Monday, February 27, 2017

Rat Warfare

            Back in November, I mentioned that we had a rat in the house – I never got around to sharing that we managed to get rid of it. At least, we’re pretty sure we did, because the poison my father-in-law put out vanished and we stopped seeing any signs of Templeton.

            Well, then on January 20th Colleen baked a batch of cookies – and low and behold, that night we had a visitor chew its way through the container to get at the cookies. Reasonably confident that it wasn’t Templeton returned to haunt us, we named this one Donald (it seemed appropriate, due to the date of its arrival and the incessant trouble it’s caused).

            Now, in case you weren’t aware, catching rats is nothing like catching mice. You don’t just put down baited traps and they wander in – rats are clever enough to know traps when they see them. At least, this one is. (Also, a disclaimer here – I am opposed to killing the rat; I can’t even kill bugs. However, I also can’t live with a rat and remain sane, and peaceful methods of removing the rat have failed, so I have approved and even masterminded lethal methods for eliminating this problem.)

            We immediately put out the electrocution trap that failed to catch Templeton – baited with a cookie and the entrance concealed with the destroyed cookie container. Poison was also put out in the basement, as it had worked last time.

            We waited about two weeks. Donald wasn’t falling for the trap or the poison, but we were still seeing signs of visits. After a mousetrap was stolen (there were two that had been sprung for a while – it avoided the one that looks like it’s set and dragged the other one behind the stove and ate its peanut butter bait), I devised my first master plan.

            I had noted that every time Colleen baked, a rat seemed to show up. The smell was an irresistible lure. So, we removed the camouflage from the electrocution trap, removed the bait and cleaned our scent from it. We then placed it against a wall (an ideal place for catching rats), baked a fresh batch of cookies and baited the trap with one (sealing the others in the fridge so there were no others available).

            It didn’t work the first night, but the second night Donald couldn’t resist going for the cookie. Unfortunately, something went wrong – the trap didn’t trigger properly (we think the cookie got in the way), but a tuft of fur caught on the entrance (along with the untouched cookie) told us the rat had gotten a nasty shock. I was elated that I’d outsmarted this little monster, but I knew it wouldn’t fall for that trap again. So we decided to seal it out of the house.

            Since the rat was coming into the house through our front closet (and, from there, through a hole into the kitchen), we cleared out the closet (depositing the coats on the couch) and set to work. Using expanding foam laced with window screen, pepper, cayenne pepper, and peppermint essential oils (the internet informs us that rats can’t stand strong tastes and smells), we filled up the holes. Then we placed a few strategic crackers to determine if the rat was still able to get in.

            The next morning, we found that Donald had chewed several of our coats on the couch – on the opposite side of the room from the closet. It’s still unclear if it was searching for food or just getting revenge on us for blocking the hole. Luckily, the damage wasn’t extensive. However, it did mean there was another way in – one we’ve been unable to locate.

            A more traditional snap-trap was set on that side of the house, but, once again, it seemed like the rat was aware of what it was. Our hope began to wane.

            Then, a few days later, the cracker in the closet vanished – telling us that the rat could still get in there, even though it didn’t have a straight line to the kitchen from there. That’s when I came up with my next master plan.

            I knew rats to be cautious – they need to trust something and its location before they eat it. Donald had trusted the cracker in the closet, so we replaced it with another one – this one topped with peanut butter laced with poison. We placed two other crackers at other locations the rat was likely to go.

            Two days later, the cracker in the closet was gone. We rejoiced, because we’d finally tricked Donald into taking the poison! However, we knew the war wasn’t necessarily won yet. The cracker only had 6 pellets of poison, and it takes 6-30 to kill a rat. So, we moved one of the other crackers to the closet. This one took three days to vanish, but each of the next two only lasted a day each.


            The current cracker has been there for two days, and we’re holding our breaths. Has it worked? Are we finally rid of Donald the rat?





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