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We have an ermine, or maybe an ermine has us. You never know right at the beginning.

Last night, Stephanie and I had put both squids to bed and were settling down to make our way through another episode of Lost when we heard some papers rustling again. Like smoke before the Others, the sound of paper rustling seems to always precede his visits. Maybe he likes to read. Maybe he’s just nosy and wants to know what our bills are like. Anyway, as soon as we knew he was here for a visit, we quickly did those last second things you do when company arrives unexpectedly: turn off the TV, jump up and look around to survey the current state of things, act like you were totally prepared for drop in company. We never are.

About two weeks ago, Stephanie and are were in a similar attitude of repose, munching on a bowl of Pop Secret Homestyle, when we heard something fall from the kitchen counter to kitchen floor. Nonplussed, I went to investigate.

In September, I came home one day to Stephanie telling me that we had a ferret or some similar squirrel-brown animal nosing around our trash in the arctic entry. I knew she was mistaken, and I chided her gently before dismissing her entirely. There are no ferrets in this country and the only animals that could conceivably be mistaken for a ferret are far too reclusive to be dropping by our place in search of opportunity. We do see some aggressive little ground squirrels, and I was sure that this is what Stephanie had seen.

Two months later, as I peeked into the kitchen to see what was stirring, I saw the little guy: He was small – about 8 inches long, snow white all over except for the tip of his tail, the tip of his nose and his large eyes which were all black, and he was something resembling a ferret. And he was cute. He was like “I want to pick him up and make him my friend and from time to time he will burst into song with all of his woodland friends” cute. (Damn that Disney. They lie.) When he saw me he stopped, looked up at me, gave me a wink, and ran under the stove.

Knowing he was cornered there, I called Stephanie in to come see. He popped his head out every minute or so to see if we were still there before retreating again. He was a cute little guy and whenever he showed himself, like Stuart Little’s country cousin, I expected the voice of Michael J. Fox to give a sheepish hello.


I held him at bay behind the stove while directing Stephanie to build a barricade of boxes and other articles that would keep him in the kitchen if he tried to run. With barricade in place, I moved in. Of course when I got too close, he made a run for it. The little rat jumped nimbly over our barricade, but we didn’t negotiate it quite so well. I gave chase, and with boxes crashing and feet sliding in socked feet, we looked like that scene in The Rescuers when Bianca and Bernard are running lose on Madam Medusa’s river boat, Brutus and Nero are chasing them around, and shotguns are going off with all manner of other chaos. It was like that. (That Disney, they get things right!) Anyway, he scurried down a previously unknown hole behind our clothes dryer and was gone.

At least until we heard that paper rustling sound again last night. We got up and looked around the corner, and there he was, looking up at us with those large night-vision eyes and then skittering away.

So, it’s not as if we have a rat. It isn’t like our first thought is “kill it.” But Stephanie’s research has found that, though these things eat rats and mice, they probably aren’t the best things to have around the wee-ones. Last time I was in Fairbanks, I picked up a rat trap – just in case. But I think we’re adopting a wait-and-see approach, rather than splatter the little guy’s innards all over our dryer.

Posted on Thursday, December 7, 2006 at 08:22PM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell | Comments2 Comments

Reader Comments (2)

If it is possible, the older squid certainly would love a pet like that, he looked so lovable and cute. But this little fella is a wild un-tamed beast, so I suppose you'd have to do something soon, before you leave! He (is it a he?) will have a party and invite his friends when he knows he can come and go unchallenged and someone (Steph) provides the party goodies. :-)
December 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDad
How is Herman? Still kicking it or did he kick the bucket??

PS. That picture is so cute!!
December 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMel

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