Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Packin' it in

We first meet Water Rat in Wind and the Willows when he helps a bored and restless Mole to have a wonderful adventure on the river.

As the story progresses, they and their other companions, Toad and Badger--but especially Toad--end up having quite an adventure indeed.

The story climaxes with Rat organizing an attack on the weasels and ferrets that have taken over Toad Hall.

I love Water Rat, and the Rats of NIMH, and Remy in Ratatouille. I even liked Pinkerton in Charlotte's Web. I had a pet rat when I was a kid.

I would like to like the rats that live here. But I don't. We are at war with these rats--everybody refers to them as "pack rats", for obvious reasons, but they are probably really the Eastern Wood Rat. These rats are not like the scruffy brown Norway rats that live in the big cities. These are actually rather attractive animals (except for the tail), with smooth, soft light brown fur and a creamy underside.

They are everywhere here. Everybody has a rat story. Their huge mounds of sticks and leaves can be seen here and there outside, usually at the base of trees. They collect food and store it in these mounds. The fox Richard photographed last year was digging around such a nest. It's a good defense: by the time the animal digs through the debris, the rat is gone.

But bad things happen -- very bad things happen -- when these rats decide to get up close and personal with the humans they coexist with....

  • We had to junk a car because before we could get it towed for repairs, rats got into the engine and chewed the wiring so bad that was not really possible to fix it.
  • We lost our phone connection one day because the rats chewed through the lines.
  • Rats chewed the wire leading from the garbage disposer under the sink, which caused a sparking short. If I had not heard it while I was doing dishes, we could have lost the house. Most of our electrical wiring is now in metal conduit.
We have trapped and killed many rats over the years.

Once we gave up our permanent flock of hens and ducks, we raised broilers in the chicken coop and used the barn to store stuff. Although we started moving most of the stuff out (or throwing it away) when the roof started leaking, there is still some stuff out there. I went out there the other day to look for something and the rats have moved in.

This huge nest is sitting on what once upon a time was a redwood hot tub.

And then out in the chicken coop...

which has also been abandoned...

there is another nest.

The last time we sat traps for the rats, we managed to kill two wrens. I am not sure what we will do about these guys. Something.

And in the mean time, I need to get a life. I had a dream about Pioneer Woman last night.


The Weaver of Grass said...

You sound quite a Pioneer woman yourself! We get rats here on the farm - ordinary brown rats. I am afraid we keep poison down uner the hen house and a permanent trap set - that keeps them down, but we can never eradicate them completely. After all they are part of nature like we are.
Glad you like Wind in the Willows. If you see some of my older posts you will see that it is thought that the beck which runs through our land had some part to play in Kenneth Grahame;s writing of the book as he stayed near here before he wrote it.

Tami said...

Not really sure about Rats....other than wellllll not really fond of their tails. But love the Wind in the Willows.