete pad where the air conditioning unit sets. Then another hole under the propane tank.

Long Story Short

Too late to make this long story short. I visited with my neighbors who had returned from vacation. Their yard has been dug beneath the foundation too. Of the few houses here, every yard has been attacked.

So I got the big flashlight, set it next to the .22 pistol, and assumed the role of guardian. If there are any animal rights people reading this, don't bother telling me that I shouldn't kill the animal. There's no other way.

No, I'm not going to try to catch it and take it away to be released elsewhere. I won't risk getting any of the diseases it carries even if I were foolhardy enough to try to catch the critter that has formidable claws.

I'll stick with the subsonic .22 bullets until I can talk to the Sheriff and see if it's all right to discharge a .380 or a 9mm. A shotgun kicks too much for me.

Takeaway Truth

So that's my exciting report from the country for this week. Anyone feel like singing the theme song to Green Acres? (There must be a book or at least a scene in this country adventure. Right?)


  1. Eek! I always read your blog when I'm pedaling on my bike, and today, before reading, because I'm moving in a few short weeks to the hill country myself, I had scorpions on my mind. In fact I'm thinking a lot about the critters out there! I love the outdoors like you but I am such a girl when it comes to the critters. I've disposed of/relocated my share, but I'm not exactly down with the country critters vs Joan routine! lol.... My son who's already living out there also woke up with a scorpion on him. His wife killed it! With her shoe. Final thought ... I've had a terrible infestation of armadillos here in Houston. I was so hoping they didn't live there, that the ground was too rocky! Geesh ... aren't rattlers and scorpions enough? Love reading about your adventures, Joan. You're preparing me mentally!

  2. Oh my! Get ready, girl. I'm girly when hubby is here. I always tell him that dealing with bugs, lizards, snakes, etc. -- along with car inspections, oil changes, and a whole host of things -- is his job. Alas. When he's not here, I have to don my super heroine cape and do battle. All that aside, I know you'll love the Hill Country even though I'm at the point of wondering what the next nuisance will be.

  3. Love your critter tales. We had a family farm up until 1999 so we have lots of snake, scorpion and armadillo stories, too. They're no fun when underway, but funny to talk about later!