There were so many lovely comments about my last post, The Owl and the Pussycat… that I hunted on Youtube for videos of skunk sounds. Then I was perplexed – it didn’t sound like our noisy night visitors. Did our skunks speak in Spanish or had we developed a special language? Eventually I started researching all the other critters that live with us. Possums can hiss but don’t say very much. Skunks in the wild rarely talk at all. Raccoons have a very distinctive chatter – most of it is swear words. One of my neighbors is scared of raccoons, they are pretty feisty. I came to the rescue and chased the raccoon up a tree where he sat swearing at me (I think Puta was in there…)
What on earth was it? Light bulb moment! It is our little armed ones – Armadillos! What a wonderful surprise. Here is a link to a short video of their distinctive chirrup.
Can you imagine that little noise, all night long, from our extended Latin American immigrants? They wake up about 7 pm and start chirruping, ‘Bee Bee?” Teddy responds, “Beeee Beep?” and on it goes. Then I started reading about them. They like to dig burrows and they are all still under the deck including a new one. Curiously, they are happy to share their tunnels with skunks, possums and whoever else is there. Happy hippy commune, man! They aren’t predated by the Great Horned Owl but presumably they were all cuddled under the deck with skunks. Maybe their chirping was meant to be reassuring? They have very few predators and can live from 9 to 23 years. That probably means that we have lived with the same extended family for the last 13 years. Mami, Papi, Abuelita, Mijos – no wonder they talk with us. We are THEIR people; not the other way around!
Even better, they are insectivores and LOVE fire ants. Now I love my little armed ones with a passion… For some reason fire ants love to bite me. You are innocently gardening when one and then one hundred fire ants run up your leg, biting as they go. Your only recourse is to run to the outside faucet and rinse them all off. Then you get some lidocaine because it bloody hurts! Armadillos are funny looking little creatures but harmless unless you eat them undercooked (yes, people are hungry in Central America). Then you can contract leprosy from them – how weird is that? We would start naming them but Teddy counted about 50 one night, all communicating with each other. Imagine a busy barrio in Mexico.
Some years ago, Teddy got this wonderful little video of some baby armadillos snuffling about in the undergrowth looking for insects. They were silent and when I have seen them in our garden they went straight under the deck – they didn’t seem scared though and now I know why. It was their female person.