Thursday, March 3, 2011

Rats!

Ellie noticed it first--a scattered heap of fresh wood chips...


... outside her studio. Our first thought that they were the result of some odd carpentry work on the part of one of our handyman neighbors, so Ellie swept up the debris and we thought that would be the end of it.

Well, no... the next day, more chips. All over the place. We explored further, and found the evidence: animal chew marks on numerous small branches and twigs of the old bougainvillea growth on either side of our balcony...


And small brown turds...


They looked like rat droppings, but I always thought rat droppings were black. I was puzzled.

What do you do in such circumstances? These days, of course, you head for the computer and go online. I googled "small animal droppings" and found a site called All Experts. I sent in my question, and got an answer before the end of the day. Yes, indeed this was likely to be rats, and rats do poop brown sometimes, depending on what kind of nuts they have been eating.

These ones hadn't been eating nuts, they'd been eating our treasured bougainvillea plants--and had inflicted, we discovered on closer examination, extensive damage. We wonder whether the plants will survive this attack.

We wondered, too, how all this had been happening without our noticing. This character...


... whose job it should be to warn us of intruders, has been sleeping soundly in the sitting room all evening, and has not uttered a word of protest while the rats have been busy, gnawing away right outside the window. He claims that he has more important things to do.


And now we are faced with that familiar, troubling question: as with ants and cockroaches and other pests who choose to invade our territory, how do we address this problem? As one who likes to take the dharma seriously, I shrink from taking life. It's possible, my friendly All Expert expert informed me, to trap the critters live; they have to be taken at least five miles from the point of origin before being released. This prospect leaves me squeamish for other-than-Buddhist reasons. I fear I might be about to implement the death penalty. Is there anyone out there who can save me from myself?

5 comments:

mandt said...

George the ninja dog must be just an observer and thus, impartial. As for the Dharma, when we lived in Bennington and the woodchuck we named Henry, turned out to be Henrietta and multiplied in one season to an alarming degree, thus chewing down the new plantings one Spring, we got have-a-heart traps and transported the whole lot across the bridge and river to Bennington College, where we observed them the next Spring frolicking (twice their number) after their classes in modern dance and Medieval French poetry were over. They seemed quite content. Although it would be a massive job, you could transport your lot to say, Pomona. Good Karma!!!

mandt said...

ps. that picture of George skulking behind the flowers is delightful. Bodhi thinks he does the Spaniel vibs to perfection.

CHI SPHERE said...

Small catching cages/traps are available in various sizes at any Ace hardware. They work very well. They are galvanized sheet metal and wire mesh and cost about $25.

robin andrea said...

As mandt mentioned, you could get a have-a-heart trap and then transport the little critters out of town. It's work, but it's doable. Good luck with it.

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks for the encouragement and suggestions!