Year of the Rat

It’s Super Bowl Sunday. I don’t care, for despite going to the games of my boys I don’t follow it. I do have an interest in the commercials that come out, the internet can provide that to me now (see Mahalo) (Thanks Jason Calacanis)

But that’s not really what I want to write about this afternoon. What I want, maybe need, to write about is the rat that I killed this morning.

I’ve of course covered my fights with Order Rodentia, but while in the past I have only had to deal with the genus Mus, today I had to deal with the genus Rattus.

A week ago I was up really early, not feeling too well — I was up at about 5am when I saw a small rodent visitor in the kitchen. I made a halfhearted effort to catch it, but they’re fast and what kind of hope did I have of catching a rodent with a heavy Ajax technical book? None. A the time I saw him or her, he or she darted so fast I was not really sure what it was. I told Leah that I thought it was a mouse, but larger. I hesitantly told her my suspicion that it might be a rat, but how could it be? It didn’t seem of the right size to really be a rat, but then I was a poor judge of the size. Something common to today and that day was that it was raining quite hard each time.

The one bit of knowledge I had was that it was coming out from underneath the dishwasher. So that day I purchased large “tray” type glue traps, as well as some smaller mouse glue traps. Since I knew that it was coming from under the dishwasher I could simply place it under the front of the dishwasher, away from easily getting stepped on by people or by our bird, and maybe make a kill.

I actually have not thought about that one too much, though I occasionally have been hearing a metallic clanking near one of the ducts downstairs sometimes. When I make noise, the noise stops. But this noise is not frequent, so, no harm, no foul. We’ve had no other evidence than that — no droppings, no other evidence of rodents since last July.

One thing I feel bad about is that the area under the birdcage we’ve been laying a garbage bag as a catch for the seeds and shell hulls for the birds food. Cockatiels are messy eaters, and since we have not seen bugs or vermin, and clean up — oh, biweekly — we figured it was not a problem. In retrospect I imagine that the smell of these bird food grains were a powerful attractant. Anyway, so that’s the background for this morning.

Jukebox JT said back in July, in response to my using glue traps to catch some mice — he was dead right about this.:

glue traps = bad. Snap traps end the torture in a second. Glue traps prolong the agony for hours, a mouse fighting for its life until it start hemorrhaging and spitting blood.

What’s next is pretty grisly. I’ll say that the rat is dead, and the area under the birdcage is now clean and will be ever more. You can stop here if you want, otherwise, read on.

This morning I woke pretty early — maybe 7am, but I went back to sleep, dozing on the couch in our living room, when I was awoken by the bird was squawking and fluttering his wings in his cage, obviously distressed — I had no idea what it might be, but I heard another sound too, I was not sure what it was. I went to the kitchen to see the horrible sight of the trap in front of the dishwasher containing a large darkly colored rodent, struggling against the glue trap and failing, and making a sound that was horrible. It was hissing loud. In a flash I knew several horrible things. One, I knew that it was indeed a rat I had seen, I had confused and deceived myself about the size of what I’d seen last week. Two, I needed to get this poor creature outside and kill it as soon as possible. Three, I needed to assure that the rat would not escape — I have had mice elude traps, and I didn’t know what the capabilities of this guy might be, and I sure as hell did not want this guy running around m house. I ran upstairs to our bedroom, got on clothes and a baseball bat. I was pretty quiet, but Leah asked me where I was going — I replied that I had made a capture. Then shoes, I put the flat and the rat in a bag and went outside. I put the whole works it in our trash can, and then smashed the rat. There was more bleeding, and the rat stopped moving, struggling and making any noise.

I came back inside and cleaned up under the birdcage. I sat on the couch and turned on the tv, choked up but not quite crying. Probably coming down from adrenaline. I went and I was delighted that The Blues Brothers was just starting. HBO, so it was unedited. It was a good “spoonful of sugar” to help the medicine go down. Later I did some internet searching and reading about rats. Apparently they go hand-in-hand with mankind.

I don’t regret that the rat is dead. I don’t regret that I had to kill it. I’m going to look at other kinds of traps again, though I have doubts that a snap trap in that location will be effective, but having a few on hand could not hurt. I will probably deploy some of those inside the duct where I have heard that sound. We live adjacent to a lot of brush, and also are part of a duplex house. Given that I’ve seen him or her during heavy rain maybe means it’s about them finding shelter, and perhaps they’re content to stay away other times. I also read that rats are far more suspicious of people than mice. Whereas I’ve seen mice scuttle about any time, this rat was active when everyone was asleep or being very quiet.

I’ll be calling the property management company tomorrow — I’d like them to take a look at the area under the dishwasher for points of entry and for them to fix it. I can’t have rodents in my house. It’s not a tolerable situation.

2008 is the “Year of the Rat” according to the Chinese Zodiac. It’s supposed to be about material prosperity and cleverness. I am not one for signs and omens, but for some reason, I thought of it while The Blues Brothers were singing Gimme Some Loving.

three comments so far...

Once I was trimming the iceplant in the backyard and I chopped a lizard straight in half down the belly. It took a good 20 minutes for him to stop twitching. That sucked.

Hey Joe,

I see your battle with smaller mammals continues. If it helps or amuses, I had a similarly bracing encounter in ’03, and blogged it. If you like, it’s at the “website” link above (, about halfway down the month-long page (“December 9th 12:49PM – I thought I was clever”).

Keep on livin’, and watch your toes!


Sassy — I hate having to kill anything. Bummer about the accidental death.

Tom — thanks for sharing that. It sounds weird, but I wish these killing traps were better at it too!

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