- by Rebecca York
I live in a small city between Washington and Baltimore where I’ve got plenty of room to indulge my love of nature. In fact, I’ve been happily tending my flower gardens and feeding the friendly wildlife for years.
But recently, I saw a small gray animal dart out from under the front porch. It was about two-thirds the size of a squirrel but with a long, skinny tail. When I spotted another one dash across my yard and disappear under a neighbor’s deck, I started wondering if I’d opened a rat campground.
I called the pest control company that keeps my house ant-free, and they brought out black plastic boxes with poison bait. The guy told me it wouldn’t work if I was still feeding the birds and squirrels, but I didn’t want to believe him. Until the afternoon my handyman showed me where rats were coming out from a burrow in the back garden to eat the seeds scattered under the bird feeder. I stood at the sliding glass door watching happy little rats leap into the low birdbath for a cooling drink. I saw rats lounging in the sun on my deck. I saw them gathering in convivial groups to exchange pleasantries on the patio.
That’s when I freaked and started dreaming about an old Lovecraft story called, “The Rats in the Walls.”
I don’t have anything personal against rats. I know they’re just out there trying to make a living like everyone else. But not in my yard, thank you. Not when they breed every thirty days.
Since I’ve altered my longtime bird and squirrel feeding habits, I haven’t seen any rats. Maybe they’re being more circumspect. Maybe the bait’s finally working. Or perhaps the various devices I’ve bought over the Internet are doing the trick. Remember when the FBI blasted the Waco compound with non-stop rock and roll music? I’ve got two transmitters under the sunroom that broadcast noises we can’t hear but are supposed to drive rats batty. I’m not going to talk about the live traps you bait with peanut butter, but now I’ve got a plastic container of granules that smell like the mothballs my mother threw in with her winter clothes. The peppermint oil and cougar urine haven’t arrived yet, but I’m eager to give them a try. My buying orgy has landed me on Amazon’s “infested list.” They’re keeping track of my Web travels and spending habits and sending me helpful ads for all sorts of pest control devices. On the off chance that I’ve got other invaders, they want to sell me a small solar mole and gopher chaser and a Spring Star mosquito trap, among others.
If YOU have any rat control suggestions, don’t hesitate to pass them along. Or share your vermin stories. I’d like to know I’m not alone.