Weekend Wanderer: Springtime Pests, Part Two

weekend wanderer

The dead mouse was bad enough. 

But the critter situation is so much worse than one long-dead mouse in the crawl space. 

You might remember the skinks living beneath my house.  

I thought they were snakes when they first showed up because, really. Am I getting close enough to the serpentine thing slithering up from the bowels of the earth to see if it has legs? 

No. The presence of legs is just splitting hairs. 

Yeah, Reptilia class, I said it. Splitting hairs. Don’t have a lot of those, do you? 

Now I know what skinks are. Wow. This article from Penn Live reads like old-school Stephen King

Skinks are egg-laying reptiles.  

Although some give birth to live young and I’m just not sure which is worse. 

That skinks are one of four lizards indigenous to Pennsylvania is only the beginning of the bad news. 

Pennsylvania also hosts four kinds of turtles and 21 snakes.  

Then there was that monitor lizard running around in Carlisle last week.  

Carlisle. That’s near our cabin. 

Monitors are not indigenous to Pennsylvania. Which means just one thing. 

I need to move somewhere inhospitable to exotic reptiles. The UPS driver who found that monitor lizard was just going about his business. I can’t just go about my business when lizards might show up. I’m not Jack Hanna. 

The skink situation in Pennsylvania is a rather unpleasant one. The five-lined skink lives in — wait for it — Bucks County

And everything south of it. 

I live in Bucks County, guys. Me. The state has one hub for five-lined skinks and I made it my home.  


Not to be outdone, the broadhead skink occupies the entire southeastern corner of Pennsylvania.  

And can grow to be a foot in length. 

You’re just a snake with legs at that point.  

We have two five-lined skinks living at our house. That’s 10 lines of skinky wretchedness. 

That the five-lined skink eats mice does not make them welcome in my home. I would rather have Willard-level mice than one skink. 

Well, Willard’s thing was rats. But you get my point. 

In an attempt to make peace with the skinks, I have named them. 

The skink in the garage is, for obvious reasons, Kato. Kato pokes his little head out from beneath the garage door when I get home, like a dog greeting its owner. 

No thank you, Kato. 

The five-lined skink under our deck is Walter White. 

I didn’t name him. My teenage son did. My husband and I are bingeing Breaking Bad with him. 

Listen. I’ve seen Breaking Bad already. I am not proud of this parenting decision. But we’re into season two and there’s just no turning back. 

Walter White likes to pop up onto the deck. I pretend Walter White doesn’t exist because if I think Walter White is chilling beneath the sofa while I’m drinking a Gose, well. I won’t be sitting on that sofa, will I? 

If I can’t sit on the deck sofa because of Walter White, and I can’t sit on the inside sofa because of the dead mouse, my sofa choices are incredibly limited. 

Walter White made it into the house once. I trapped him between a plastic food container and glass from a picture frame. It was not a good day. 

But the real problem — well, the real problem is the skink I call Mike Muncer.  

Mike Muncer lives in the crack in the step leading to my front door. Watching a skink skulk in and out of that crack is nightmare fodder.  

Worse, Mike Muncer is, I think, a broadhead skink. You know, the skink capable of growing to a foot in length. By eating insects.  

He’s not even earning his keep. At least Kato and Walter White eat mice. 

I’m picturing that — Kato and Walter White eating mice. If I walk into the garage — or onto the deck — and a skink is eating a mouse? Remember the end of Pet Sematary? When The protagonist’s hair turns white? 

Yeah. I told you this was Stephen King-level horror. 

Which brings me to why I’ve named the broadhead skink Mike Muncer. 

Mike Muncer hosts a podcast. Now that the Unsolved Mysteries podcast is unjustly defunct, Mike Muncer’s Evolution of Horror is the best podcast out there. It is analogous to Eli Roth’s History of Horror on AMC.  

When it comes to podcasts, Marc Smerling rocks, too. But we’re talking skinks, here. And skinks are just as much horror as Dracula, ghosts, and Jaws

Mike Muncer — the person, not the skink — often references the 1991 movie The People Under the Stairs. Which I’ve seen, of course. 

Just not enough to recall any character’s name. 

And since I’m endeavoring to love the skinks, why not name the worst of them after someone I dig? 

Ew. Dig. Imagine digging in the yard and a skink gets on you. Who cares about its diet or five lines when it’s running up your arm? 

“Why not seal over the crack?” my good friend recently asked.

I shuddered. What if sealing the crack trapped Mike Muncer under the house? What if the crawl space extends to the front steps? What if Mike Muncer is a foot long and living behind my sofa, feasting on errant spiders? 

No. There will be no sealing.  

Last week, I realized it had been some time since Mike Muncer stuck his ghastly head out from the crack. I caught myself hoping Mike Muncer hadn’t died. 

“Maybe a fox got him,” my husband said.  

I really wish he would stop trying to make the critter situation better. 

But on Sunday Mike Muncer was sprawled across our front walk, sunning himself in the Mother’s Day warmth. I found myself a bit relieved. Mike Muncer lives!  

Mike Muncer lives. 

Under the steps. 

That’s utter and complete horror. 

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