A Visit From the Wetapunga
I’ve been busy over the past couple of weeks working on a web site for our farm revegetation project and I plan to unveil it next week. But the past few days have made me rethink the whole concept of Me In A Rural Context.
I mentioned recently that we had to deal with a bovine incursion at the farm. I don’t know whether it’s worse or not, but the most recent incursion, and this time into the farm house itself, has been in the form of mice. The paint is hardly dry on the house and we’ve already got mice!
They tell me that when you are on a farm you have to get used to these sorts of things. That rodent infestations are not a reflection on your hygiene. Mice in the house are sort of like flies or spiders.
Now they tell me.
We were up at the farm recently and I was doing farm stuff in the garage when I thought I saw something that looked suspiciously like mouse poop. No sooner had I bent down for a hanta virus risking closer look, than the silence was rent by a shriek from my wife in the house. A mouse had streaked across the floor.
We went to the hardware store to arm ourselves with some traps. Lest you accuse me of overkill, I won’t tell you how many we bought. My rationale was that I didn’t know exactly where the mouse was coming in and where it was spending its time, so a sort of carpet of mousetraps seemed like a wise approach.
Within hours of laying the traps the intruder was dispatched. Poor thing never had a chance.
Or so I thought. The next afternoon when I heard the unmistakable shriek again. Apparently he had brought a friend.
We were heading back to town that evening, so I baited the traps before we left. We wouldn’t be back for a few days so I didn’t know whether to hope for success or not. The only thing worse than disposing of a dead mouse is disposing of a dead mouse that has been dead for a few days.
Last night we returned to the farm. We pulled into the garage and there, obligingly, was a dead mouse lying on the floor. I didn’t know whether he’d had a heart attack on seeing the gauntlet of traps I’d lain out or what, but I wasn’t going to complain.
After disposing the corpse in the newly christened mouse cemetery, I went into the house itself and found another dead mouse in one of the traps.
Clearly, an invasion was in progress.
I disposed of that one and got down to the wonderfully fun job of getting rid of all the mouse poop. It’s not a fun job and the worst thing is that you find it everywhere. I kept asking myself how did they get up there?
Once the sweeping up was done it was time to do some mopping. I went into the garage to get the implements and glanced at a box in the corner.
How did those twigs get there? I asked myself.
A closer inspection revealed that what was sticking out from behind the box weren’t twigs at all. They were the back legs of another thing you don’t ever want to encounter anywhere, much less in the house.
What next? I asked myself for the third or fourth time that night.
If you are a fan of The Lord of the Rings you may have heard of Weta Workshops. They are the people who do all the fancy computer graphics in movies. Do you know how Weta got its name?
It’s named after the weta, a giant bug indigenous to New Zealand. The full name for the giant weta is wetapunga which in Maori means ‘the god of ugly things.’ It’s well named.
A weta basically looks like a giant grasshopper. Except that they are 8 inches long (actually only 4 inches if you don’t count the feet and antennae).
So finding one of those in a dark corner of the garage at night after having battled back an onslaught of mice was almost enough to turn me back into a committed urbanite.
Although they look hideous, wetas are a very good thing. For one thing, they are indigenous and endangered (then why are they in my garage??) and they help spread native vegetation, which is the whole point of our project.
So we escorted him outside (at arm’s length) to continue a normal weta life.
But I was wondering.
I found the weta in a corner not far from where the dead mouse lay. The mouse didn’t show any signs of trauma but I wondered if he had tried to mix it up with the weta and came out the loser? I mean, wouldn’t this scare you?
Wetas 1, Mice 0.
And, by the way, Humans 4, Mice 0.