Saturday, May 19, 2012

Oh Rats!

I grew up in the country. Our 6 acres was cut out of the middle of a million wooded acres, so it’s no surprise that we were always dealing with some sort of wild animal or pest. There were raccoons & opossums, snakes & scorpions, an occasional wild cat or dog or wolf. It was mostly a very peaceful life, though. Maybe because my parents dealt with all the wild creatures that roamed onto our land & I was able to remain blissfully ignorant to some degree?

I’m sure that once in a while my parents must have encountered a mouse or a rat, but I really don’t remember seeing them. I definitely remember scorpions and snakes and all the animals that my dad shot & carried off the carcass. But, no mice or rats. I recall that mom once told me about going out on the back porch to put some scraps from dinner in the dog’s bowl and she found a mouse eating the dog food. She said she whacked him on the head with the spoon she was holding at the time & then picked it up by the tail & tossed the dead mouse into the woods at the back of our yard. I must’ve not thought much of it, or wasn’t too creeped out by it, but that may be because I didn’t have to see it or deal with it myself. Of all the things I did see, I simply don’t remember mice or rats ever being an issue at our house.

So when I encountered my first mouse in the house early on in my grown up life of marriage & parenthood, I was completely terrified. We began to see ’evidence’ of a mouse in our bathroom closet. My husband showed me how to set a mouse trap without snapping my fingers & we waited. One day while my husband was working a 24 hour shift, I heard it pop. Knowing that I couldn’t leave it until the next day (I imagine it would be really gross & stinky by then), I realized I’d have to deal with the trap and the dead mouse. I didn’t want to be anywhere near it, dead or alive, and the idea of touching a dead mouse grossed me out to no end! So I gathered my supplies --- 2 Walmart sacks, one inside the other, a long handled spatula and a pair of oven mitts. You better believe that when I scooped up the trap & threw it into the sacks, spatula & all, I ran as fast as my chubby legs could carry me to the trash can outside, tying the top of the bag along the way. Fortunately that’s the only mouse we ever dealt with at that house.

A few years later, we lived in a tiny little rent house. That is, a tiny rent house that was overrun with mice & rats! Gag!! The rats only showed up in the garage, thank goodness, but the garage was home to our washer & dryer so I had to go out there ALL THE TIME. I had never seen a rat in person (outside of a cage!) until I saw the ones living there. I swear they were the size of small cats. I remember spotting one for the first time in between the washer & dryer, munching away on a chunk of lint. I went screaming back into the house & didn’t do laundry for days!!! When I finally did, I made my husband come into the garage with me because I was too terrified to be out there alone with them. When we started seeing mice in the house, I pulled out the old reliable traps & set them like a pro, even learning a trick about sewing a piece of raisin to the trap so the sneaky mice couldn't grab the bait & run off with it! (Trust me, it works like a charm!!) But when we caught one, I’d put a big mixing bowl over it so I wouldn’t have to look at it and waited for my husband to get home from work. He’s just laugh when he saw the bowls set out that way, knowing exactly what it meant. He loved to taunt me with the dead little bodies. While I much prefer a dead mouse or rat to a live one, I really don’t want to see either!

And so, it’s no surprise that when Samuel came into the house last week and told me that there were some rats in the backyard, I flipped out. He had seen them run out from under our dog’s house when he went out to play in the yard. Just the idea of these little creatures living anywhere near us creeped me out. Upon investigating, we realized that these rats were living in the neighbor’s backyard & coming over for a little snack bar event at the dog’s food bowl. Apparently there is a healthy sized population of them in the neighbor's yard (a rent house that is a little overgrown & not always the most well-kept). When I stood in my bathroom that afternoon, watching one after another of these gross little animals walking up to the dog's bowl, climbing up to take a piece of food & then wander back to their home yard, I knew we had to take action of some kind. But what could I do from inside the house---you know, FAR away from those gross things?!

I did what every internet-savvy girl would do. I posted on Facebook! Ha ha! And true to form, my FB friends gave me all sorts of suggestions. The smartest one was to move the dog’s food indoors for the time being and then deal with the rats. The idea was that if we took away their food source, they would go away. It made sense, so we’ve given it a shot. (Well, that & we set out poison in places where Daisy can’t get to it. The neighbor put poison in his yard as well.) We know that setting out poison for the rats, even if our dog can’t get to it, is a risk. If one of the rats dies in our yard & Daisy tries to eat it (ewwwwwww), she could potentially get sick or die from the poison as well. I hate to even have to take that risk, but the truth is, there’s no way to run off, catch, or scare away that many rats without just killing them. And poison is the only way to do that. So we’re just crossing our fingers and praying that Daisy’s tummy is plenty full & she has no need to go snacking on a dead rat!

Fortunately, we’re on day 4 now of having Daisy as a breakfast guest indoors and we’re not seeing the rats anymore. In fact, by day 2 we quit seeing the gross little neighborhood guests in the backyard. I find it hard to believe that all of the rats had already eaten the poison & died that quickly, but I suppose it's possible that they're truly gone by now. I would like to return Daisy’s food to the great outdoors as some point, but until we’re positive about the rats, I’m holding off. We’ve been searching every day to see if we can locate any dead little bodies in the yard, but so far have not found any. I’m just hoping they’re all over in the neighbor’s yard or their shed. (Sorry neighbors!)

Do you have any pests that particularly gross you out?

Note: Please do not email me with 10 reasons why I should get humane traps or how poisoning them was cruel or mean. To be completely honest, I really don't care about being humane to rodents. I just wanted them dead &!!

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