We live in a beautiful area with mature apricot, nectarine and avocado trees, ample grape vines and the perfect moderate climate. It is not just paradise for us but for all forms of wild life as well. By day hawks soaring about in and out of the huge pine trees and at night you can hear the owls and coyotes out hunting. All of those luscious fruit trees and grape vines made our property it a prime target for all sorts of wildlife. Over the past year, probably due to global warming, we have noticed a steady decline in birds of prey and thus a huge increase in rodents, specifically rats. Most people are so grossed out by rats that they would not hesitate to kill them without a second thought but this was my first experience with wild rats. The first year they ate all of their fruit, the majority of people would have poisoned them. I had pet rats as a kid and always found them to be extremely smart, clean little animals. Killing any living creature is not something that I did under any circumstance. I trap and relocate unwanted spiders and set up daddy-long-legs under cabinets and in corners where ants enter the house so that I don’t have to kill the ants. I know, about now you’re probably shaking your head mumbling about what a nut case I am. That is until one of those creatures made its way into my house late last year.
One morning I woke up and noticed that all the leaves were gone off my herbs, they were all just sticks, as if winter had hit the kitchen and all the leaves had fallen from the little trees. Strange things started to happen, like sponges disappearing, or Christmas decorations moving. One early evening I was standing at the kitchen sink when what I thought was a tennis ball rolled over my feet, I looked over my shoulder expecting to see my dog wagging her tail waiting for me to toss the ball back to see the fattest grey rat I’ve ever seen scurrying over the hardwood and as if it was a shape shifter it flattened out to slide into the two-inch space between the sofa and the floor. Well, now I knew what happened to the herbs. No big deal, it didn’t flip me out. There was no screaming, dancing or climbing up onto the counter tops. At first I tried to lure it outside with treats but it wasn’t interested in leaving. Why would it? It had the perfect heated crash pad complete with unlimited food, toys and plenty of room to roam. One night I opened a drawer and was eyeball to eyeball with a little furry gray face with long white whiskers, dark little round eyes and at the center, twitching, a tiny little pink nose. She jumped and I jumped and then the dancing and screaming began. We do not have any cats right now but I thought at this point I would let the dog catch the adorable little monster that had just scared the crap out of me. I removed all the drawers and opened the cabinets to give her access to find the rat and went to bed. Well it turns out dogs are not cut out for catching rats.
When I found a nest in a brand new Shoei Neotec Modular Helmet that was it. I had spent months researching the best helmet and at the end of riding season finally bought a top of the line Shoei and while I got a good deal it was still a chunk of money. Kindhearted animal lover, defender of wildlife and avid rescuer had had enough! This was war and she was going to die!
I tried setting up the old wire & wood snap traps but the rat outsmarted them every time taking the bait and leaving the trap both tripped and bait less, or after a while, it could remove the bait without tripping the trap. This went on for months and this once adorable little monster was now nasty and destructive chewing through electric cords and wires, disabling dishwashers and refrigerators with its massive razor sharp teeth. Finally a friend that lived nearby said he had used Trapper T-Rex traps and while they were gnarly, he was very successful trapping rodents using Oreos as bait and never once had a rat been able to take the bait without getting caught. He set the traps and told me he would come back and take care of everything once the rat was trapped. Shortly after dark the same night he set the trap I heard thrashing around that did not stop. You would think I would feel relieved that it was finally caught but no, the thought of that fuzzy little gray face and bright pink nose suffering was too much. I called my friend and told him that I the rat was caught and had decided to let the dog put the rat out of its misery. As soon as we walked into the room I gave the command to, “go see” and that is exactly what she did. Within seconds the dog had found the rat and as I screamed and danced around like a woman filled with the holy spirit in a Pentecostal church I was distraught and completely out of control, screaming, “she’s got it, she’s got it, oh god I can’t watch” at my friend into the phone. He was cheering back as if the dog could hear him, “good boy, good boy, get him!” What a scene that must have been…if walls could talk.