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The rats are back
cat, stripe
I heard the skittering, but dammit, I wasted precious days trying to convince myself that the noise was due to the return of the squirrels.You see about a year ago, we had squirrels in our ceiling. At that time, I was terrified it was rats, but, sadly, I have a fair bit of experience with rats, and I had never before heard any rats making such a racket. If they were rats, they had a disco ball and a meth lab up there and were partying like it was the end of the Rat Millennium. Rat normally keep a fairly low profile, noise-wise. Squirrels are the noisiest little critters you could imagine. They spend their days and nights beating the crap out of each other and bouncing each other off the walls. Rats don't act like that. They make an effort to creep about with as much stealth as they can manage, whereas squirrels are far more exuberant and emotional. However, rats make their presence known in other ways. Most notably by having babies.

My house is a heritage-style home and is more than a hundred years old. We didn't have real problems with rodents on my floor until we built a deck off my upstairs kitchen with steps leading up from the ground. Since then, both rats and raccoons have had easy access to the roof, since my deck is on a level with the eavestroughs. They chew their way in, and once in, they skitter down through the walls. Well, not the raccoons. They just stroll in through the kitchen door if I leave it open when it gets hot in the summer, and have to be chased out with much shouting and waving of brooms or mops. They are much less insidious than rats!

Now, I have not yet seen a rat for this particular go-round, thank God. I've just found evidence of their presence, like chewed stuff, poo, and of course, the beginnings of 'the smell.' Adult rats are slightly more discreet before they have young 'uns. Once the babies arrive, the destruction they are capable of rachets up a few degrees. They run everywhere and chew everything and they can't really be controlled. For the first few weeks when I was still trying to convince myself we had squirrels again, the rats were staying out of our living quarters. But then I had a few busy days at work when I didn't check the pantry because we were either eating leftovers or I wasn't cooking at all, and the rats got into it. Yuck, yuck, yuck. I had to throw out a lot of stuff. When this is over, I'll have to go in there and disinfect and sterilize everything.

I headed out to buy traps and poison. I'm aware that many people are down on poison. It has advantages and drawbacks. But I am in no way a novice. The first time I experienced a rodent infestation, which was many years ago, I wasted several weeks trying to solve the problem with traps. Of course I only caught the babies because the adults are far too canny to fall for traps. The big ones kept on having more babies. That was a terrible time. The smell got more and more suffocating every day. I had to call a professional exterminator and when they arrived, to my surprise, they used a combination of traps and poison. I followed the guys around and asked a lot of questions, thus learning more than I had ever wanted to know about the social structure of rat and mouse colonies, plus methods of extermination. The poison apparently slows the rats down enough that they get caught by the traps. If you think you have one rat (ha) then go ahead and try to catch her with a trap. But once you have a whole family of them, the clock is ticking. Especially if they're in your house with you. I might be a little more patient if I thought they were outside lurking in the shrubbery and holding nightly meetings about how best to gain a foothold inside the house. Unfortunately, they're already in, and this means war. It's them or us.

At the hardware store, I asked the pair of young women working in the Garden Centre where I could find rat poison. One of them led me straight to the section, but the other one stared at me in horror. I'm assuming she is an animal lover. By the time I returned to her checkout counter with my box of poison, her horror had morphed into outright hostility. She told me coldly that her till was closed and I would have to take my purchase upstairs. I shrugged and did so. She really looked upset. I bet she has never had rodents chewing holes in her living quarters before.  I hope she does someday, and I don't mean that in an unkind way. If you've never had to share your living quarters with disease-causing vermin, which is how I regard rodents, then you are free to regard them in a benevolent light. Yes, rats are intelligent and capable of affection, and lots of people all over the world have them as pets. But it's really different when you have one or two rats as pets and you keep them in a cage and take them out at your convenience to play with them. When you have a rapidly growing colony living in your walls and ceiling, it's absolutely disgusting! But it's a learning experience.

As an additional complication, I have a guest arriving on February 03! I have to solve this problem by then. Wish me luck!

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Oh dear, that doesn't sound good! I love pet rats, but disease carrying rodents that chew on everything and breed faster than you can kill them are indeed disgusting.

Good luck with your war against the rat army! Is Fluffy helping you?

No, Fluffy is not the least bit of help! He's one of those purely decorative cats. Any kind of killing or violence is highly upsetting to him. He can't even kill a fly. I watched him bat one out of the air once, and then, as it lay stunned on the ground, Fluffy looked uncomfortable and hurried away.Needless to say, I quickly stepped forward and dispatched the fly before it could recover. Flies are vermin, too.

We gave Fluff cat toys shaped liked mice or birds but he wouldn't play with them, even though they contained catnip! The first toys he ever showed an interest in were a pair of little rectangular catnip pouches I bought him. Those remain his favorite toys. They don't look like prey.

If Fluff ever had to survive by himself without human support, he would be very hungry, indeed. Fortunately for him, he is extremely beautiful and fastidious. He was homeless for about three weeks before we brought him home, but he kept himself looking good in the hopes that someone would fall in love with him and help him.

Hey Brit, I just wanted to ask if everything's alright over there - haven't heard from you for a while :o
But you're still alive, are you? Or did the rats win the epic battle in your house? :D

Oh, ew. Rats, in my opinion, are like spiders. The only places they belong are outside, far away from me and my house, or in cages, which are far away from my home and person.

Good luck with your pest control problem!

Yes, far away, or in a cage. Not running around chewing holes in the drywall. The light switch in my pantry no longer works, and I wonder if it is because the rats chewed the wires?

Thanks! I just want it to be over.

I wish you luck! There is a huge difference between pet rats and the run-of-the-mill wild type.
A friend has pet rats and that's how I found out that I am highly allergic to them. Ten minutes in a room with them and my voice is gone. I'm glad that I hadn't touched them at the time.

I'm glad you didn't touch them, too! I wonder what would have happened if you had? You might have ended up sick in bed. I hope you never get any wild ones moving in with you. Though with all your cats, that's unlikely. There must be at least one, and hopefully more, among your gang of cats who would be willing to make life uncomfortable for encroaching rats.

~pats back~ I feel you, bro.
My parents called me in the middle of the gymnastics class I was teaching because they got a pet rat (BAD IDEA!), and long story short, it got out of its cage and they now have lots of baby rats running around their house. It took me all day to get them out, but my parents are the classic overly polite parents, and refused to "take life away from a harmless critter" so we had to drop off the rats at an animal shelter instead.

Moral to the story is: don't buy a pet rat.

What an interesting story! I hope you got all the babies and didn't miss a couple of little Adam and Eve rats.

This reminds me of the time my neighbor, another gentle animal lover, allowed a little mouse with a gimpy leg (whom he rather aptly named 'Gimpy') to live in a hole in his kitchen wall. He fed the mouse and even paid his house-sitter to feed Gimpy while he was on vacation. I was stunned because I knew what was going to happen long before my neighbor did. I tried to warn him, but he thought he had the situation under control and that Gimpy, with his withered hind leg was too poor a specimen ever to be attractive to a mate. Well, Gimpy turned out to be a lover not a fighter, and moreover a lover with a sweet housing deal. While my neighbor was on vacation, Gimpy moved a girlfriend in and they started working on a family. Three months later, my neighbor was in despair, as he was totally overrun with mice. He stoically maintained that he didn't believe in poison or traps. Finally, his solution was to leave the cellar door open and turn a blind eye while two neighborhood cats went in there every day and did what cats to do to mice. Well not MY clueless cat, but, you know, other cats. There was a small massacre each day for two weeks, which so demoralized the mouse colony that they packed their bags and departed in search of safer lodgings.

OT: I saw your name in a comment to an entry at yaoi_daily and shamelessly followed you to your journal. I have to admit I lurked a bit around here. You have a very pretty layout that delights my eye and fascinates me (green is a really warm and calming color), it wouldn't just let me leave this easily. After reading a few of your postings, I found myself very much enjoying your writing style. It's very refreshing and vivid. I'd love to read more, I must confess, that's why I'd like to friend you. I hope you don't mind. (I will unfriend you, if you do, though.)

Back on topic: Aw rats! I once had to deal with a murine plague. They nearly destroyed all my sweaters for the purpose of creating fancy nests. It was horrible. I hope you can dispose of the rats.

Why would anyone mind that someone wants to friend them? Friend away! I'm delighted and flattered. Welcome to my humble yet rather sprawling LJ, and feel free to poke around as much as you want. BTW, I friended you back.

I confess that I had to go and look up 'murine' on Wikipedia. You have taught me a new word. I suppose it's a more polite one than vermin, and very apt, what with most of the letters forming the word 'urine'. Because that's what causes The Smell!

I am still hearing scrabblings in the ceiling, but the latest batch of poison I put out has gone untouched. I'm hoping this means they're not feeling well enough to entertain my imminently-arriving houseguest with their ratty antics and their total lack of bladder control.

I'm sorry to hear about your sweaters. So far, knock on wood, no rats have gotten into my clothes, but I did once have mice wriggling into the pockets of clothes that were hanging in the closet. They were after the candies I used to stash in my pockets. They chewed holes in my pockets, too. It got so I was afraid to get dressed. I felt so contaminated.

Thank you and thanks for friending me back. :) Some people are a bit ... sensitive when it comes to the friending business. That's why I always ask before I friend someone, especially someone who I've never talked to before.

You actually had to look it up? Aww, I didn't think it was such an unknown word. You see, I'm not a native speaker and I went to my trusted online dictionary to look it up, too. Who would have thought it suggested a word that is so uncommon? But I'm happy you could learn something new. :D

Do you happen to have a dog? My German Shepherd used to be a rather apt rat catcher.

Edited at 2013-02-01 10:14 pm (UTC)

Nope, no dogs, although it may happen at a later date. Dogs are higher-maintenance than cats. They always want to be involved in what you're doing, whereas cats are content to ignore you while they sleep for hours. Also, I like big dogs and my husband likes small ones, and I'm terrified we'll end up with one of those little noisy ones that yap all the time.

Will you continue the FAKE story (>.<) ????????

Yes, I will. I promise I will work on the next chapter of Justice this long weekend. Thanks for the poke.

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