Rat Slayer—sticking with Michaelmas theme
It never fails to amuse me that when someone comes to my door and knocks—and my pups explode into a barking frenzy—I open the door and the person says, “I couldn’t find your doorbell” as they quickly start backing away from the door. This is what happened last week, when an employee from the city arrived to discuss my rat issues that I had called in six weeks previously. I stepped outside to greet my rat killer, a short guy with Frances embroidered on his uniform, who kindly offered to address my rat issues. He assured me that when it came to rats he was like a cat. Orkin had already solved my rat issues six weeks earlier, but I figured why not let Francis take a look around. I knew that if anyone could recognize the signs of a rat, it would be someone who worked for the city of Chicago.
The first thing Frances pointed out were the thick hostas along the side of my house. Rats, it seems, like to run between walls and plants. He suggested that I create a large path between my plants, which would make the rats visible. If I saw one, I should hit it on the head with something hard, such as a shovel or a shoe. My mission was not to stun it but to kill it and leave the body as a message for other rats. According to Frances, rats are smart; they don’t want to go where there has been trouble. I must have looked doubtful, because Frances assured me that killing a rat was easy if you hit it right along the neck bone.
Next, Frances spoke, in great detail, about the dining habits of rats, which are not— and this may surprise you—discerning gourmets. I will spare you the details and leave their dietary consumption to your imagination . . . or not. However, I will share what I thought was an interesting rat fact: rats cannot throw up. This was a huge relief to my sweet mother, who told me, when I shared this fact with her, that she had always harbored a secret fear that a rat would race up out of nowhere and throw up on her shoes. Have I mentioned that my odd family has a warped sense of humor?
Show and Rat became especially exciting for Francis when he found rat droppings in our back shed. He generously held out the official rat-spotting flash light and encouraged me to step forward to take a look see for myself. No. Francis insisted that it was only rat poop but quickly learned that no means no. Recovering from his disappointment, he went on to tell me that barbed wire around the walls of the shed were my best recourse and offered to set bait traps in the alley along the fence line. Thank you.
The last rat fact Francis shared before he left was that the smell of peppermint offends rodents and he suggested that I buy some peppermint oil. I plan to soak some cotton balls in the oil and also plant some peppermint in the back portion of the yard. I only hope the neighborhood rodents don’t think I’m inviting them for tea!
The good news is the rat problem seems to be solved. We haven’t seen one in weeks. Happy dance! But to all of you who are shuddering and thinking that there is no way I could handle a rat problem, I am smiling knowingly, “Oh sure you could.” When you don’t have a choice, you have to keep calm, be rational, and aim for the neck.
Odd Loves Company!