Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Oh Rats!

Life with Josy Fuzzbutt is an adventure.

No, there haven't been any more birds since we took the bird feeders down, and no more bloody baby bunnies.  In fact, things were pretty quiet around here as far as the killing goes.  

Then one evening last week as Tom and I were watching TV Josy brought us a gift.

 It was a small rat.  She was quite pleased with herself.  She purred and purred.  We disposed of the rat, and shortly after closed the pocket doors that keep her confined to the family room/kitchen/laundry room and went to bed.

I was being hit by one of the sieges of insomnia that seem to creep up now and then and couldn't sleep, so about 1:00 AM I got up and went downstairs to read in my recliner.  I found another small rat, this time headless.  I disposed of it and settled in my recliner to read my murder mystery.

Just before 2:00 AM Josy came in through her laundry room window cat door, chirping.  She had another small rat.  She put it down near me, and it was blinking at me.  It wasn't dead!

Good grief.  Now what?  It seemed stunned so I got a paper towel and thought I could just grab its tail and fling it outside.  Nope.  It scurried under the couch.  I moved the couch and there it was.  I kept telling Josy to get it, but she just purred louder, pawed it gently, and sprawled out on the floor next to it.  Finally I got a plastic quart size carton and a paper plate (picture me digging around in the pantry, fumbling around, in my robe, in the middle of the night).  I cornered the rat, popped the carton over it, slid the plate under it, got the patio door open, and gave it a toss.  I told Josy to go get it.  The last I saw, she was gently pawing it.

The next morning, there was another headless rat on the family room floor.

The following night I again couldn't sleep.  I got up and came downstairs to sit in my recliner and catch up on blogs.  Josy came and settled on my lap along with my lap top.  Occasionally we heard noises.  Finally she got off my lap and went into the kitchen and just sat there listening.  I got up to check but didn't see anything.

The next morning I found rat droppings on the kitchen counter.  We had a rodent living in our house.  I suspect it was another live catch of Josy's that got away.  Searching around we found that it was probably living under the washer and dryer.  In the process we pulled out the refrigerator to check there.  There were no signs there, but now the refrigerator is not running right.  We have a service man coming on Friday.  The refrigerator is one year, two months old, so no warranty.  Nice.

We bought an electronic trap and put it in the laundry room and removed Josy's food for a night.  No catch.  Finally today we had to know if it was there.  Tom moved out the dryer and I thought a saw a tail disappearing under the washer.  We cleaned up under the dryer first.

It was time to move the washer.  What do I do if the rat runs out?  I got another carton, bigger this time, we closed the door to the rest of the house, Tom moved the washer, the rat ran out, I screamed and slammed the carton over the rat.  I caught it just below the front legs, head out.  Now what?  I just held the carton down until the rat stopped breathing, scooped it up with another carton and threw the whole thing out on the lawn.  

We had a big mess to clean up.  That rat had been living there a long time, well fed and watered from Josy's dishes.

After a bit I went outside with my camera to document the rodent kill.  I picked up the carton and the rat jumped out and ran.  Damn. It wasn't dead.  Now what?  Let it go?  No, I didn't want it back in my house, dead or alive.  I chased it, trapped it against a clump of ferns, and slammed the carton back down on it.  

 I yelled for Tom, who was still cleaning up, to bring me a weapon.  He brought the pitch fork and handed it to me.  I put my foot on the rat's tail, and told him to lift the carton.  Then he left.  I poked the pitchfork tine through the rat.  But the damn thing wouldn't die!  

There it was, impaled in the pitchfork, squirming.  I had to put it out of it's misery, and by now I really wanted it DEAD!  I got my Japanese Farmer's knife and attempted to decapitate it.  It didn't go too well, since the rat was squirming, but it was enough to finally get that rat to die.
I collected myself, still a bit shaky, and went for a 3 and a half mile walk.  I needed to walk that ghastly episode off.  I made Tom dispose of the rat.  It was the least he could do.  No way would he have done the killing.  

Meanwhile Josy has been comfortably cozy in her nest in the den closet.


  1. LIfe is never dull with the kitty! The mental images I now have.
    I really enjoy your blogs,

  2. good work on the rat, that's what growing up on a farm will do for ya, huh?!

  3. Your story reminds me of my mother opening the cabinet door to find a mouse smiling at her. Quick as a flash she grabbed a decorative kabob thingy from India and stabbed that sucker to death. I believe Jake's comment has merit.

    I think I'd see if I could do a search for where all those rats are coming from. We had a neighbor in Texas with a large compost area in her garden and rats got in it.

    In Texas, we also learned that when you have a long dry spell you'd better watch out. Rats come from everywhere searching for water.

    I had dripping bird baths in my back yard there and the bird seed began to disappear from the feeders. One night Bob stepped out on the dark patio & shined a flashlight on a big tree & rats were streaming down that tree trunk headed for water & cleaning out the bird feeders along the way.

    You may be able to solve the rat problem easier than the cat problem. I don't think Josy is going to change. You need to get to the rats before she does.

  4. Oh, and one more thing, check any bird houses you may have. We found in the long summer dry spells the rats would move into the bird houses, especially the ones in the tree I described.

  5. Good gosh!!!! You are amazing! Yikes! I had to show this post to Art. I don't think I could have been as brave. I love that last photo of Josey.

  6. @Linda: we went 80-something days with just .07" of precipitation, so the "dry spell" theory has much merit in this case.

    It has, of course, started raining this week, but the rat was already inside.

    When Josy lived with me there were two instances I knew of where she brought not-yet-dead rats in and they were healthy enough to run off and hid in the house for a few days. One if the times she eventually caught it, another time I managed to get it to run out the door while she was in pursuit.

  7. We had Judd and Black come out once years ago because our "new" (just out of warranty) fridge had quit working. They took it into their shop and we spent about $150 and a day without a fridge to find out that a tiny mouse had gotten caught in the fan of the fridge.

    Rodents of any kind make me completely crazy. If you ever want to get rid of Josie, I will give her a very good home. :)

  8. You would have fit right in with the ax murderers on Vashon! When it turns cold here we always have a few mice that try to find a new home inside ours. It's time to get out the traps, but I've been busy swatting the flies who have moved inside and sun themselves on the windows.

  9. Where do the rats come from? First, they are tree rats or roof rats. Some years ago the property behind us was developed. Old sheds and outbuildings was removed. Since then we have seen rats in the yard. Also one of the neighbors has chained up dogs that are fed outside. The dog food will also attract rats. Bird feeders will also draw them.. We used to have a lot of them around. Some neighbors still do. We live in suburbia. Rats are an issue. But we have never had them in the house before. We thank Josy for that.

  10. you and josey make quite a team-THE RAT KILLERS...lol!

  11. Feral cats on our street eliminated the rat problem. But, years ago, a rat came into the house and hid behind the refrigerator. I bought a cardboard trap with a sticky interior. I placed a little cheese in the center and the mouse stepped onto the sticky area and was trapped. It did not die, but it could not walk, either. I discarded it into the trash bin outside. This type of cardboard sticky trap is better than what you had to do. Less gory!

  12. That was scary to read about! I cannot imagine doing what you did, Linda. I am squeamish about killing anything, but especially that runs! Eeeeek!

  13. Eew, ick.
    In Florida, I hire a neighbor to pick up dropped grapefruit every day when we are not here so that citrus rats don't come around. Josy sounds a little too soft, like she would rather have a pet mouse than a snack.

  14. Wow! What a story. You were pretty brave to take pictures of everything.

    We have had mice already. I think that we have trapped 7 so far and I killed 3 babies with a flyswatter. The mama set up her nest in the stove drawer in muffin pans. Rats would freak me out.

    Kathy M.

  15. You are much braver than I am. I would have been screaming for Jim to do something the entire time. I hate mice, rats, or any of those varmints that decide they want to move inside when they belong outside. At least you know Josy is good at letting you know you have a mouse in the house. I hope this is the end of it all.

  16. The only thing scarier about a rat in the house is how my husband behaves when he's trying to get rid of it. Think rat in the garage, man in bathrobe in driveway with a shotgun.

  17. Oh my! I assume some of the tiny ones were the babes. Let's hope that there will be no more!! Hope you are making sure.
    Go to admit you are the strong one!! Killing a rat.

  18. You found humor in what I know from experience is a very frustrating and annoying situation.
    I have been battling rodents in the cabin for years. A few years ago we removed a wall heater and were pleased to find ourselves rodent free for a couple of years. Then they found another way in. I think I have managed to close off that route but I'm confident they will find another.


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