1) A Shrew Doing her Laundry in Malaysia
I live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. For about 3 weeks, every morning I found a small dropping (about an inch long and tapered) and a small puddle of yellow urine in front of my washing machine. I knew that it couldn't be a rat because the dropping was too large. I had no idea what was leaving this mess behind. I figured out that this animal was entering at night by sneaking through the bottom of my front door. There is about a 1 inch gap between the door and the floor. I blocked the gap. No more mess in front of the washing machine. INSTEAD, this animal proved to have an attitude. It was now crapping and urinating in front of my door!
I decided to get a simple rat trap (it's harmless, just a small cage with a trap door) and placed it near the washing machine. I put some of my cat's food in the cage. Next morning I had a funny looking little creature in the cage with the body of a rat and a long pointed nose. The photos on your web page enlightened me to the shrew. I took it to the nearby park and set it free.
That room where the washing machine is located has a history of harboring wildlife. The room is actually a spare bathroom turned into wash room. The first wildlife encounter occured when the washing machine finished the wash cycle and started draining. It drains into a 4 inch floor drain that doesn't work very well. The water backs up flooding the bathroom floor. It's something we just have to live with in this house. This particular drain cycle started flushing my cat's dry food up out of the drain and all over the floor. My wife and I could not figure this out. Then we saw a hamster, well washed but not rinsed standing on its hind legs shivering in the corner. It seems that it had made the drain its home and was stealing my cat's food. We bought a home for the hamster and still have it!
The next encounter was not as cute. In this wash room there is a small enclosed storage space below the staircase. Like our front door, there is a small gap below this storage space door. I started noticing rat droppings near the door and when I looked inside I discovered that the rat had been there for some time. There were droppings all over the storage space floor. I was not as humane with this animal and opted for rat poison. It worked. End of rat.
You mentioned in your letter that the shrew may have nested near the washing machine. You were right! After inspecting the storage space, I discovered more of its droppings. Also, it left behind its distinctive musky odor.
These stories obviously do not say much about my cat's abilities to keep our house free from little mouse-like animals. I think she's as amused as we are.
By the way, the shrew has still not made its way back from the park, but I'm not giving up hope!
3 weeks later ...
Can you believe that the shrew has made it back? I was really surprised! I woke up this morning and found, the now customary, puddle of urine and small stool next to the washing machine.
This weekend I'm going to go into the storage space and clean everything out. I don't want to leave any hiding place. If it still insists on visiting us I'll try the trap again. But something tells me its too smart to fall for that again.
Will keep you informed...
2) When Shrews Meet Dogs or Vice Versa ...
Well, we all know the outcome of a cat - shrew meeting, but what happens when a dog encounters a shrew?
We have a large German Shepherd, but since we also keep gerbils as pets, he does not bother other rodents thinking, perhaps, that they just are temporarilly escaped from their cages! Saw something amusing today. A shrew walked right up to our German Shepherd, as if not believing "Dogzilla" was really just looking at it. Dog's tongue comes out, and licks it, at which point shrew decides it's no fun being licked by a tongue four times your size, and runs away.
As a young girl, we lived in a large old tenement with a huge decrepit veranda. Every imaginable creature took refuge beneath this urban sanctuary at one time or another. One autumn day, the family dog disappeared. She was a small stocky mutt, known to venture underneath the sagging building after mice and other small creatures. Crawling around the veranda, calling her name between the rotting wood and ground, I suddenly heard a pitiful whining behind the front steps. The dog immediately rushed out to me. Still whining, a tiny mouse was dangling off her nose like an earring. The creature's long pointy muzzle had a vicelike grip and as I tried to pull it off a trickle of blood flowed down the dog's nose. By then my father had arrived. Totally disregarding my efforts, he tugged at the tiny mouse and the blood really started to flow. It was at this point that he brought out a small ax, held the dog's head against the cement step and cut the little mouse in half. As horrific as I remember this event, the dog shook it's bleeding nose and was now free of the dangling attacker.
It wasn't until years later, that I realized this tiny mouse with the pointy nose was actually a masked shrew. This species is found throughout most of North America, except in the southern and SW United States. Masked shrews are also found near forests in NE Siberia. Although shrews are reputed to have bad attitudes, the family dog had no doubt threatened this small mammal and got more than the mouse she expected...
3) A Shrew in the Pool Skimmer...
I can't tell if he came in through the wide area of the skimmer (which you cannot block) or the "finger lift" holes on the top of the cover (which you really cannot block either). I think a piece of wood... much like ledge... might provide a place to rest - but where would one put it? I'm just happy... and lucky... that the basket was turned up-side-down (and I'm not sure how that happened!)
So... in the meantime I'll just keep an eye out for shrews in need of help.
We live in Texas. Dallas, actually. Not sure what types of shrews might live around here... but glad we found that one. I'm a big animal lover... four dogs and a cat... I just think animals are great to share the world with. So finding the shrew was immediate responsibility for me... and I think it worked out right.