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July 28, 2021

For some years I’ve had a bird feeder hanging here.

I’ve enjoyed the year-round show of finches and other tiny birds I can’t identify pecking away. Also the robins and woodpeckers and even Steller’s Jays (before I clock their return and fill the peanut feeder for them).

Several weeks ago the suet inside the feeder started to disappear much more quickly than it ever had previously. I couldn’t figure it out. Then one night, when I went outside I spotted a rat, which quickly scrambled away, clinging to the feeder. Rats! I’d only ever seen one around the property before, now I started seeing them regularly. I even asked Joe (who looks at the community bulletin board Facebook page than I do) if he’d seen anything about an explosion in the population. He hadn’t.

Well, I certainly wasn’t planning to become a rat feeder. Decided to bring the bird food in at night. A few days later I spotted a rat at the feeder in broad daylight. Okay, that wasn’t going to work. Where the hell could I put the feeder so the birds could get at it, but rats couldn’t? Had a look around and figured out a perfect spot.

Of course this is only good for the summer when the umbrella is up. What to do in the winter when the birds actually really need the food? Decided I’d figure it out later. (Still working on it.)

Rats! This was the reason I was rather relieved to discover it was a squirrel in my closet rather than a rat. (Although, as a friend has pointed out, squirrels are basically rats with cuter tails.)

Sometime later, when the plumber went into the crawl space to see what was up with my water supply, he told me I had rats under the house. I peeked in, looked at the numerous turds. “Not mice?” I asked hopefully. “No,” he said, “look at the size of them.” It could not be denied that the turds were pretty big for mice.

A couple of weeks after that, when the same plumber was at my neighbour Pat’s place, he informed him that his crawl space was infested with rats. Unlike me, Pat didn’t mess around. He got straight on the phone to an exterminator. I, meanwhile, was still dithering about getting some humane traps to install in the crawl space. Most of my dithering was centred around the question of disposal. Where could I take them to release them? I couldn’t imagine taking the traps into the middle of the forest somewhere. And if I just released them by the side of the road, someone was bound to spot – and no doubt chastise – me. Rats!

And then on Monday I took a load of laundry downstairs and there, on the floor of the guest bathroom where the washer/dryer is, I spotted them: rat turds. Not, when I looked properly, just on the bathroom floor, but also on the carpet in the bedroom. I have no idea how they were getting in, but there were fucking rats inside the house downstairs. Rats!

Came upstairs and called Pat to ask him to send the exterminator over to my place after he finished at his the next day.

Yesterday, a little while after I heard the exterminator’s truck arrive at Pat’s, I went over to talk to him, to confirm that he would be coming to my place. Unfortunately, due to the ridiculously long ferry line-ups these days, he’d missed the ferry he was aiming for and was behind schedule, so no chance he could have a look at my problem. He gave me his card and told me to call the office to arrange for him to come back next week.

I asked for a ball park figure. The cost for a two month treatment is about $400. Rats! 

He also confirmed my suspicion that there’s been an explosion in the rat population. The winters now are seldom cold enough for long enough to kill large numbers off. Apparently his job used to be ants in the spring, rats in the autumn. Now it’s ants in the spring and rats all year round. So, not just heat waves and floods, but also a plague of rats thanks to our addiction to fossil fuels.

Now normally I’m the original wouldn’t-hurt-a-fly woman. When, some years ago, there was a mouse infestation downstairs, I dealt with it using humane traps. Of course the mouse traps were a lot smaller than the sort of rat trap I borrowed for the squirrel (which, by the way, tempted by the peanuts I’d left out, bypassed the trap and simply found his own way out through the open door). Being a lot smaller it was fairly easy to take the mice for a drive and release them discreetly. And mice don’t steal bird food. Easier to be humane.

I do not want to be catching and releasing rats. And I do not want to put poison down and then have to deal with rat corpses. I do not want to touch or be anywhere near rats. (Although clearly a lot of them are now near me.)

Yes, I want them dead. And I want someone else to sort them out.


From → Blog

  1. krysross permalink

    Ugh! Glenn thought he saw one in the boathouse and I haven’t been in since. Once, reaching for a mason jar in a cupboard under the basement stairs at Bathurst Street, I spotted an unmistakable tail curled around the jar. Backed away slowly. Closed the door.
    They always make me think of 1984.

  2. John Galpin permalink

    There seems to have been a large increase in rats all over the place. I had an infestation a month ago which I cured with poison, it cost about £20 for four tubs of pasta bait. It takes about a week, they’ll eat it each night then suddenly after 6 or 7 days they’re gone. You won’t see their corpses don’t worry. Keep the cat in at night just in case though.

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