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What's in Your Mailbox? - Mailbox Infestations and More - Part Two Warm and Fuzzies

Although many are mystified by his mysterious moniker, Mel Carriere is a San Diego mailman who writes about the mail, among other things.

Enough with the innocent "Who me?" act already, Phil.  Thanks for cursing letter carriers with one of the worst winters ever.

Enough with the innocent "Who me?" act already, Phil. Thanks for cursing letter carriers with one of the worst winters ever.

Mammals Make Mailmen Miserable

At times it appears that every mammal that hopped, pawed or clawed its way out of the ark after the ever tipsy Noah crashed it against the slopes of Ararat is in conspiracy against the United States Postal Service and its employees. Of course, when mammals and postal employees are mentioned in the same sentence it is usually in conjunction with the canine family of the mammalian class of animals. But since this article deals primarily with animals found in mailboxes, then unless we're talking about teacup Chihuahuas or little yapping Yorkies it is highly unlikely, though certainly not impossible, that dogs will be encountered inside of one. Therefore, because I've already written enough about dogs in this venue to open up my own wing of the Library of Congress we will skip the pooches for now and focus on other aggravating endothermic (warm-blooded) critters.

There is one mammal that is not generally found in mailboxes but bears mention here because of all the grief he caused letter carriers the previous winter. This is the famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, that rascally rodent who causes winters to be long or short based upon his capricious fuzz-brained whims regarding whether or not he sees his shadow on February 2nd. Well, this year Phil neglected to spot it and was responsible for about 6 more weeks of an already horrible winter that froze a record 93% of the Great Lakes and had letter carriers east of the Rockies bundling up thicker than scientists at the South Pole. And while most people say it was just random chance that the practical joking little rodent didn't see his shadow, I have watched the video myself and I don't think he was really looking for it. For this reason letter carriers in many parts of the country were cursed with one of the worst winters ever, and once again they can blame a mammal for their misery.

Besides groundhogs, by far the worst mammalian monstrosity to influence mail delivery and do completely inappropriate things inside of mailboxes is an animal that is very near and dear to most of our hearts, and this is the species known as Homo sapiens. Just in case you flunked eighth grade biology that would be human beings, people - just plain us, knucklehead! Anyhow, because the human mammal does such vulgar and disgusting things in and around mailboxes I have reserved an entire article for people, which means I am saving the best (meaning worst) for last.


A Recap

To refresh your memory, this article is one of a series that consists of the following four parts. Please note that the title of Part 3 has now been changed.

  • Part One - Creepy Crawlies (Insects and Bugs)
  • Part Two - Warm and Fuzzies (Mammals, Marsupials, and perhaps other warm-blooded creatures)
  • Cold and Clammy (Formerly Slimeballs - consisting of reptiles and possibly amphibians)
  • Homo Sapien Horrors (Human beings and the disgusting items they leave in mailboxes)

Most of the true-life letter carrier experiences that will be recounted here came in response to the following Facebook query:


Rodent Refugees

Although we will find out later that there are plenty of disgusting exceptions to the rule, most members of the Homo sapiens mammalian species recognize a mailbox as a place for the mailman to deposit letters in and to pick up outgoing mail from. Other mammals sometimes seem to have a problem with this standard definition, however. To them a mailbox can also be a warm, dry den on a post that serves either as a maternity ward in which to give birth to small, cuddly furries or a dry, safe place to ride out the flood when the levee breaks and Momma says it's five foot high and risin'.

For this reason letter carriers sometimes get surprises of the squeaky, fuzzy form when they pop open a mailbox lid and insert their tender digits inside. The above photo is a perfect case in point. Elijah of Martins Ferry, Ohio learned about the multiple mammalian functions of mailboxes when he found these newlywed, honeymooning mice making themselves cozy inside of one. He actually didn't see the rodents when he stuck his hand in and didn't know there was anything irregular inside until he felt something wriggling beneath his startled fingers.

Unfortunately, mammals tend to claim squatters rights in mail receptacles, and once they've set up housekeeping evicting them can become problematic, as mail-lady LoEne from an undisclosed location found out. According to LoEne, a mouse in a mailbox "just stared at her" when she opened the door, but instead of putting up a fuss LoEne wisely closed the lid and drove away. When dealing with raging rodents sometimes retreat is the best option.

An irate squirrel lodges a complaint with the Postmaster about letter carriers who keep sticking their hands into his nut stash.  I know that sounds completely inappropriate but there I said it.

An irate squirrel lodges a complaint with the Postmaster about letter carriers who keep sticking their hands into his nut stash. I know that sounds completely inappropriate but there I said it.

Squirrel Stash

I'm not going to sit here and tell you that our fellow mammals are dumber than we are, because I am the first to recognize that they are not. I just want to remind you of something I said before, which is that different creatures can have different definitions for the same object. For instance, when my therapist shows me a picture of a mailbox the first thing that pops into my head is "mailbox," along with all of the emotional trauma associated with that object, none of it relating to my mother. On the other hand, when a squirrel sits on the couch and sees the same picture he starts salivating a little as he thinks about what a perfect place it would be to store his acorns and maybe curl up on top of this stash to take a long winter's nap.

It seems unusual, but these bushy tailed nut hoarders and letter carriers are by no means strangers. As proof, here's what the very articulate Mail-lady BaLynda in New London, Wisconsin had to say about squirrels and mailboxes.

"It was a beautiful day for delivering mail. While making my rounds without hesitation I dropped the mail in a box that had the lid already up. A squirrel immediately popped up and started chattering angrily at me. Scared the daylights outta me! Evidently, this squirrel didn't appreciate me putting mail in his new nuts storage container. I still giggle when I think about how I upset that squirrel."

Don't feel too smug, BaLynda, because when that squirrel is sitting around chillin' with his squirrel bros he still gets a good giggle about how he scared the daylights out of you.

Mailman Jeffrey from Wherever, USA also had a run-in with a squirrel that was "Riding out a storm," in a mailbox, but he would not elaborate on the encounter except to say that "It didn't end well for me." Rayna in Bremerton, Washington and Linda in St. Albans, West Virginia both found dead squirrels in a box, so obviously those times it didn't end well for the squirrel. Do mailboxes also make cozy, comfortable places for warm-blooded creatures to curl up in and draw their last breaths?

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Cats in Collection Boxes

Sometimes two-legged mammals make use of four-legged animals to pull silly pranks on the post office, often out of a desire for vengeance. Maybe the cruel and unfeeling letter carrier refuses to pick up a customer's stampless outgoing mail, for instance, or perhaps the mailman pepper-sprayed their pooch and now it is payback time. What do I know? There are probably a thousand good reasons to exact revenge on letter carriers by scaring them right out of their cute little blue shorts.

This is the reason that mammals are sometimes forced into mail-related devices even though they normally steer clear from them, and from those tomb-like depths they share the unsuspecting letter carrier's nightmare. More specifically, many letter carriers across America have reported finding cats in collection boxes. As such, we see that the iconic blue letter receptacles that adorn America's streets sometimes become torturous hostiles for the unfortunate felines that stray into the trap of devious jokesters.

Don in Arkansas found what he described as "a big tomcat" in one of his collection boxes. He says "When I dropped down that door all he wanted was OUTTA THERE!" Don then describes how he very nearly had to go home and change his postal-issue pants after this encounter with the enraged feline furrball.

Collection box encounters of the feline kind often do not end well for either human or animal. Another Donald, whom I assume is from New York because he wears his Mets gear proudly, came across a dead cat in a mailbox. Doreen in Laramie, Wyoming found a skinned cat, a victim of a horrible act that I understand can be done in more than one way, but most of us prefer not be done at all. This unspeakable cruelty only goes to support my thesis once again that Homo sapiens is the biggest mammalian mailbox monster of all.

Collection box or kitty torture house?  He's about to find out.

Collection box or kitty torture house? He's about to find out.

Miscellaneous Marsupials, Endotherms, Etc.

Some of the creatures found in mailboxes could not be neatly pigeonholed into any of the four categories, and for this reason there are certain endothermic (warm-blooded) non-mammals that I will include in a separate paragraph because they are also warm and fuzzy, though a few are more feathered than fuzzy.

Regina in Joliet, Illinois almost stumbled into a possum that was sitting in a perfect state of camouflage beneath a mailbox. Possums don't carry bags like mailmen but being a marsupial they have their own built-in pouch, so this was a case of satchel vs. satchel.

Since birds are warm-blooded too, there is also an occasional warm-blooded feathery infestation. Mail-lady Tina was startled by a bird that flew out of a mailbox, but she could never figure out how it got in there in the first place. Terry in Arizona stepped on a dead pigeon and found a dead bird in a mailbox. Letter Carrier Suzanne of unknown locale was horrified to encounter a dead duck in a mail receptacle. Death seems to surround America's mailboxes; sometimes they are like little metal tombs on a post. Perhaps they will bury me someday in a mailbox-shaped coffin, of course with the flag up so the mail angels will know to collect me when they pass by.

Late mail delivery is enough to piss off any possum.

Late mail delivery is enough to piss off any possum.

Critter Conspiracy?

We are now two segments into this series and it seems like it's only getting worse as it goes along. First we took a look at the creeping and crawling bugs that make America's mailboxes unusable, and while this was plenty bad enough we now see that the furry critters we share our mammalian classification with believe that mailboxes were constructed specifically for their use. When our mail receptacles are completely inundated and taken over by invasive pests of the bug or mammal variety, where in the heck is the letter carrier going to stick the mail?

All I can say is that researching and writing about this subject has made me very cautious of where my fingers are going as I'm making my rounds, and I now shudder when I think of what icky surprises the next delivery may hold. So stay alert my brothers and sisters in blue and all of you in the general public who go now with trembling, hesitant steps to fetch your mail every day, never knowing if some irate occupant of that mailbox is going to dispute your claim of ownership. Perhaps Phil the groundhog himself will take up residence inside one, if only to further mock the mailmen he holds at his mercy!

An unexpected delivery...


Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on September 03, 2014:

Just stay tuned Tony Payne the next installment features snakes. Are you referring to that old Who song Boris the Spider or was that term already in the British vernacular before the Who did it? Thanks for dropping by!

Tony Payne from Southampton, UK on September 03, 2014:

Actually the thing that would frighten me most in a mailbox would be a giant Boris (spider)! In my wife's case it would be a snake.

Just one reason I am pleased that in the UK our mailboxes are usually in the front door of the house and not in the yard.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on August 06, 2014:

Thank you for your nice words and the visit. Mailman is really not such a great job anymore, so use your talents in other places. Excellent comment.

Imtiaz Ahmed from Dhaka, Bangladesh on August 06, 2014:

It would be a very thing for me if i was a mailman. I really liked your hub Melcarriere. It was really great to know what do they go through... :P Voted up

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on July 28, 2014:

I understand that you have some really poisonous snakes down there, and I can only imagine what kind of spiders are creeping around. Thanks for dropping in!

Kim Dessaix on July 28, 2014:

Well I found a large green frog in my mailbox once but what would scare me most would be a big hairy spider or a snake. I live in Australia and we have all the creatures featured in your poll but I'd be most scared of the poisonous variety.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on July 16, 2014:

Indeed, bees find mailboxes to be ready made hives. They can't tell them from a hole in a tree. Thank you so much for dropping in!

ologsinquito from USA on July 16, 2014:

So far, I've only had bees in my mailbox, which was a real pain in every sense of the word. I love that squirrel picture.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 26, 2014:

Well Deb, I appreciate your nice words but it isn't as much of a war zone as the picture I painted here. These incidents were polled from thousands of letter carriers and of the hundred or so that responded it probably represents their worst experience. All the same I don't mind being a hero if you insist. Thanks for dropping in!

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on June 26, 2014:

I have never found anything odd in my mailbox, but I have also given creatures their own homes for the winter, so that probably helps. I had a young opossum in a trash can once. I picked him up, gave him something to eat, and let him go at the park the next day. It does scare me what weird things that people dream up. I applaud you for your valiant services.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 20, 2014:

There are a lot of those kind of people @sheilamyers, unfortunately. At first I thought only a letter carrier could open up a collection box to get a cat in and I thought it might me mailmen playing pranks on one another. But then I checked one out the other day when doing collections and yes, I think a cat would fit down the chute with a little effort and some very thick gloves. Thanks for dropping in!

sheilamyers on June 20, 2014:

Possums would definitely be the worst thing to find inside or outside a mailbox. They'll play dead only so long and if they feel trapped they'll tear you to pieces if they get a hold of you. I can understand a bird, squirrel, or mice getting into the box if it's left open, but a cat? Okay, maybe if it was after the other critters and someone closed it without looking. My theory is someone stuck the cats in there, not as a joke on the mailman, but to be mean and nasty to the cat.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 19, 2014:

Thank you @AliciaC. Yes sometimes mailboxes are the scenes of tragedy as well, which just goes to prove which species is the most barbaric. Thanks for dropping in!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 19, 2014:

This is very interesting and very funny, too (apart from the dead cats)! Thanks for the entertainment, Mel. I'm looking forward to part three in the series.

torrilynn on June 19, 2014:

you are more than welcome !

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 19, 2014:

@heidithorne I don't think animal handling training for letter carriers is a bad idea at all, especially since were sort of an unofficial animal control for the neighborhood already. Thanks for dropping in!

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 19, 2014:

Thank you @DDE for reading and commenting. Most people keep their mailboxes nice and neat but every now and then there is a surprise.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 19, 2014:

Thank you @breakfastpop obviously not every mailbox is a chamber of horrors on a post but every once in a blue moon one does contain a nasty surprise. Thanks for dropping in!

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on June 19, 2014:

Oh my! Our faithful postal workers don't just need union protection, they need wildlife handling training. Luckily, I've never encountered any of these furry friends in my mailbox. Hope it stays that way. Kudos on another great hub!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on June 19, 2014:

Looking into a mailbox with fear before opening it sounds scary and that I would not want to do. Interesting experiences.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 19, 2014:

Thank you billybuc I look forward to reading your book soon. You're right it's not so cool.

breakfastpop on June 19, 2014:

I will never look at a mailbox in the same way again, ever!!! Voted up, useful, interesting and awesome in a scary way.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 19, 2014:

When I was in high school I thought it would be cool to be a have convinced me otherwise. :)

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 18, 2014:

Yes we did that experiment in biology class too. No doubt we share this planet with all sorts of creatures seen and unseen, even though we think everything should be clean and sterile and reserved for us alone. Thanks for the interesting comment and for reading!

torrilynn on June 18, 2014:

This is an interesting hub. in class today We worked with molds and fungi and were told to do one at home by setting our agar plate somewhere or pressing a limb onto agar plate and so forth it was quite interesting how unclean your house or you are. Voted up. I can't wait to read more.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 18, 2014:

Thank you Jaye I am blushing from your flattering words right now. I am glad you enjoyed it and there is more to come!

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on June 18, 2014:

Mail carriers are very brave, and not just because they trudge through all kinds of weather to deliver the mail. Not knowing what type of 'critter' may be inhabiting a mailbox yet opening it anyway is an example of sheer courage (especially from those carriers who have already had unusual close encounters).

Voted Up, Funny and Interesting/Shared


Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 18, 2014:

Thank you Old Poilman sir.

Old Poolman on June 18, 2014:

I will keep following this series, I find it fascinating to hear it from someone who lived it.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 18, 2014:

Thank you Old Poolman. You would be surprised, and you will be surprised if you keep following this series. The next article is going to deal specifically with reptiles and other cold-blooded creepies found in mailboxes. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Old Poolman on June 18, 2014:

I live in a rural setting with the row of mail boxes up at the highway. There is someone out here who loves to catch a non-poisonus snake and leave it in someone's mailbox. I always stand back when I open my mailbox just in case.

I'll bet you have just about seen at least one of everything one could imagine in a mailbox. Great hub, thanks for sharing.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 18, 2014:

Wow, that was quick! I just hit the publish button about five minutes ago. Yes I have had more than my share of encounters with spiders and they are definitely a bump in the road to the pursuit of successful mail delivery. Thanks for reading!

The Examiner-1 on June 18, 2014:

Nothing but those bothersome spiders. Different sizes, and sometimes I believe they are poisonous and of course their webs. I get sticks and clear them all away but they keep coming back!

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