Mouse eats knickers

A mouse has just run over my foot whilst I was getting underwear out of the cupboard. Thus I have now linked two minor events that happened in the last week where I spotted:

1. holes in my knickers

2. a mouse running into our bedroom during the night.

This will teach me for letting my knickers fall to the bottom of the cupboard.

This is just one of the beasties which enjoy sharing our human world in Madagascar. Here are the other top offenders, all impressive creatures in their own right, with my most hated at the top.

Aedes Aegypti Mosquito Enemy number one that inspire me to irrational hatred. They are everywhere, they buzz, they give you itchy bites and they carry life threatening diseases. I’m sure there’s an ecological reason they exist (food for something much cuter I expect). They are amazing only in that they are all over the world so must be an incredibly effective species at reproducing. But this is one time I’d really like the human race to dominate – wipe the buggers out!

I have personal experience of one of the maladies they carry, Chikungunya, which is still giving me joint pain.

Madagascar is well known (amongst cockroach fans) for its large, hissing variety of cockroach, the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.

Apparently these are not the ones that I sometimes find crawling through the grill over the plug hole in my shower (how can something that big get out of such a small holes?)

There’s something about them that just makes me nose wrinkle and my skin crawl. We don’t get many of them in our house – about one a week. But they are so big and they scuttle – really fast. The only way to pick them up is by your hand because with any other method they run off whatever implement you’ve used and up your arm.

It’s one of the few times I go quite girly and go, head tilted on one side, and ask Jean to get rid of them for me. He points out that I have to learn to do it myself. So far, the squealing and head tilting is working fine for me.

From looking at the Wikipedia pages given above I’ve learned that they can climb smooth glass – which I actually discovered when I looked up from brushing my teeth to find one on the mirror in front of me, waving its antenna smugly at me.

There’s a hole at the corner of my street where they all pour out of at night – cockroach horror movie style.

I’ve had pet rats and think they are splendid animals. But we all know they shouldn’t be running around your house. And now I have a baby boy in the house, I especially don’t want big rats which are partial to chewing little limbs. I’ve seen one run through the area at the back of the house and in the next door neighbour’s garden in the last week.

However, the most memorable encounter with a rat – and one of my most memorable Madagascar moments – was in August, not long after I’d got back. I’d spent the day investigating a smell in the kitchen. I’d cleaned everything. At 6pm we found the dead rat that had fallen and got squashed between the back of the fridge and the grill, thus slowly cooking said rat until all its rotting juices poured out into the drip tray. Gag, gag, gag.

I am delighted to read this article, Plague; a Reemerging Disease in Madagascar, which confirms that:

“In the last 15 years, Madagascar (population 13 million) has accounted for 45% of the cases of plague in Africa.”

Luckily, it’s not in my town – but it’s not far away.

These are one of the most fascinating animals on the planet and I wish no individual any harm. However, it’s their pesky effectiveness which makes them so infuriating. Even if you clean your kitchen so there’s not an ant to be found, drop a grain or rice and it’s a party. And I’m tired of clearing out pots full of ant infested food before I’ve had my morning tea because they’ve managed to find where the lid doesn’t fit properly.

And today’s new entry – mice. I’ve been aware of a single mouse that I have seen over the past few weeks but I think they’re cute and our house in England had them for years. Of course, I know enough about small rodents to realise that this solitary mouse is in fact probably a gang (or harem). So, the traps will come out. Small rodents with a penchant for Marks and Spencers white cotton briefs are getting too close to my precious little boy. Off with their heads!


Minor annoyances of Madagascar

Munched linen dressCloth eating bugs

Sorted through a bag of clothes I’d left here yesterday, to discover that they too had been decimated by some clothes eating bugs.

I’ve no idea what they are so I attach a photo so that someone can tell me. Whatever they are I watched with smug satisfaction as the ants cleared away dozens of them in less than 3 minutes – ant Christmas apparently.

Luckily the orange dress that they were most partial to was one I got made whilst recovering from Chikungunya (type of Dengue Fever) so it was much too small. Especially as I got pregnant a month later and, unlike Malagasy mothers, gained some pounds (see post You are so fat).

Cloth bugs and ant

Power cuts

It’s been a bad week for power cuts. Saturday evening we lost power at 6pm for the next 13 hours. Sunday it cut at 7am for the next 25 hours. Last night we lost it at 6pm and it’s still not back on at 7.15 the next morning.

And the internet café was off yesterday at different times when I went up there so I had 2 wasted trips.

I don’t suffer too badly because of my laptop which has a decent battery and contains my music, films, games and writing. And we go to bed here so early (mixture of having a baby and natural rhythm with darkness) that the lack of light isn’t a disaster. However, I don’t like waking to breastfeed a baby in mosquito filled darkness.

Flip flop wounds

Two days ago I was delighted to get a rare chance to walk somewhere without my son but disappointed to get blisters on the top of both feet from my supposedly sensible flip flops (thongs to Americans).

Being the tropics, both of these minor afflictions are now infected and oozing puss and blood. Out comes the betadine (iodine). I was told it is best to dilute iodine rather than use it neat otherwise it kills all the white blood cells trying to fight the infection. Not sure that science is correct but less is more was the conclusion.

[Note (added November 2007) it took 2 months for these wounds to heal and have left sensitive ‘stains’ on both feet so I still have to be careful with shoes that touch the affected areas.]

Sorting things out

A treat for ants
My precious commodity from home of breakfast cereal was this morning attacked by ants. I’d looked at my box of cereal last night and thought ‘Hmm – the ants will find that. Must put it in something’.

Well, I paid for my fingers-crossed approach as I spent an hour sorting through my cereal flake by flake squashing all the ants. All safe now – phew (the cereal not the poor ants).

Car negotiations
While I was fixing my cereal, Jean was involved in the next stage of negotiations with the owner of a car we might buy. It’s me that’s going to buy it but I’m not involved at all in the discussions – best leave it to the Malagasy men – vazahas always likely to pay a higher price and I don’t understand the subtleties of Malagasy negotiation. They’re currently playing hard ball over the price.

Shower head
Jean found a shower head in his stuff that fits perfectly onto our shower pipe. Reminds me of my war era Dad – always managed to find spare parts lying around.