Trespassers will be soaked on sight
As a homeowner, not only are you responsible for defending your house from appliances that insist on breaking and children that insist on breaking them, you’re also responsible for warding off pests. These can take many forms: rodents, ants, neighbors’ kids, etc. For the last several months my parents have been engaged in an epic battle against that common, everyday pest we all face as homeowners: armadillos.
“Ohh, that’s…terrible?” I replied when my father first told me about this issue. Being the understanding son that I am, I treated this with the appropriate level of concern. “I just got over my orangutan infestation so I know how it is.”
Armadillos are basically large rats that have seen Lord of the Rings a few too many times and spend their time cosplaying the battle scenes. My parents live in the southern part of the United States where, apparently, armadillo terrorizing is actually a thing. At night they (the armadillos) tear into people’s yards in search of grubs or buried treasure. To hear my mother describe it, you’d assume there was an army of armadillos outside their walls in ski masks secretly plotting to break in, raid their refrigerator and take them hostage.
“Kelly it’s horrible! They’re destroying the yard!” my said through a shaking voice. “We haven’t slept for weeks.”
“The neighbor bagged 8 last year,” my dad added.
“Well you’re not going to let him win, are you?”
“He’s got a shotgun,” he replied, sadly. “I don’t have a shotgun.”
“At least mom has something she can buy you for Christmas.”
They’re getting up four times every night to try and capture them in the act like they’re Chris Hanson from the TV show “To Catch a Predator.” Essentially both of my parents are now Bill Murray in Caddyshack. My mother acts as the spotter while my dad attempts to snipe them from the deck.
“Getting up four times every night? It sounds like you have another baby,” I said, immediately regretting the entire sentence for multiple reasons. I thought back to when our four-year-old was a baby, though I’m guessing my parents catch armadillos outside searching for grubs at a slightly greater frequency than we did with him.
I receive random text messages keeping me up-to-date, because they’re retired and need a hobby. They’ve tried seemingly everything. Moth balls line the perimeter like some kind of ritual to ward off demons, to which the armadillos shrewdly defy using the clever tactic of casually walking over them.
The “trap” my father constructed is about a four-foot-wide track that gently narrows into an unbaited cage (as to not catch the wrong animal by mistake), thereby hoping to funnel the stupidest creature in existence into lazily getting caught. I imagine the sight much like when my four-year-old tries to bowl, the ball gently trickling along the gutter towards its target but more often than not stopping and reversing course. Shockingly, it hasn’t yielded any results and he only had to let me out once because I got confused and wandered in.
The next step was apparently motion-sensor light, which only helps the armadillos on their quest for food, acting like a refrigerator when you open the door. When that didn’t work, he installed a motion-activated sound-and-sprinkler system. That also has had little effect, though now their backyard is basically a rave for woodland animals rebelling against their parents. All it’s missing is an inflatable DJ and a stripper pole, which I’m sure Menards also sells.
While he claims to have “bagged” a few, I have no idea what he’s doing with the bodies. I like to think he puts them in tiny hanging cages with a tiny sign around their necks as a warning to all other armadillos.
When the latest text message came in that they seem to be losing the battle, I had a few suggestions left.
“Have dad dress up as a big armadillo,” I suggested.
“What? Why?” asked my mother, whom I assume is now always dressed somewhere between Sylvester Stalone in Rambo and a Ghostbuster.
“To get into the mind of the armadillo you must…become the armadillo. He is the alpha and can lead them out of town.”
Given their desperate state, I assume it’s only a matter of time and I need a new screensaver photo.
My other incredibly helpful suggestion has been to invite them into the house and eradicate them in one of two ways;
1) Conduct an elaborate “Home Alone” style gauntlet of painful hilarity or
2) Spend their days surfing the classifieds for job postings and dropping them when the armadillos pass them in the morning
The latter method was effective in ridding them of their previous pest.
Kelly Van De Walle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at his house arguing with his wife about why he can’t light HIS yard on fire. Follow Kelly on Twitter @pancake_bunny for more pest erridication tips (Tip #99: If you find a bat in your home you will have to move. It is his domain of darkness now.)