My neighborhood sits on some prime real estate. This is only my opinion, of course, but let me share with you my observations. We have been in the middle – bystanders – to some turf wars the past few years.
It all started with the indigenous gopher tribe. We live in a desert so this makes sense. Not familiar with gophers? They are a skittish lot. A species that does not know how to relax. It seems their lot in life is to flit about like a group of nervous Nellies. I swear they have a store of coffee in their underground tunnels. The Java Joe Go’s also let out a nervous whistle from time to time. A high pitched, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa,” echoes throughout the neighborhood.
The gophers had a good set up until people started planting trees. Trees in a desert. The greenery attracted a new gang. A malicious sort – the squirrels. When they moved in the gophers laid low because they aren’t exactly fighters. Have you ever heard of a mascot called the fighting Gophers? If so, they’re lying. Gophers don’t fight they just hide in the ground. (My apologies to Minnesota but c’mon – a gopher?!)
From what I saw, I don’t blame the gophers for hiding. The squirrels look like they aren’t a species to be trifled with. Even though I’m much bigger, it was still unnerving to look out my kitchen window to see a line of squirrels sitting on the wires. Staring at me. I truly think they were sending me a message letting me know they were keeping their eyes on me. Watching me.
The crafty little suckers could infiltrate anything they wanted to really. We were on the verge of being overrun by them. The surge happened mainly because our neighbor – a sympathizer – fed them peanuts. He just didn’t understand they are nothing more than little evil fur balls with bushy tails.
But before the ninja squirrels overtook the human population, another group moved in to enjoy the foliage. Rabbits. Sure, they look innocent enough. Every time I see one it is eating grass or sleeping. They try to act as skittish as the gophers but not very convincingly. I tried scaring one away the other day and had to walk right up to it. It only scooted a few feet away. So I had to walk up to it again. Again, it only hopped a couple of times. We had to repeat this procedure several times to get it out of the yard (and away from my grass). It stopped in the alley and watched me. I got the feeling it was waiting for me to leave so that it could reclaim its spot in my yard. I (gently) tossed a rock toward it (missing it completely as planned) just trying to scare it. It watched the rock fall beside it. I swear it smirked and probably thought, “Sure, go ahead and hit me with a rock. I’ll get PETA on you faster than we multiply.”
Obviously the rabbits are the most ruthless gang to move in. They look lazy but when the sun goes down and people are in their houses, who knows what kind of warfare is raging in our yards? I fully expect to walk out one morning and see a little squirrel hanging by its forearms from the wires. But that isn’t really the rabbits’ style. They aren’t sloppy enough to leave witnesses. Although I anticipate the morning I wake up with a little squirrel head in my bed. The message will be clear, “We took care of the bushy tailed rodent population for you. There will come a time when we expect a favor in return.” I will be obliged to return the favor because I can’t tell you when I last saw a squirrel. Whatever it is the rabbits did to the squirrels worked. I think it’s safer for me not to know too many details.
The cottontails allow some of the nervous gophers to remain. Probably to serve as their lackeys. However, I did find a gopher trapped in a window well the other day. I can’t prove it but I’m sure the renegade rabbits had something to do with it. He probably missed some kind of payment or maybe took a nervous stand against the gang. A mistake he will not make again.
Another animal has our neighborhood in sights now. A couple of nights this past winter I looked out my window to see a deer sitting in my yard. Now, you would think, due to the deer’s size the rabbits’ reign of terror is coming to an end. Possibly. Except for the fact the deer is as skittish as the gopher. When you’re a tiny rodent it’s okay to be anxious. But when you weigh roughly the same amount as a linebacker it’s kind of embarrassing.
I really don’t think the deer have it in them to kick out the rabbits. It’s my firm belief the rabbits will kick us all out eventually. The laugh will be on them though! Without us, the green will quickly turn to brown. And the only species that will want this real estate will be the gophers. Then maybe they will relax.
Originally posted June 5, 2013