Category Archives: animals

Letting The Cat Out Of The Bag

Today, I will reveal a secret to all – it may upset some, though.

In my kampong days, we kept a couple of cats, Tom and Tabby. Before we knew it, they produced 3 kittens, and then another 3…and soon our house and compound began to look like a mini Safari park.  The young ones were very cute and playful.

But then the home stank…with all the cat-a-poo and cat-a-pee, and the  situation was near catastrophe. 

So we decided to put half of the tribe into a bag and took it to a far-off place, about a mile away and let the deportees out.  Problem solved – so we thought.   

Meow! About a week later, all 4 of them showed up at the house …. Amazing.    How did they do it?  Folklore said the felines could smell their way back!!

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Can’t Beat Them, Eat Them !

Please fasten your seat belts and get ready to puke !

Mice and rats are prolific breeders and have since time immemorial been the bane of human kind. They compete voraciously with us for food and also they spread many diseases.

So how to beat them ?  My dad told me that in his youth days, people used to hunt for freshly-born baby rodents (less than a day old or so) and then eat them alive, just like that, or else dipped in a sauce or wrapped with a large banana split.

Folklore maintained that those pinkish, hairless and blind newborns “were effective for treatment of asthma and a good general tonic for the human body”.

I learned that in China, this practice of “pest control” is still popular.  Anyone else game for this squeaky “delight”?

Playing Chicken In The Bridal Chamber

Decades ago, it was a tradition among the Chinese to engage in fowl play as part of the wedding ceremony for a newly-married couple.

After the formalities were done at the groom’s place, the wedding party would go to the bride’s home for the rituals at the maternal side. Accompanying their return to their matrimonial home would be a rooster and a hen, which would then be released under the newly-weds’ nuptial bed.  If the rooster emerged first, that “augured” the first-born child would be a son, if the hen came out first, then a daughter.

In Chinese these are called 带路鸡  (or ‘chua lor kay’ in Penang Hokkien)

These days I believe most couples would chicken out at the prospect of having two live specimens foul up their love nest; don’t worry there are lots of mock ones available.

I Snared A Rat …

This wire-mesh cage was one of the two fabled weapons used for snaring those sneaky pests in my old kampong house.

Fatal Attraction by the bait lured the victim into the cage, to tug at its last meal, thereby triggering the spring-loaded door.   The trapped rat would later be executed via drowning — with the whole cage submerged under water.

I have not seen this kind of trap for almost 4 decades now.   Not that rats have disappeared; in fact even in my ‘squeaky clean’ adopted country,  a resurgence in their numbers is seen in recent years.   Perhaps rodents have also become more promiscuous these days, in line with the New Morality.

But in Singapore, one has a new weapon, ie., Facebook.   One post is enough to send politicians scurrying for dear life.  Oops, smell a rat ?

Crouching Feline Hidden Rodent

That seemed like ages ago, in the earlier years of my childhood in the kampong.  When was the last time you saw a cat stalking and catching a rat or a mouse ?

We had one lean & mean Tommy boy, living on fresh rodent sashimi three meals a day. Alas, one day he went out and never returned.

The later replacements did not seem to be interested in hunting rats, mice or birds or anything that was alive.   They were contented to purr and brush their tails against our legs, waiting for some nice fried fish or meat or papayas (yes, papayas). Otherwise, they would do day-long siesta on the sofa with four legs facing the ceiling.

Had they made peace ?  Or eating rats wasn’t feline chic anymore ? Let us see if we can get an explanation in Lee Ang’s next blockbuster.

Botak Necks – An Unfeathered Fowl Expression

When I was a kid, we used to buy fertilized eggs from a dealer, took them home and then incubated them in a home-made incubator and waited for the chicks to hatch.  Slowly, one, two…and then three,..and then soon we had a small brood.

Now and then, we got some chicks which had a bare zone around the necks.  Completely botak.   We called them “Japanese chicks”, but to this day I don’t know why they had this feature.   Could be due to some Exhibitionistic traits in their DNA ?

I think the chance of getting one was less than 1:20, so whenever one showed up in the new batch, the siblings would often fight for the right to “own” it.

Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They Are Meshed

Anyone remembers that kind of wire netting, with repeating hexagonal patterns ?  Yes, it is Chicken Wire Mesh, or simply Chicken Wire.   How did you use it ?

Many years ago, this kind of galvanized steel wire netting was very popular in the kampong.   Due to its low cost, flexibility and ease of cutting and forming, it found widespread use –  besides keeping our fowls from accidentally wandering into our neighbors’ cooking pots, or laying their eggs elsewhere.  LOL !

We also used it to build a fence – with wooden frames – around my kampong house, mainly to keep out stray dogs and unwanted guests.  The mesh itself was not very strong – a dog could bite through if it was determined enough, especially if some corrosion had set in.