Sunday, July 22, 2007

Humboldt Rats

One thing there's a lot of up here, at least in Eureka, is rats. You'd think with all the wild creatures up here, including domestic dogs and cats, rats wouldn't get along so well. That doesn't seem to be the case, unfortunately. Rats give me the willies.

Yesterday, I discovered yet another one, this time in my garage. Thought I'd heard something chewing on something while I was in the garage a few weeks ago but it seemed to move on as I just heard it that once. I figured the cats probably got it.

Then, yesterday morning I went out to the garage and was standing by the workbench. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a blur as something ran from the washroom into the garage and heard whatever it was bump into something.

If I didn't hear it bump into something I might of assumed I was just seeing things as it was so fast I didn't really get a good look at it. Best I could tell from what I could see was it was a large brown rat.

I thought it must have ran back under the house by going under the stairs by kitchen and made a note to put some rat poison back under the house again. That's something I tell myself do to every three months or so but I end up blowing it off and just do it when I think we have rats again.

Just in case it came back out again, I put one bait tray in the entrance way to the washroom where I'd seen it earlier and figured I'd put some bait in my favorite baiting spot- below the floor under the kitchen sink- when I got home from work.

Turned out the rat wasn't under the house. It was still in the garage.

I got home from work and was unloading my stuff when I knocked over something near some shelves near the front of the garage. All of the sudden a gray rat comes running out, heads a few feet down the driveway and turns around and runs back towards me. I took off running into the garage. The rat went right back to where he was, hiding under some stuff I had leaning against the shelves.

So, I went ahead and put the other bait tray alongside the wall where I figured the rat was probably hiding.

That was the first time I recall actually having a rat in the garage. Wonder how he got in there? I suppose he could have just walked in one of the doors as rats do move around in the daytime. And there probably is some way to get in there from under the house, despite my attempts to seal off any openings.

Never needed to deal with placing bait out there after all was said and done. About an hour or two after I'd come home I was standing in the garage with the music on and the rat comes out of hiding and scurries out of the garage and around the corner of the house. I guess he doesn't like music?

Good. Now maybe the cats will take care of him.
Oddly enough, I don't believe I had much of a rat problem anywhere in Eureka except this house and the best place I ever lived: Trinity Street in Myrtletown. I don't recall ever seeing or hearing a rat before then, even in the dump I lived at on West Del Norte and Union Streets. There must have been rats there. Maybe I just didn't notice them?

I didn't notice them at my place in Myrtletown, either, at least at first. Then, one day, I found a couple of big brown wood rats had taken residence up in the old concrete incinerator in my small yard.

It was a small square concrete thing that was falling apart. I'd burn trash in it on occasion but eventually started throwing stuff in it, including food, and just letting it sit. Finally, I decided I should stop that practice and give up the burning altogether. I went out with a shovel to dig all the stuff out of the incinerator and, as soon as I touched the pile of trash, a couple big rats jumped out and ran off.

Happened so fast I didn't have time to react. Then I had to wonder: What do I do now? I cancelled my trash digging operation until the rat problem was resolved.

Last time I remember dealing with a lot of rats was in Mexico and the parents dealt with them. They placed big steel traps out where the rats hung out, for whatever good they did. Rats thrived out in the back of our house back then.

But traps it would be. I believe I went down to Mark n Save and bought a couple of the wooden rat traps. Went home, baited one with cheese and put it right next to the incinerator. Came back in about ten minutes and one rat was dead in the trap. Baited and set the trap again and came back in about fifteen minutes and I'd caught the other one.

Problem solved, or so I thought.

A friend at work, John Kraus, told me, If you see one rat, there's likely more... I thought about that but for some reason didn't keep the traps out. Yes, there still were rats there although, in fairness to the rats, they seemed content to be outside rats. Never had any in the house.

I used to feed birds back then by putting birdseed on top of the wooden fence in the yard. One night I was out under the car port and out comes a big brown rat along the top of the fence and starts eating the bird seed. As I got up to go in the house he scurried back from wherever he came.

I went and got my pump action Daisy bb gun and went back to where I was earlier. Didn't take too long for the rat to show up again. An easy shot as he wasn't more than maybe twelve feet away. I'd pumped up the bb gun as much as I dared earlier and, once I got him in my sights, let loose a bb at him.

I hit him, but couldn't tell where. He squealed and took off a runnin'. I don't believe I ever saw him again, but it might have been because I didn't look often enough.

Later I got in the bad habit of dumping organic food out on the lawn- in this case 9 Grain Cereal. I was thinking the birds might like it but one day, while laying on the sun deck, I looked down and there was a black and white rat partaking in my treat for the birds.

He took off as soon as I got up to go inside. I went in and came out with my .22 pistol. I figured it was a straight shot down so it wouldn't be a danger to anyone else. Never got to find out as the rat never came back.

That one looked like the kind of rat you could buy in a pet store. Wonder if it was somebody's pet at one time?
After we left Trinity Street we never had rat problems that we noticed while living in Cutten. We were living at our current house for years before we realized we had rats. I understand the houses across the street have rat problems, the old group home I'm told having a real infestation at one time.

Why it took so long to notice here, I'm not sure. Probably because we didn't have cats for some time and, once we did, we'd find all kinds of dead mice and rats in the yard. Don't you just love it when the cats bring a dead rat with its head all chewed up and drop it off on the stairs to your back door?

It might also be because it takes a while to get the eye and ear for signs of rats- things you just don't notice normally but you become adept at picking up with experience. Biggest giveaway, I've found, is hearing a bump or hearing something fall over where there shouldn't be any critters at the time.

Of course, finding food containers with holes in them and the food being eaten is a giveaway, as well, but we've only had rats in the actual house once and that's how we noticed it.

When we had our bathroom remodeled the new bathtub was one of those jacuzzi type things and an access hatch to the water pump was made behind a kitchen cabinet. We didn't think about it at the time but the water pump was basically underneath the house with full access to any critter that wanted to get to it. We've had critters take up residence under there many times since then.

We foolishly left the hatch door off, not realizing at the time how many critters liked the underpart of our house. The wife opened the cabinet one day and bags of food had holes eaten in them and the contents were strewn about.

Closed the hatch, end of problem, at least for inside the house.

Except, of course, one stormy night when one of our kittens, the late Mr. Tom, came to the back door with a live rat in his mouth. Too cold and rainy to play with it outside so he thought he'd bring it inside with him.

I saw him at the door but didn't see the rat. I let him in, he comes in and lets the rat go and off it goes to underneath the computer table. To make matters worse, he seems to lose interest in it and we can't get the other cats to get much interest in it either. I don't remember how we got rid of that one. I think I used something to pick it up and throw it back outside.

Thanks, Mr. Tom.

Biggest one we've seen here was one that one of our kittens must have killed. It was laying dead out in one of the paths of my vegetable garden. It was a big fuzzy, black Norway Rat, I believe. I'd say it was eight to nine, maybe ten, inches long, from nose to butt. Hope we don't get any more of those.

Anybody have any fun rat stories of their own?


At 11:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just cleaned out the garage, Buried amongst the stuff was a plastic bin with a bag of black oil sunflower seeds I had forgotten about. There were seed hulls everywhere, he had made himself quite a little nest with his ready source of food, well protected from the cats. At first I couldn't figure out where he had gotten all those seeds, figured he must have been bringing them in from the bird feeders. Further cleaning, found him, dead and dessicated, don't know what killed him but he was huge. Must've have quite a life, with no worries about where his next meal was coming from.

At 3:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 4:14 PM, Blogger robash141 said...


I can't stand rats,

They are loathesome little disese carriers. I had a pretty bad rat invasion when I lived out on Mitchell road.

Everything was cool until the people who lived next door moved away and took thier goats and chickens with them.

All the rats who had previously resided in the barn and ate the animal feed descended on my house in search of food and the hostilities commenced from there.

I once chased a rat out of my livingroom with a machete. Those things can move pretty fast. I swung at the rat, missed and sliced the wood on the front bottom drawer of my dresser in half

One trap I found to be effective was to grind up some glass with a dremel or smash it pretty fine. Then mix it with some extra chunky penut butter. Then put it where the rats are hanging out. Then I say to them

Bon aptite' fuckers!

At 5:09 PM, Blogger Rose said...

All a matter of perspective - some people have rats for pets. Then on the flip side people are putting out poison for them.

At 10:15 PM, Blogger robash141 said...

From my perspective these rats weren't pets. they were uninvited intruders who came to eat my food, destroy my property, bring filthy germs into my home and make a racket at night while I'm trying to sleep.

In my book those are All capital offenses for rats.

At 6:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blaming rats for carrying disease? That's funny. You must hate every living thing on the planet.

Rats are cute and make great pets. I'm sorry if nature offends you. No wait, I'm not sorry.

At 7:30 AM, Blogger Carol said...

While remodeling a former house, I put the piano in the gargage studio. The middle keys just would not play. I had my friend, a piano technician, come over to fix it. He open the main part of the piano and there was a rat's nest in there! I had a damper-chase inside the piano to keep the temperature the same. Apparently, the rats liked the consistent temperature and decided it would make a lovely place for a nest.

At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Fred - what about the rats that we elect to run our county. I can think of a couple of beaut's. One or two supported by Carol.

At 9:51 AM, Blogger Derchoadus said...

No rat/mouse problem in my 'hood. The local crazy cat lady feeds her minions one house down the street. They come outta the woodwork at feedin' time. At least she traps and fixes 'em. But the amount of cat crap on the lawns/planter beds/gardens is outta control. They also eat all the birds, except for the damn crows.

At 9:53 AM, Blogger Carol said...

Ouch, 9:38! Looks like you are having a grouchy Monday morning.

At 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred- Cats are the best cure.
Poison only poisons the cats, then the birds, the humans, etc.

If the trap works great, but Cats are the best defense.

Oh, and Robash needs to get some perspective. Rats carry no more diseases than people. (Gone to Winco lately?)
They breed about as well. The real rats are in D.C., and those are the ones we need to eradicate.

At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nonsense. There are plenty of rats running around these blogs. They feed on hate and leave their crap everywhere for others to clean up. Just look at Ryan Fenster/Nick Bravo and Carson Park Ranger/Joel Mielke as examples of particularly bloated rodents.

At 1:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At 9:53 AM, Carol said...
"Ouch, 9:38! Looks like you are having a grouchy Monday morning."

Oh not really...just read the TS editorial about a locally elected rat and how he refuses to do his job. Seems to me that you supported this rat did you not Carol?

At 3:09 PM, Blogger robash141 said...

Cats make great pets ,one of the best things about them is how they throttle rats. It's only natural for them. I used to have a little terrier dog that was very gentle and easygoing except when it came to rats. He'd clobber them. great dog

At 5:32 PM, Blogger ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

Forget rats. We had an invasion of skunks at our place in Weitchpec. A skunk got into our utility room and the dogs chased him into the clothes dryer. We carried the dryer outside at 02:00AM and left it in hopes the skunk would leave. No such luck. Next morning I had to tape up the seams and air inlets to the dryer and attach a hose to the truck exhaust. 20 minutes later I removed the dead skunk. End of problem after sealing up the access holes to the utility room.

At 6:15 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...


You're a better man than I, Gunga Din (Leonidas). I don't know how I would handled that myself.

At 6:18 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Although, as I'd mentioned here before, we did have a skunk infestation a few years ago.

Ended up dealing with the government trapper, Jace Comfort. With him, and me dropping one skunk with my trusty single shot sixteen gage, problem was dealt with.

Took most of one summer, though.

At 6:23 PM, Blogger Nick Bravo said...

Anon 11:13, go find a mountain lion...

At 6:33 PM, Blogger ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

A "government trapper" would suffer a "disappearance" if attempting to operate down river from Bill Pearson's Weitchpec store without a substantial law enforcement "escort":o)

At 6:43 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Maybe not in the center of Eureka, though. He survived our problem.

At 11:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think all ratlovers are traitors to the human race and should be required to disclose their weird ideas to all people they meet. They should wear a distinctive type of clothings and be required to ring a bell every ten paces as
they walk, friendless, along the pathways of life.

At 7:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You m,ust be a liberal.

At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick Bravo said...

Anon 11:13, go find a mountain lion...

6:23 PM

Nick, you are so frigging stupid, your insults don't even make sense. You also reveal your latest stalker identity when you leave "Mr. Mountain Lion" comments everywhere on the same day you make this comment.

At 11:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who IS this nick guy anyway- his comments ARE stupid! Why doesnt he just go away? He has no points except on his head I guess.

At 11:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cats want you to think that they are great rat-catchers.

It is just a ploy.

I've seen cats in action in Eureka. They co-exist with rats. Most of the time, they ignore them.

And who can blame them? Eureka's big rats are bigger than most of Eureka's cats.

Our cats are not stupid. They are certainly at least as intelligent as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. To be fair, I think they are smarter than some of us.

After all, do WE get to stay around the house all day, lying in the sun, eating little kitty treats and being petted? No. But THEY do!

You see my point.

If you want to get rid of rats, get a 16-pack of that famous rat poison from your favorite hardware store. Follow the directions on the box. It works like a charm, inside or outside.

I thank you. Your neighbors thank you.

At 11:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My expert tells me

1) A mammal who accidentally eats rat poison will vomit, thus saving its health.

2) Rats can't throw up and they are greedy eaters. So that pretty much takes care of them.

I say the rats have been "hoisted on their own petard." That is one of my favorite expressions. And soon, I hope, it will be one of yours.


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