Bait, set and trap

OK, I know we are all God’s creatures and that “everybody’s got to eat something,” but it just isn’t a level playing field. It turns out that rats can pop out a litter in about 24 days.

Moreover, I can’t find any good reason for them in the big scheme of things.

Our rats are the lucky ones that proliferate in Southern California where something edible is bursting forth all year round. We may host both types (Norway rat and roof rat) at the Gillette 24-hour rat buffet — aka our backyard — where we serve macadamia nuts, avocados, grapes, plums, apples and more.

I had previously only heard thumpings and bumpings across the roof from the back bedroom, and that could have been raccoons or cats. Well, it could have.

But I recently began sleeping in the bedroom underneath the attic and could no longer deny the very clear scampering of little rat feet above my head.

While they stay outside, they remain my gardener husband’s problem. But these critters broke my cardinal rule of wildlife survival.

Stay outside and I’ll share. Step across my threshold and you have a target on your back.

So my husband brought me some fresh, new traps and I learned how to repeatedly get my fingers slammed in them. I finally mastered the art of baiting and setting and it wasn’t long before I got results. It made me feel like a medieval hangman. As I lay abed one night, I heard the distinct wham of a trap going off and then got to listen to the 30 seconds of struggle and death throes. Gag. As much as I hate rattraps, I hate them more when there is a dead rat in them.

I reset two more traps today, although I have had no further clumsy R. rattus victims. I swear they can nibble the bait without setting them off, but based on the number of times I have bruised my fingers trying to set the traps, I marvel at how they manage it.

My only joy is the absence of skittering feet sounds in the attic. But I am not confident that they are gone. I think they may have made silent, fluffy boots from the insulation.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer with back-up traps, lots of peanut butter and a grudge in her heart. Contact her at


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