See that? That, right there, is one huge, thoroughly pissed off rat. In a cage, in my kitchen. And just how did I come to have a huge, pissed off rat pinging back and forth from one wall of the cage to another, shrieking at the top of its lungs, in my kitchen?
When you live on the edge of the woods like I do, it's not unusual for some of the wildlife with which you share your living quarters to want in on the nice warm, dry, well-fed action that you enjoy, especially in winter time, and especially in a winter that's been more wet and cold than is typical for this area. I'd say once or twice a year we get mice here in the house. A quick trap baited with peanut butter takes care of the problem fast, and I make BigDaddyFish dispose of our four-footed forest dwellers right away. We had a rat once about eight years ago, and my dad told me the secret of the snap trap baited with raw bacon. Within 45 minutes of us setting a trap we had disposed of that problem, because few creatures can resist the allure of bacon.
Back in January we noticed a hole had been chewed into the molding surrounding our slider to our deck. We figured we had mice and set traps and blocked the hole, but none of the traps worked and we didn't see typical signs of mouse occupation like mouse poop. We let it go a couple of weeks, and we started to hear the animal in the wall in our kitchen at night (the slider to our deck is at the back of our kitchen). We figured okay, it's a rat, and set our foolproof bacon trap. Nothing. That went on for a couple of days, then we discovered that the critter had chewed into our bag of birdseed. So we got a couple of glue traps, which I HATE, I think they are inhumane but I wanted the damned rat gone, set them out, and damned if the sucker didn't somehow get itself off the glue trap! It chewed a piece off and I hoped it glued its damn mouth shut. No such luck. Then we noticed that the rat had removed the obstruction to the hole and had MOVED SOME OF THE INSULATION from the inside of the wall to block the wind and cold. So then we realized we had one big, strong, and apparently smart rat. We needed a big, strong, smart way to catch it.
We didn't want to poison it, because we figured it would eat the poison then go die inside the wall behind our kitchen cabinets where we'd have to tear the house apart to get rid of its stinky corpse. We were reluctant to call an exterminator because we didn't want to argue with someone else about why we didn't want to poison it and pay them an arm and a leg for the privilege. So we thought and thought and my friend Minnow finally offered the solution. She has a cage trap that she bought for use with her cats (to which I am highly allergic, therefore we can't use THAT deterrent to rodents) but had never used. We took the trap, baited it with some of the sunflower seed the rat had seemed to like before, and...
Nothing. I feared it was outsmarting us again.
I had forgotten and left my purse on the floor one night, and the damn thing chewed the edge off it, then chewed through the wire for my iPod earbuds. I pulled the ear buds out and left them on the table, and the f-ing rat took the earbuds when we left the house the next time. I started to get more frantically squicked out than I already was and figured a change in bait was in order. We started storing things up off the floor, sealed in tins and boxes and containers the rat couldn't get in, and tried to figure out what a rat would like to eat that would make it go into this trap. We tried bacon - nothing. We tried m&ms. We tried peanut butter. The kids got into the action and threw an oreo cookie in there. Nothing.
So we continued disinfecting everything and forgot about it a bit. I stopped checking the trap every day only to be disappointed that it was empty. We didn't hear from the rat for a while so we hoped it had gone out to play in the snow and died. The kids would mess with the trap from time to time and throw things in there, and I'd reset it, to no avail.
Tuesday evening last week I was laying on the couch with BDF, dozing to the Olympics, and we heard a strange noise in the kitchen that sounded like a dish falling down. I picked my head up, said "What was that?" and listened. We heard nothing else. So we forgot about it and went to bed.
Wednesday morning the kids and I went into the kitchen to make lunches only to have one thoroughly pissed off rat throw itself against the wall of the cage squealing its fricking head off and scaring the piss out of us. Victory! The bait that did the trick? Apparently a combination of petrified oreo and petrified chicken nuggets from Wendy's, which the kids threw in there.
We eventually had to do this to keep the thing from shouting at us:
Then we had the dilemma of how to get the thing out of the trap without getting attacked by the frantic, pissed off rat. I wanted to just throw it in the mostly-frozen lake because I figured it was so cold it would die quickly and not suffer too much, but BDF, who is quite the softy, wouldn't do it (what, you didn't think I was going to do it, did you?). Then there was the added problem of how to open the trap without getting bit. We debated calling an exterminator when BDF told me to google critter guys. I think the guy we picked was a little surprised to get a call about a single rat already trapped in a cage, but he was nice and professional and not only took the rat away to do whatever it is he normally does with unwanted rats, but he does all the rehab work on the house, too, so he will be back when the ice and snow melt enough to fix the hole in the molding and get up on our roof where we suspect we have another hole. He told us the rat is a male, did a basic inspection and agreed with us that we had just the one rat. He good-naturedly put up with Nemo and me following him around the house and gave me some good information on how to prevent the wildlife from showing up in the first place. He handles all kinds of wildlife removal, including squirrels, bats, opossums, raccoons, and snakes. I asked him if he handles bears and he looked at me funny. But he did a good job for a reasonable price and if our history is any indication we'll be calling him back sometime to remove some other kind of critter. He put a temporary block on the hole in the molding so we won't get any more varmints in there before he can come back and fix the damage. We could not have asked for a better or more professional job, and we found him randomly by googling. Sometimes you just get lucky that way.
After he left I bleached the ever living hell out of my kitchen and went to Home Depot to buy more rock salt, the faster to melt the ice and get him to come back and fix everything.
Fish 1, Rodent 0