RJ was sitting at the counter rearranging newspaper sections when I entered the kitchen. “We trapped something last night,” he announced.
“Really?” I poured a little coffee into my mug of Land O Lakes Fat Free Half and Half. “What is it this time?” Chances were greater than us catching the armadillo that it wasn’t an armadillo.
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know,” I repeated as I stirred three packets of Splenda into my coffee-flavored cream. “I better go see what we caught.”
RJ sipped his normally-prepared coffee. “Don’t bother. He broke out.”
“Let’s pretend I’m surprised. How did he get out?”
“Forced his way through the trap door.”
“I’m confident this mystery animal is a she.”
“Well,” RJ said. “He/she bent the spring loaded bar that locks the door almost in half. Bent it back so far that he…”
“She,” I interjected.
“…Was able to force the door to unlatch and he escaped.”
“Impressive,” I said. “What animals around here are small enough to fit in the cage and strong enough to bend it and break out? Since you used worm for bait again, I’m going to find out which native species eat worms.”
I poured another cup of cream and coffee and headed to the office. My Google search results for ‘animals that eat worms’ produced 242,000 results. I modified the search to ‘Ozark animals that eat worms.’
“Hon,” I said. “Do we have badgers?”
“Is a fox too far-fetched?”
“They’re too smart.”
“Now you’re just stereotyping. Do you think juvenile Razorbacks would dare cross the Arkansas state line?”
RJ shrugged. “Probably. Maybe it was a woodchuck.”
“According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, woodchucks are herbivores.”
“Maybe he needed protein.”
“I don’t think it was a woodchuck. I bet it was a raccoon.” I Googled ‘raccoons natural diet.’ “Did you know raccoons use their front paws like hands? Did you know they rinse their food in water? And did you know raccoons eat worms?”
“Yes, yes and no,” RJ answered. “A raccoon makes sense. I concede.”
“Female raccoon,” I said.
“I think it was our armadillo that escaped from the trap last night. He’s stronger and smarter than your average ‘dillo.”
“Well, if that were true you should call him Mr. Ed and I should go eat worms.”