Saturday, February 13, 2010

A New Visitor

We had a visitor on our porch last night that I have never seen before, but I knew what it was because the local paper did an article on them just last week. It's called a Ringtail, or a Miner's Cat. It was sitting on the back porch eating sunflower seeds around four in the morning. At first, I thought I was looking at my chihuahua! It has large ears, large eyes, the body of a cat and the tail of a raccoon. They are solitary animals that only get together to mate. They have a loud, barking sound, but they're generally very quiet and shy. They are also extremely agile and do things like flatten their bodies to squeeze into places. They even do cartwheels. They use their huge tails for balance. Their tails are much bigger than raccoons.

It was a wonderful experience. He was watching me through the window and sat on the table until the cat finally spotted him and ran to the door, then he took off. I had a feeling we've had more visitors lately because we've been going through so much food at night. Generally, after the raccoons leave, there's still a little food left for the birds and squirrels to hold them over until I get out of bed and fill their dishes, but lately, every last little seed disappears. My husband also said he thought he saw a cat leaving the garage late one night when he checked on the barking dogs, but when I looked out the window, I saw a raccoon tail, so I assumed it was a raccoon. I'm guessing it was the Ringtail.

Our house is filled with ladybugs. Our roof fell apart during all the rain and we had to wait a long time for the insurance agent to come check it out. When the roof started leaking my husband took down some tiles, and suddenly, our house is filled with ladybugs. They must be breeding in the ceiling. They are on my clothes, my computer, walls, ceiling, everywhere. I've tried to rescue as many as I could and put them back outside. It's sixty degrees out there right now so they should be happy!

The baby rabbits have definitely left their nest, but I think it's time to start watching for sparrow nests. I still have at least thirty of the original sparrows flocking around my house and I believe the hawk has moved on for good--we haven't seen him for a couple of weeks. I would love to set up some kind of sparrow apartment building for them, but it would be very tricky--between the squirrels, hawks, raccoons and ringtails, there sure are a lot of predators around here!

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