Invasion of the dassies

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SHEILA Stubbs’s home in Beacon Bay has been invaded by dassies. These rodents have been deemed a ‘problem’ by many residents as they breed and live in and near suburbs in East London.

“I respect animals, but the other day, while washing dishes, there was a big fat one just staring at me through the window,” said Stubbs whose home has been ‘visited’ by many wild animals over the years including a porcupine in her backyard and a leguaan (Nile monitor) in her ceiling.

Stubbs counted as many as 40 adult and baby dassies in and around her garden. Although Dassies generally do not dig, their padded feet have glands that produce a secretion which keeps their feet permanently moist. This helps them to climb up trees, branches and steep rocks making it very easy for them to climb over fences and use trees to enter people’s gardens.

PERMANENT RESIDENTS: Dassies inhabit large areas around the city and can become a pest. Beacon Bay, Nahoon and Dorchester Heights are the areas most affected by large populations of dassies. Picture: MARK ANDREWS

Beacon Bay, Nahoon and Dorcester Heights are the areas most affected by large populations of Dassies.

East London Museum scientist said: “There are isolated areas within suburbs that experience what some people may call an ‘excessive’ dassie population as they inhabited those areas before they became built up suburbs. They often look for drains and sewers to live in and can destroy gardens easily.”

From a Nature conservationist point of view Cole does not advocate taking any drastic actions. “It is very difficult because dassies are great climbers, breed regularly and are often not deterred by having a dog in the yard. If someone feels as though they really have a serious problem, the best advice is to call the SPCA or Museum for an on-site evaluation and take it from there.”

Often, simple extra fencing around your property can ameliorate the situation which was established as Stubbs’s best option to keep the dassies off her property. In other words, learning to accept and adapt to the presence of these guinea-pig-like animals is your best bet.

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