Thursday, May 20, 2010

More on the Rats Wars

Rats Wars isn't as grammatically pleasing as Rat Wars, but I like that Rats backwards spells Star.

It's about the only pleasing thing in this situation. I can't have big vermin like this around the house. They're dangerous and dirty on a lot of levels. But they're also cute.

Yes, I admit, I like rats. I used to have a Chinese hooded rat for a pet. We named him Charm. The fact that these rats are brown/gray/reddish (depending on the individual) and wild doesn't distance them sufficiently from my pet for me to think of them as something radically different from Charm. In fact, I suspect they have a lot more in common with domesticated rats than domesticated cats have with wild cats. I think that if they were hand raised they would be easily tame-able, trainable, and would probably make decent pets just like Charm was.

I found Charm in a Hewlett Packard parking lot. What he was doing there, I have no idea. He ran up to me while I was doing a security check (in broad daylight) and climbed up onto my shoe. He was mouse-sized, so I assumed he was someone's pet mouse. I carried him inside, gave him water and part of my lunch, and put up a sign: Found, Domesticated Animal in Parking Lot. Identify to Claim.

No one asked about any animal at all, so my DH (boyfriend at the time) and I kept him. And he was great. He learned a lot of tricks, and enjoyed running freely around our apartment (though we kept him in his cage at night.)

Back to the present. When I saw an adult female bringing her two young over to the dog food bowl, I knew we were in trouble. We clearly had more than one rat. So far I've identified five--Big Red, a large male with a ginger 'hat', Junior, another male, all gray/brown, who is fighting Big Red for the top spot but is too small to pull it off, the adult female which my DH trapped yesterday (sigh-yay) and her young which I've dubbed big sis and little sis. I'm only guessing at this point that the two youngsters are female.

I wish we could let them be, but I know we can't. Their population will explode (again) and will create new entrances into the house. After all the work we had to do to get rid of the indoor group nesting in our house and garage ... no. Not gonna happen just because these guys are pretty neat.

But they are pretty nifty animals, and I have to admit that I enjoy watching them scurry across the porch (even while part of me is screaming Gah! every time they do it) and using their clever little front paws to pick out the best dog food kibble from the bowl. The girl child likes watching them too. "Why do I like watching them so much?" she asked me.

"You're getting in touch with your inner kitty," I told her. "It's fun to watch prey animals." But it's more than that, I know. I didn't think to mention it at the time, or maybe I did. I just have to admire such a successful, determined, clever animal that can steal food right from under the noses of our dogs.

On the other hand, it's not that hard. Our dogs don't chase small things. They protect them.

Yet another one of those times when I really miss my running buddy, Beast.

So we're trying to deal with them. It looks like their main nests are in the lawn, though they clearly have holes under the porch too. When the weather gets nice (I know, I've been saying this forever) the porch really does have to go. And I have to mow that lawn.

Sorry my little ratty neighbors. I hope you have something that'll warn you.

It's Moving Day.

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