Varmint – Vermin – Victor/Victim
When we last left our stalwart hero, the Pied Piper, he was valiantly attempting to rid his home of rats….
Back last June, when I chose these ‘V’ words, I wasn’t sure that I could achieve Victory – or who would be the victor, and who the victim.
I checked the air intake tube for the furnace, and found Ping-Pong-ball-sized stones piled above the steel grate, to prevent just this problem. Next, I checked the dryer vent. This entailed emptying and moving a steel shelving unit in the basement. Back in the corner was the 4-foot aluminum carpenter’s level. I stood it against the wall, just outside the utility room door.
The dryer duct is expandable aluminum, hardly stronger than a potato chip bag, against the power of sharp little rats’ teeth. That corner was covered in dryer lint. I used a shoe-box side and duct tape to close the gaping hole, and folded a small piece of chicken wire double, and screwed it over the outside vent. That should keep any more from coming in. Now I just had to deal with any left inside.
I put a trap outside, below the dryer vent, and 2 days later, caught a female, hopefully, trying and failing to get in. A week after, I drowned one in the peanut butter/swimming pool trap that I built from SightsNBytes direction. Another week, and the Tonka Toy, Hungry, Hungry Hippo trap caught another female. Just how big is this guy’s harem??
I removed the adhesive trap, because footprints proved it wasn’t sticky enough. One of the traps disappeared, even though I tie them down to prevent that. I found a Dollar Store that had the old, reliable wooden trap – for $2. The $12 special, now baited with soft chocolate cookie, nails yet another female.
New plastic and metal containers are bought. The amount of food disappearing goes down – but there’s still that occasional ‘gnaw, gnaw, gnaw’, some nights. Wile E. Rat is still down there. One day, an unmoved box of macaroni is emptied, and there, behind it, is the missing trap. It’s down a shelf, and 6 feet away, on the other arm of an L-shaped shelving unit.
One day I go down to get something from the freezer. Dancer-cat rushes ahead and jumps up on it for his usual ruffling. As I walk over to him, I ALMOST STEP ON THE RAT, padding across in front. Later, Mr. 20/20 Hindsight Son asks, “Why didn’t you just stomp on him?” Uh…. because he startled me, I hadn’t thought of doing that….and because I didn’t have my slippers on.
The next day, we go down again, only this time dancer-cat stands peering over the end of the freezer. Sure enough, there under the bottom shelf is Mr. Rat. My well-shod feet are just waiting – but he won’t come out. Would the cat go in?? I place him on the floor, but his way is blocked. I move a box….and the rat is gone.
Later that evening, I go back downstairs. There’s that carpenter’s level. I might as well put it on the workbench, because I’m going back in that corner to empty the cats’ litter tray….AND I DAMNED-NEAR STEP ON THE RAT AGAIN. Here he is, almost in the middle of the floor. I have the level. Do I want to risk a $50 tool? Hell, yes! But the rat quickly scuttles under the work bench.
While the cats seem to have little or no interest in the rat(s), the dog does. He’s part terrier, and they’re bred to dig out rats. Only, this one just goes downstairs and barks, usually when someone’s trying to sleep. He’s deaf as a post, and has cataracts so bad that he bumps into things. I think he just barks at the odors.
I was working on the computer one day. The wife later said she’d heard the dog in the basement. I went down to the main floor, just as he jumped up on the couch. We put a blanket there, and let him, but he acted guilty. When I looked, he had one of his chewy toys in his mouth, which are not allowed up….but this toy had a tail. Future evidence showed that he caught a rat in the same place he chased one a month before. But is it the rat?
Rats piss and shit wherever they go. I can vacuum up the solid – several times Dust-Bustering the shelves, but the urine reeks. We have a spray bottle of Febreze-like liquid. It’s supposed to absorb odors. I sprayed under my workbench. I sprayed the linty corner – behind the steel shelves – behind the beer fridge and water softener – behind the freezer – under the storage shelves, and on the now-open spaces, avoiding all food….and went upstairs, a couple of weeks later.
The wife had started a load of wash, but with her recent knee operation, it was up to me to move the heavy wet laundry from washer to dryer. I went into the main floor powder/laundry room and flicked on the light. Dancer-cat Micah jumped up on the dryer. That’s not normal, but he’d been a bit more sucky than usual. I flipped up the washer lid, and turned to open the dryer….and the cat is paying no attention to me.
There’s Mr. Rat, sitting on some hand towels, on a 4-foot-high shelf beyond the dryer. He’s always stayed in the basement. Oh yeah, I sprayed the shit outta that. How did he get up here? The dryer duct – gotta check that again. What can I hit him with? What can I hit him with? There’s the wife’s ‘laundry stick’, for dunking or removing clothes from hot water. It used to be the heavy wooden handle of a barbecue brush.
I can’t get at him because he’s tight to the shelf above, and the cat’s in the way. There I stand, with the raised baton in my hand, like an orchestra conductor. He‘s not moving, because the cat will chase him (maybe), but the cat is interested. Bit by bit, the cat oozes forward, until their noses are inches apart – slowly, the cat raises a paw….
Just before contact is made, the rat jumps. We have a sponge/ squeegee with a 3-foot handle for cleaning outside windows, leaning against the wall. He jumps to that. Then he lowers his nose to look for a safe landing spot – and I clop him a good one on the back of the head.
Holy shit – rats are tough! I expected death, or at least unconsciousness. He performed a mid-air 360° tumble, and landed, squealing and thrashing, in a 14-inch-high, narrow, plastic garbage pail. Can he climb out? Can he jump out? I’m not waiting to find out.
Quickly I grab the edge with my left hand and, still holding my Ninja club in my right, I head for the nearby front door. With both hands full, I don’t know how I got it open. I told myself that I shut it behind me, so that cats couldn’t get out – but how?
I was just going to throw him into the middle of the road, but if he got in once, he might get in again. This is a fight to the death! I run down the driveway, and set the pail on its side on the sidewalk. He’s safe in there. He ain’t comin’ out.
I dumped him out onto the concrete, and immediately administered several blows. I may have broken a front leg or two and/or some ribs, but I slowed him down. Then I got 5 or 6 to the head. Do. You. Know. How. Many. Nachos. You. Ate? Broke the wife’s stick, and had to glue and tape it back together later. Went to go back to the house, and here’s two cats leaking out the open door. The next day, I took a photo in the rain, for proof.
And so, peace has descended upon Casa Archon. No more missing/spoiled food. No more furtive movement. No more squealing, rustling or gnawing. I am the Victor! 😎