Saturday, April 14, 2018

Rats!

Smack me if I ever complain about ants again.

Coming up on forty springs we've lived in this house and none of the relevant gods has seen fit to drop rats on us, until now. We had a bit of a mouse thing going on in the early years. Taking care of that looked like it would involve cleaning up after ourselves in the kitchen, which might have interfered with our drinking. Then we became tidy people. We threw out the stove which had gone mouse-condo and got new appliances. Mice showed up just often enough to entertain the cat. She stalked the dishwasher and came up with a genuine rodent about once a year. Cute little guys. They say if you see one mouse, you have five thousand. I couldn't prove it. Seems more like we just get the one.

They say the same thing about rats. I hadn't seen any in the house. However, judging by whatever is thundering across the attic above the kitchen, and given that no one else in town has reported a capybara infestation, I'm entertaining the possibility that we have lots and lots of rats, or possibly small bison. We called pest control.

This is the kind of problem you take care of yourself when you're young, but now we're more inclined to pitch money at it. Especially when our Tyvek suits are at the cleaners.

Nice outfit. They don't use poison, which we all know (right?) can ramificate the hawk population pretty fierce. They try to determine where the rats are coming in and either plug it up or direct us to (direct someone else to) plug it up, and then they come back with traps and remove the rodents. A week later they do it again, until finally they come up empty.

The guy thought our entry-point culprits were a couple spots at the top of the roofline that looked chewed-on. This would allow entry into the second-floor attic, from which point (said he) they work their way down the walls and into the kitchen attic, which is lower. He wanted me to call a roofer.

This seemed implausible to me. So I didn't do anything.

Then I noticed poop in the kitchen. Near the sofa. I swept it up. The next day, more poop. I'm a huge proponent of denial when it comes to problems, but finally I pulled the sofa away from the wall and found many more poops, a scouting party of ants, and a neat cache of Iams Healthy Adult Cat Kibble. I read up.

Good news! Mice and rats are likely to drop a deuce fifty times a day. So the collection I had could have been a single rodent over three days, or a threesome overnight. Not so bad. I swept up, Windexed the crap out of the floor, and bought mouse traps, because I am optimistic.

Two of the traps were sprung and all the peanut butter licked off without sign of violence.

Rat behavior.

Rats don't hunt much if they don't have to. They forage. Kibble is super easy to transport and store. It's better than rooting through the Dumpster. It's convenient.

The sofa didn't smell right. I blamed my nose for a couple days and then turned the sofa over. There was a hole in the dust cover fabric. I cut the fabric off. Ten thousand turds tumbled out. I threw out the fabric, cleaned up the turds, sprayed everything in sight with everything this side of napalm, and considered myself lucky I foiled them before they could bring in the tiny TV for the Spring Break Party. Also, I put away the bowl of cat kibble every night. If Tater gets hungry, she can just go find herself a rat. And I called the roofer.

It isn't much different with climate change. It's the poop that betrays us--all that carbon we've hauled out of the earth and shot into the sky. And if we want to do anything about the poopetrators, first thing we have to take away the kibble. But we loves our kibble. We wantss our kibble. All that plastic packaging, and heat and AC at the flick of a switch, and instant transportation? It's so convenient. Mmm, kibble.

45 comments:

  1. Thank goodness all we get are mice in our attic. I keep Hav-a-hart traps set for them all the time and check them every morning. If I catch something, I drive it to a park a couple miles away and wish it a good life -- just not with me.

    I notice that they are more likely to appear at some times rather than others: when it's bitterly cold... after a big rain storm... or in the spring breeding season. We have lots of fiberglass insulation up there, and apparently they think it makes dandy nesting material.

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    1. Wow! You check them every morning? That's dedication. I salute you. Wouldn't you think fiberglass insulation would make them unacceptably itchy?

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    2. I would think, but apparently it must take their minds off the mites that are feeding on them.

      Once I missed a day and found a dead mouse in one. I felt so bad about it. Now I write it on my to-do list every day so I don't forget.

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    3. Driving a rat or any other rodent a few miles away does not take care of your problem. My brother tried this sometime ago with squirrels. Didn't seem to be having any fewer squirrels. So he transported them twenty miles away and painted their tails for good measure. Two weeks later the painted tailed squirrels were back. The take home message is this: rodents, like most other animals have home ranges. They know where home is, they like where it is and they will come back. I, by the way, am a field biologist and have studied squirrel, mouse and flying squirrel behavior for a number of years. My brother is a veterinarian. Our joint opinion is that if a problem animal isn't an endangered species and it is endangering our health and the health of our families, the best solution to home invasion is to kill them.

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    4. Sheeeet, dude! You're talkin' to someone who catches and releases bugs. My conscience wouldn't let me kill them. I'm hoping that the owls in the woods will do it for me.

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    5. The Rat Guy--I call him the Rat Guy--I think he's used to it--says they use Hav-a-heart traps for squirrels because that's the only way to trap them, and snap traps for rats because that's the only way to trap THEM, so I don't know, really. I am just trying to get the ones already in there OUT because we've plugged up the holes.

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  2. So far today I had to look up two words, ramificate and kakistocracy. How awesome that rat poop ties them together.

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    1. Did ramificate actually turn out to be a word?

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    2. Inconclusive. I found this: "Late 18th century. Either from classical Latin rāmus branch + -i- + -ficate, or from post-classical Latin ramificat-, past participial stem of ramificare ramify."

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  3. I might come back later. After I've dealt with the latest ants. Maybe...

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  4. I have to confess I would have called that roofer, or a member of my family who knows what he is doing and got that problem fixed toot-sweet, then the traps man could do his thing and my home would be rat free. I really hate sharing with uninvited guests.

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    1. I hesitated because I really didn't believe that was how they were getting in, and we'd get nowhere. There will be a follow-up post...

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  5. With ten cats in the house I better not have a rodent problem. Otherwise there will be a lot of homeless kitties wandering the streets. Of course I have seven litter boxes that get cleaned daily. Poop is still poop wherever it comes from.

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    1. Excuse me. You're a crazy cat lady? Yeah, Tater's been fired. I want to know, and tell the truth, now--if you have ten cats, do you have a favorite?

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    2. Several, but one gets special privileges.

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  6. Oh my bad memories here. I used Dcon for the chipmunks and other rodents in our attic. They ended up dead in the walls. My spouse complained bitterly about my "solution" to the "rat problem" causing the living quarters to smell so bad...:(

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    1. We're not using poison because of the hawk ramifications.

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    2. The poison these days is crafted to spare the hawks and owls. Unfortunately, in my experience, the rats are enjoying their new treat. We have an exterminator on a quarterly retainer. This is for rats outside and spiders inside. The spiders have become sparse, but the rats reign supreme.

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    3. I asked our rat guy about the bait stations he wanted to put up and he said the same thing--it's a new generation poison with little secondary poisoning risk. He said it's far better in this regard than the old-fashioned warfarin and strychnine. I said I'd google it and get back to him. Went inside and skipped through the first two pages of claims by the manufacturers and got a non-industry page on it. Which said warfarin was low risk and strychnine was possible risk. And bromadiolone, the ingredient in his "hawk-safe" poison, was moderate risk. So I told him to skip the bait stations. He professed to be very surprised at what I'd read.

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  7. Mice are one thing, rats are a whole nother. Looking forward to the post about getting to the root - er, roof - of the problem.

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  8. This one will go in The Poop Posts, right? I’m anxious to read the follow-up on the sofa. When my thoughts race and I can’t sleep at night, I creep (verb used knowingly) downstairs to the sofa. Don’t know why, but I can always relax and fall asleep there. The Monkey Mind has no power over a sofa. Now, I sense my solution will never work for me again until you get your sofa problem fully resolved.

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    1. Wow! What is it about sofas? When I have trouble falling asleep, I, too, stumble over to the livingroom sofa. For some reason, I fall asleep more readily there.

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    2. Sofas are not supposed to be for sleeping, so your monkey mind doesn't feel performance anxiety.

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  9. Only mice in the house and they are now under control, but we set traps every fall. Ihave teeny tiny ants in the bathroom and for the life of me cannot find their trails. That may require poison.

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    1. I do use ant gel on the ants. I Windex them up and then squirt some goo where they're getting in. Clears it up in a day or two. Until the next batch...

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  10. I was thrown back into several memory boxes. One involved a rodent that played the piano in the middle of the night.

    Another was someone forgetting to check the humane mousetraps so we cruelly faminized the contents.

    The third was my desperate and horrified stamping out of ants in a hallway and getting up in the middle of the night to find an ant funeral in process.


    These pesky critters. Good luck.

    XO
    WWW

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  11. "Rats that survive to the age of four are the wisest and the most cynical beasts on earth. A trap means nothing to them, no matter how skillfully set. They just kick it around until it snaps; then they eat the bait. And they can detect poisoned bait a yard off. I believe some of them can read."–Joseph Mitchell

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  12. Brings back memories of turning over my favorite stuffed chair to determine the source of wiggling while I was relaxing in said chair. I'm not ashamed to say I screamed a little when a large gray rat projected himself out of the lining and across my foot. Never figured out where he went. ..

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    1. He's commenting on his terrifying experience on a rat blog.

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  13. I mostly have mice. Field mice. No house mice.

    I have a cat, a good huntress. She's the problem. She brings in her trophies, still alive and kicking, then releases them for some fun and games around the furniture. They end up under the fridge with her gazing mournfully at the gap.

    I set traps. Once, I actually caught one alive and carried him outside. The cat was not pleased with me. The feeling was mutual.

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    1. Reason # 5,498 to keep yer cat indoors!!!

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    2. Trouble is, we have a mouse problem outside, in my landlord's storage sheds, where he keeps his antique cars. They eat the insulation off the wires and the leather off the seats. My cat is supposed to be keeping them in check. Seems to be working, but I get the runoff.

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    3. You should charge him rent for your cat.

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  14. My cats aren't hunters. I should fire them.

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  15. Sounds like you don't have flying squirrels, Murr!

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    1. They're in the forest, I guess, but I've never seen them. And none right here.

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