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Snafflehoundus Terriblus


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TWISPTED REALITY (A monthly opinion column)


Snafflehoundus terriblus


Methow Valley News / July 6, 2005


The shenanigans of snafflehounds can drive even the most pacifistic of people to a state of rodenticidal rage.


Two climbers apparently coined the term snafflehound in 1938 while climbing in the Bugaboo Mountains in Canada. During the night, cat-sized rodents ate their rations, their ropes and their boots. They named these voracious animals “snafflehounds.”


The same species of snafflehound that terrorizes climbers and campers is the most notorious rodent in the Methow. Technically, snafflehounds are bushy tailed wood rats, or Neotoma cinerea . Most in the Methow simply refer to them as pack rats.


Because of their nocturnal noisiness and petty larceny, pack rats are undesirable housemates. However, they tend to move in uninvited. As anyone who has ever tangled with a snafflehound will attest, evicting these wily and tenacious critters is no easy matter.


My first snafflehound experience started out subtly enough. Coins, silverware, carabiners and screwdrivers started disappearing. Lacking faith in my short-term memory, I figured I’d just misplaced the items.


One night I looked out my window and witnessed a huge rodent with big ears and a furry tail dragging my cordless drill off the deck. It all started to make sense. Then the snafflehound moved in.


I hardly slept the next week. Each night, all night, I lay in bed while the snafflehound inside the walls and ceiling scratched, chewed and made a racket louder than a dance troupe of drunken cloggers brawling on a tin roof.


Intending to relocate the snafflehound, I bought a “Have-a-Heart” brand live trap. The rodent ignored it. Instead he chewed a hole through the mosquito screen on my window, pilfered my alarm clock and proffered a huge pile of pack rat scat on my pillow.


Murder in my heart, I returned to the store and bought a supposedly lethal device called “The Better Rodent Trap.” I baited it with peanut butter and dog food. As evidenced by the yellow puddle next to the sprung (but empty) trap the next morning, all the trap did was scare the piss out of the snafflehound.


As if to mock me, the snafflehound chewed apart my phone cord, stole an engraved compass with sentimental value, peed on my favorite chair, and ate the cover plus the first 47 pages of Mammals of the Northwest.


Once again I returned to the store, bleary-eyed from lack of sleep. This time I bought an old-fashioned rat trap: nothing fancy, just time-tested, spring-loaded death. Or so I hoped. Each night I would bait it with tasty treats. Each morning I would discover the trap sprung, the bait gone. Out of respect for the snafflehound’s escape artistry, I named my elusive nemesis “Houdini.”


Nearing wits end, I turned to Sun Tzu for advice. “Pretend to be weak, that your enemy may grow arrogant. Hold out baits to entice him. Feign disorder, and crush him,” wrote the ancient Chinese military philosopher in his book, The Art of War .


As if conceding defeat, I abandoned my cabin to the snafflehound and slept outside on the porch. Inside, I scattered dog food on the floor to lure the pack rat and lull him into complacency. Sensing an ambush, Houdini kept a low profile for several days. I sweetened the bait, laying out a shiny galvanized joist hanger, a pair of dice, a socket set and some chopsticks.


That night, I heard the snafflehound dragging something across my floor. I jumped out of my sleeping bag and through the open door into my cabin. Momentarily startled by the sight of a sleep-deprived madman naked as a plucked turkey and wielding a .357, the pack rat froze, eyes wide, nose twitching. Before I could shoot, Houdini darted behind the books in my bookcase.


Intent on rodenticide, I slowly pulled book after book off the shelf. Finally, the rat was cornered somewhere between Desert Solitaire and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas .


I split the difference and shot Mark Twain through the spine. Huckleberry Finn and the snafflehound exploded in a deafening blast of blood, fur, guts and literary greatness.


I had finally succeeded in relocating the snafflehound - to another plane of existence. I slept well for a month. Then the next snafflehound arrived. But that’s a different story.




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A snafflehound chewed my pack waist-strap just last wk on Booker - but left my food alone. Don B., however, had a snafflehound sized hole eaten into his pack.


A number of New Yrs' ago I ran into the BCMC having their winter basecamp at a hut S of the Joffre area. Everyone partied, especialy Cecil the resident snafflehound. Looking through the hut log, most everyone had something to say about Cecil. Someone had even gone to the trouble of carving a bat in an effort to threaten Cecil into good behavior.


After celebrating Newyears for every timezone in North America (including Newfoundland wich is a half hour different) most of us made it back to our sleeping bags to call it a night. The BCMC folks were using the hut only for cooking, and wisely spent the night outside in their own tents. Not being so prepared, I slept in the hut w/ Cecil. Well actualy I *tried* to sleep. I swear that varmit was on speed. He kept running around and around the walls of the hut, usualy taking a shortcut across the top of me. The complete circut of the hut took only seconds, I swear he must have spent over half his time airborn.


Shortly before dawn me and Cecil came to an agreement. Durring one of his circuits around the hut, he landed on my hand and I was able to fling him all the way accross the hut to land w/ a very satisfying thump against the opposite wall before landing on the snow melt pot w/ a crash. For the remainder of my stay, Cecil stayed to his side of the hut, and I stayed on mine!

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I heard somewhere that skunks are good at hunting rats.
What you want is a corn snake. One time our cat brought in a live rat through the doggie door and it got loose in the house. We let one of the corn snakes after it. The snake found the rat in minutes and was retrieved with a bulge in its neck and a satisfied look on its reptilian face.
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A cat? A skunk? A corn snake? I can hear the snafflehounds snickering from here. They are more wily than coyote, funkier than a skunk and use corn snakes to floss their teeth after a night out carousing. Trying to scare a snafflehound with one of these creatures is a more laughable proposition than making sweet love to a rabid badger.

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Oh sorry UT, I meant a trained killing machine....ya know, a cat that hunts like a lion and pounces like a tiger...not one of those fat ass american cats like in the fat cat thread. snaf.gif


obviously you know my cat--he stood by while we chased a mouse out of the house with a broom. lame cat hadn't even caught the mouse and turned it loose in the house. it had made it in through the wood storage door thingy!

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  • 3 years later...

Yah, up on glacier peak the snaffles ate through a side of our tent while we were gone, and ate all our food, found a squeeze bottle of margerine, sprayed it all over the tent contents, especially my sleeping bag and zipper, then proceeded to eat my zipper to a malfunctioning mass, put on or drag a pair of my boxers, chew another side of the tent for their escape, and abandon the mess.

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I saw the trickster briefly, about a month ago, at the Twisp River Pub. Doesn't sound like he's been climbing much, for various reasons, building his house one of the main things. If you get to Twisp, be sure to stop in at the TRP & rattle his cage a bit. I did mention to him that he's had a bit of a revival here... & deservedly so it seems.

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