Wild Suburbia

Backyard critters can be a real mood killer.

In every jungle, the lion sleeps tonight. In suburbia, however, the backyard critters hardly rest. 

Have you ever seen a squirrel sleeping? Probably not. But if you do, ask him if he’s friends with a skunk that sprays Chanel No. 5.

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When I moved to King of Prussia, I thought I’d left the untamed menagerie that populated my parents’ forest-like outdoor perimeter, where I grew up collecting pheasant feathers, spotting deer, and screaming at the sight of possums. Now more than ever, such species are feeling the squeeze. What was once their natural habitat is now, say, a Wegmans. Sadly, they’ve been forced to find other suitable accommodations.  

In my yard. 

And if you’ve had a trash can overturned and seen those telltale claw marks, they’re probably in yours, too. Or perhaps you’ve awoken to find your summer landscaping munched to nothing. 

When my husband, Tom, and I moved to our quarter acre in KOP, the only wildlife I expected to see were the cougars at the Seasons 52 bar. 

“What is that?” I recall saying one night, during a particularly engrossing episode of Scandal. I was convinced that someone—or something—wanted to join me on the couch, but lost the nerve once he/she/it got to the doorbell.

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“Is that you?” I asked Tom, who was on his laptop, oblivious to the odor. But I knew he could never produce such a smell. 

After the nocturnal skunk clocked out, the groundhog began its day. After breakfast, I opened the back door to put out the trash and appeared to be interrupting his morning smoke break. OK, so the groundhog wasn’t smoking—but he did give me that “Get the hell off my land” look.

No, wait. This is my house—and he’d been digging holes so wide and deep that I’d twisted my ankle in one of them.

“Go away!” I barked. 

The groundhog stood on its hind legs, but he didn’t move. The next morning, he was a few feet closer to the house, giving me that “You again?” look. 

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“Hey, what are you doing?” I posed, trying to take a diplomatic approach. 

He flipped me off. (Well, he would’ve if he had fingers.)

Friends of ours in Wayne are dealing with a foodie fox that routinely visits their trash to savor delectable scraps from their dinner parties. The solution: a heavy-duty Brute with a lid that locks tight. The critters may be closing in, but at least they don’t have opposable thumbs. 

Katie Bambi-Kohler really wants penguins in her backyard. Visit www.katiekohler.com or email kkohler1129@gmail.com.

ILLUSTRATION by sara franklin

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