Rats! We have rats, and other hazards of urban life


Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against rats per se.  I just don’t like them around my house.  They’re voracious and can be highly aggressive, which is one reason why they’ve adapted so well to city life.  I know they make great pets and I’ve met some lovable rats in my time, but city rats?  Not so much.


  A few nights ago, Glinda and I were out in the garden, and I saw something run past, hugging the wall of the garage.  You don’t live in the city your whole life without learning how to recognize various forms of wildlife by their silhouette and the way they move.  We have rabbits; this was not a rabbit.  It was also not a stray cat, dog, opossum, raccoon, vole, wombat or T-rex (Though I’m told that when our late, un-lamented imported Japanese grass, stuff that laughed in the face of our lawn mower, was at its tallest there were sightings of tigers, giraffes and dinosaurs.) This was a rat.  It wasn’t threatening anyone, it was just using the garage wall superhighway to get from one side of the garden to the other.  The problem is that it or its kin, have been sighted around here quite a lot lately, so I reported it to Streets and Sanitation.


 The S&S car showed up two days later, manned by some very nice folks who do a thankless job.  I brought them into the garden to show them where the rat had been and the guy  said, “I see a problem already.”  Of course I said, “Oh gosh, what?”  “This is way too nice a garden,” he said.  “They want to be here.”  I told him I’d never heard that rats had well-developed aesthetic senses, but that I’d bear that in mind.


This very nice man, named Goodman (Quite apt.), taught me how to recognize a rat hole (Goes straight down about two to three feet, and then horizontal.) and that bleach, ammonia and mothballs all deter them.  I’m not big on mothballs since they’re not only probably carcinogenic but they’re very damaging to cats and can cause total liver failure in short order, but the other two wouldn’t be bad to sprinkle around the house.  The bleach would certainly kill the weeds.  I asked about peppermint oil and he confirmed that they hate it, so our garden is going to smell like peppermint this summer, I think.  I also have a bottle of animal repellent that we got when shopping the other day.  We wanted to use it on our fruit and veggies, but it gets into the plant and makes them taste and smell horrible, which is not really what we want in our crops.  However as soon as the wind dies down a bit here — I totes do not want a face full of that stuff — I’m going to spray along the back of the yards from the sidewalk across to Linda’s place.


To be honest, I wish we didn’t have to call out S&S.  I wish they didn’t have to kill as many rats as they can or put out poison where other animals can get it.  Goodman told me that yeah, rabbits may well eat the stuff.  I don’t like killing things, and I sure don’t like doing it by accident while attempting to kill other things.  I wish there was a better way to live with these creatures.  All we’re really doing is breeding smarter, stronger rats, and that’s not a good thing.

Doin'  the bunny shuffle My rabbit, Nutmeg; she’s one reason why I love bunnies.


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