“Oh rats!” This has become more than an expletive to me.I don’t, fortunately, seem to have any of the critters in my house, but according to our neighbors, our mutual backyards are a hawk’s heaven, if only they could get to it. The rat population wasn’t such an issue when I had two dogs in the backyard all day. I think the minute we became dog less, the word went out that a new 24-hour vermin buffet had opened.
Oddly, I never see them. I only see the peanut and macadamia shells they leave behind. Yes, the macadamias are our fault, as we have mac trees, but I have no clue who is leaving peanuts out or for whom. I hate to tell them that the birds or squirrels aren’t getting any of these exotic offerings.
Meanwhile, I went straight to the big guns and called the Vector Control folks who gave me large bait stations. I dutifully placed them and eventually they became empty, so some rat somewhere is no longer with us. The problem, the expert explained, is that there is so much readily available food growing in Southern California, that the poison is only a snack on the way from one tasty plant to the next. In my next life, I may come back as a Southern California rat.
Meanwhile, I felt much better, and my stomach hurt from laughing, after hearing a rat story from a friend with a classic Texan mother.
Mom called to tell daughter about how she was baking a cobbler, opened the drawer to grab a hot pad, and what was in the drawer staring at her “with those beady little eyes!”? A big ol’ rat.
Being a tough Texas woman, her first instinct was to grab that sucker and probably ring its neck, but it fled into the dishwasher. Mom ran that dishwasher through one cycle, sure it would drown, but upon opening the door, she found that hardy critter still alive. So she ran it through another cycle, only to find the rat still quivering. She got her high-shelf grabber and tried to snag it, but that very clean rat raced away and has not been seen since.
Our Southern California rats may be tough, but at least they don’t have gills or the ability to hold their breath for half an hour. For that, I am thankful.
Jean Gillette is a freelance writer still battling her backyard fauna. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.