Furry creature incites fear, fascination

Published 10:24 am Friday, June 28, 2013

If one is going to sleep with one’s bedroom French doors cracked open onto the deck, to invite in the early, bug-free spring air, one has to expect things might come in from those above said French doors.


It was around midnight when we heard the cats; enjoying a nocturnal stroll through the open doors and onto the deck, suddenly begin a mad scramble, ending with the spine-chilling squeal only heard when a small animal of prey believes it is facing its own death.

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Leaping out of bed and fumbling through the darkness to shout ignored orders to stop the killing, something scurried over my bare foot, followed by a wave of overfed and greedy felines, showing more energy in that moment than in the last month.

“Grab the cats! Grab the cats!” I cried to Paul, who had switched on the bedside light and now sat up, rigid with fear, in the bed, sheets pulled up across his chest not unlike Claudette Colbert in ‘It Happened One Night.”

“What is it?” he asked, dreading the answer. “Where is it?”

Knowing no assistance would be forthcoming from the man of the house, I removed three cats to the landing and closed the door in their bewildered faces. Bonnie, furious from being roused from her sleep, growled as I scooped both her and Rosie up and placed them outside as well.

Pointing from the bed at his suitcase, yet to be put away from a recent trip, Paul declared with noticeable relief in his voice, “It’s a chipmunk!”

The ‘chipmunk’ was crouching next to the handle of the burgundy case and as I moved cautiously towards it, taking in its enormous liquid eyes and furry, flat tail, I corrected, “Aww, it’s not a chipmunk, it’s a baby squirrel!” At that point the creature, determined to prove me wrong, sprang forward, slapped against the wall then turned and glided to the top of the chest of drawers.

“Oh!” I amended, “It’s a flying squirrel!”

“Good bye.” said Paul, throwing his covers aside and clamoring out of bed, anxious to exit with alacrity.

“Oh, come on!” I said, “You’re not going to help me catch it?”

“Nope. Good bye.” he replied, reaching for the doorknob.

“At least take Mia with you,” I said, exasperated. “Get her out of the bathroom so I can herd him in there to catch him.”

As Paul capitulated enough to crack open the door, Mia shot out light a bolt of lightening and he just managed to get one hand on the back of her neck while protecting his own with his other hand, in case of a vampire-style attack. Both he and Mia were out of the room in a blink.

“It’s just a little flying squirrel,” I said to my departing man.

“I want nothing to do with it,” he said, clicking the door behind him. “I’ll be downstairs until the situation is resolved.”

“This is all about that ferret that bit you on the nose, isn’t it?” I shouted, but he had padded down the steps: (I would tell you more about that, but Paul refuses to discuss it. All he has ever told me is that he has revulsion for all things rodent or rodent-like in appearance, ever since the ferret incident. It’s this sort of tantalizing tidbit of intrigue that keeps romance alive, I’ve read; not knowing every single detail about your partner’s life before you.)

“Come on now, Steve,” I murmured to the squirrel, feeling that if I named him, he wouldn’t feel quite as much as an intruder. I plucked a towel from the handrail and, after a series of fits and starts, drove him into the bathroom, closed the door behind me and marveled at his athletic ability as he shimmied up the shower door and leapt to the pedestal sink where he found refuge, peeking round Paul’s shaving mug. It was here that I was able to handily drop the towel on top of his tiny body and carry him back to the deck to release him.

“It’s amazing,” I said brightly to Paul, a half hour later in bed, as I skimmed through “Fun Facts About Flying Squirrels” on a website. “Did you know that the record glide of these guys is 300 feet?”

“That a fact?”

“Mmm. And they’re nocturnal, which explains the huge eyes, and they go feeding at night, eating fruits and nuts and even the rotting flesh of dead animals, all the while gliding from tree to tree. Gosh, think of all the activity that goes on in the woods behind us at night!”

“Fascinating,” Paul said dully.

“And in parts of Asia, they grow to be four feet long!”

“Goodnight.” said Paul. “And lock the bloody doors.”