Wednesday, November 6, 2013

the rat did not wander off into the sunset

I did something today that I'm not happy about. I weighed my options and really it was the only one available to me. But I didn't like it. Don't like it and wish I could have done something else.

What I did was put poison out for a rat.

Poison strikes me as a cowardly act.

You might remember last summer when I had two of my grandkids help me clean out a rat's nest in the garage. It had moved in while we were so busy with all that work earlier in the year, gone three or four days out of every week, and had gnawed holes in a glass crate that was big enough for my cat to walk through with no problem.

After we cleaned out his nest and stopped propping the garage door open and closed off his other entry hole, I thought he had left for greener pastures because he didn't seem to be around any more.

Until about a week or two ago.

When I heard gnawing in the wall behind the toilet.

On the other side of that wall is the closet in the second, smaller, bedroom, the one that Marc uses for an office. And on the back wall of that closet, which is the other side of the wall against which sits the toilet and the sink, and in the closet side of the wall is a large panel of sheet rock that unscrews to be removed to get to the plumbing if need be.

The little dogs were here for a few days while my sister was visiting her stepson and grandkids and the little male dog, Merlin, was very interested in the closet and the spot out in the Little Backyard where the pipe comes out from under the house and underground into the septic system. I finally had to close the door to the office to keep him out of there.

So, today, I got a screwdriver and a flashlight and removed that piece of sheetrock and found myself face to face with a rat who was being disturbed from its sleep. Not even close to being a mouse.

There was a 2 x 4 stud and on the other side of that stud was a small space where it had made it's nest. And it was curled up in that nest looking up at me shining the flashlight.

Looking totally not scary and confused.

Shit. Damn.

damn damn damn

Well, now what the hell am I gonna do.

I put the sheet rock back in place and went to the feed store.

My first choice would be a live trap and turn it loose in the fallow corn field. But I've tried live traps before and they don't work. At least not on mice and rats. At least not the one I tried.

So the rat has to go. It can't live in the walls of my house. It's smelly and destructive.

I don't like killing things. Not even mice and rats.

I won't use glue traps because I think those are inhumane. Anything that makes an animal chew off it's own leg to survive is unacceptable. So I generally use spring traps after the humane trap has failed four or five times, as if spring traps are humane. My hope is that they are killed instantly but I know that's not always the case.

But a humane or spring trap was not possible here without giving the rat access to the inside of the house which is also unacceptable.

I bought poison. And I opened that sheetrock panel and shined my light on that rat with it's innocent face, it was just being a rat after all, and I dropped that chunk of poisoned food right into it's nest and closed the sheetrock panel back up.

And screwed it back in place.


  1. I just had my husband kill a mouse in my bath tub. With a bat. Okay, he chose the method.
    So now, I am not judging you. As Gail said- we do what we have to do.

  2. i have mouse poison in my side storage room. they make their way into the house. chew in the walls. get into the pantry. i don't like it either.

  3. I have zero tolerance for animals that think they can move into my house. I don't like any method of dispatching them, past showing them the door, either. But this fellow, or his cousin, didn't take the hint. Tomorrow pick him up by the tail, drop him in a freezer bag and send him off to the landfill.

  4. Well I'm just sitting here admiring your chutzpah. I would have been next door asking the elderly neighbor to come take care of it for me. Ha!

  5. I'm sorry. I know how much it hurts. Because it has happened to me, and because I can hear the grief in your voice. I was very young when I had to kill a small animal that kept killing our chickens... it hurt. But like Gail said, "We do what we must." And many times, the things we must do to survive aren't pretty...

    You've been humane by fighting it in a way that will not cause it the pain of getting its head squashed by a spring trap or having to chew its on leg off in a glue trap.

    I will have you in my thoughts...

  6. The rat must go. You have made the ethical choice, Ellen. Of course you won't enjoy killing it.

    There are so many reasons to dispatch the rat. So many!

  7. If he had chewed through an electrical wire or brought in bubonic fleas or all his 100 friends, you would have big regrets for not doing something. He has plenty of other places to live and he picked your house. Do not feel badly. I have had to kill many little gray mice as they find a way into my pantry every fall. I have looked everywhere for an entry, but mice our tiny.

  8. Oh god, I know how you feel. It's been awhile since we've had to pout poison out--been using spring traps when necessary. But in your case you had little choice.

  9. I hate making decisions like that. And if you're like me, you'll live with it on your conscience for a while. But what else could you do? As you said, living with it wasn't an option, and almost any method of control would ultimately kill the rat. Think of all the animals you have managed to spare or treat humanely, and forgive yourself for doing what you had to do.

  10. I understand how you feel. I hate killing things, too. I had to vacuum up three hornets this fall. They would get in the house and I couldn't trap them in a leftover container. Can't have them stinging us. What I do when I get stuck in that sort of no win situation is I always say I hope you have a good reincarnation. I like to imagination that stage of the animal's existence is over. They have served their purpose and with any luck are headed up the chain. I probably don't quite understand reincarnation properly. But it works for me.

  11. Ugh.. I know the feeling well. We've had a few mice decide to move into the new place. We've caught one in a plastic container (it was in the laundry tub and we nearly drowned it when we emptied the dehumidifier) and let it go some distance from the house. The rest of them (three or four) eluded the live traps and they went out with a spring trap. Hate that and I share your trepidation to use poison but yes, it's got to go.


I opened my big mouth, now it's your turn.