Drought: Five Animals and Pests You're Seeing More of, As They Search for Water

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Some of us were praying for rain even before it was mandated to do so. Houston's been teased more than a frat boy lately, especially early this morning, when chances of actual rain were forecast in the lofty 30 percentages! At 6 a.m. storm clouds gathered and it even smelled like rain. Then poof! The only precipitation that descended upon us was in the form of humidity in the 90s. (If you actually saw rain, will you please tweet us?)

Speaking of tweets, we're seeing more birds than an air traffic controller lately. You? After all, you can go into a pool, a walk-in refrigerator, a bar -- even a plane to take you out of this drought. But what about our little friends who lack passports and credit cards?

"We're getting hammered by everything right now," says Bert the Bug Man (a.k.a. Bert Bertrand, a licensed exterminator). "Smoky brown tree roaches are coming out of the sewer lines to hang in people's foliage because people are trying to keep their plants alive."

So we're not producing enough shite in this drought??

"We just killed a water moccasin off T.C. Jester. I hadn't seen one of those in a long time." Apparently, White Oak Bayou -- which ten years ago almost to the day crested its banks and flooded part of Houston -- wasn't giving the serpent what he needed. "We got a call from a lady who said he was heading for her swimming pool."

Here are the Top Five critters Houstonians are more likely to run into during this sultry siege. (The upside, of course, is that there have been far fewer mosquitoes):

5. Boids, as our uncle from the Northeast would say: Damn boids. Everywhere -- of every stripe and color. They're dive-bombing into any body of water they can find, and sometimes, that's a kamikaze mission. So do them a favor: Put out a dish of water for 'em. Not behind a clear pane of glass, that's beyond cruel. And sprinkle some bread crumbs around to help point the way. "Be kind to your fine-feathered friends/For a duck may be somebody's mother...."

4. Rats, and we don't mean Charlie Brown. Many say that by leaving out food and water, there's no telling what else you'll attract. The other school of thought is if you don't assuage the critters outside, they'll come in to get what you have inside.

One Southwest Houston resident said she was aghast when water dripped on her from her bedroom ceiling last week. She raced up to the attic to see if the air conditioner's drip pan was overflowing (if you have an a/c you're responsible for and you don't understand the impact of that statement, you'd best crank up your search engines. You're going to have to have some laundry bleach at the ready or, if that fails, have a dry wall repair company on speed dial). It wasn't, so what to do? She called her a/c repair guy, who found a pipe had been gnawed on.

"Rats," he proclaimed flatly. Those friggin' rodents will actually chew your a/c pipes to get to some moisture. We've heard they'll gnaw on the water hoses in a car, too, so have a ten-speed on backup during this siege.

3. Possums, which are quite entertaining to watch skittering across phone lines to get from one juicy yard to another. They're fairly frightening up close, though. We once had an outdoor laundry room and those prehistoric-looking bastards loved the gyration of the machines. They themselves don't gyrate much, though: Our neighbor had one scurry behind the refrigerator, presumably to die. He was lifeless and she couldn't reach him, so she called every male she knew to help get that sucker out. When they moved the monolithic appliance, he was gone. He must have been playing possum.

2. Other people's pets. Outdoor cats, we can understand. The big danger here is they may kill the birds in your yard to drink their blood. (Hint: Clear the cats from the room during Twilight and other fables of that ilk.) Dogs, though? Where the hell are all these loose dogs coming from? By loose we mean untethered and untagged. If someone lets their dog run loose, they probably haven't neutered them, either, which keeps this unfortunate cycle going.

1. And of course, number one is the ubiquitous roach. For some of you, they have always been the roommate you could count on to be there for you. Now, however, some of us are getting treated to the flying variety.

"They come in from the trees," says Tiese Jordan, who owns A Natural Woman's Touch, a housecleaning service that does not employ toxic chemicals. (Toxic chemicals don't work on roaches anyway.) Think about it from their perspective: Who wants to hang out on some sizzling bark when you can lounge on a throw pillow? Guaranteed whoever is next to rest on said pillow will dream of these winged beasts capable of surviving nuclear Armageddon -- doesn't matter whether it comes from weapons or your friendly baseload electricity generator.

Be sure to care for some critters while fighting off others.

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