Saturday, March 28, 2009


So, we have rats in our basement.

Aa noticed this a little less than a week ago when he was down in the garage doing some cleaning. Apparently, there was a box filled with those corn-based packing peanuts. And Aa discovered the little peanuts scattered around the garage, half-eaten, and a huge hole in the box itself. Also, droppings. I am reporting all this second-hand, see, because THERE IS NO EFFING WAY I AM GOING DOWN THERE UNTIL THE RATTIES ARE GONE.

Over the past few days, Aa has observed that the rats have clawed at the door separating the garage and the basement proper. At least one of the ratties successfully got through that door, because there are now droppings in our basement. Of course, we are having exterminators come. They come this afternoon (I will thankfully be at work when this happens). But just the idea that the rats are clawing through the garage door and are slowly invading our living space freaks me out, but I'm not freaking out as badly as I thought I would.

There are a few reasons I'm not totally losing my shit about the ratties. One, I know rats show up around here. We kind of live in a high-rat traffic area. There's a gas station right next to our backyard, with a huge dumpster a couple of feet from our back fence. And more than once, I've seen one of those little disease-carriers running across our back fence at dusk. But in 2. years, they've never come into our backyard (that I've seen) and they've never, ever come into our house (till now). None of our neighbors report frequent or recurring rat problems. So it seems like there's a truce of some kind between the vermin and the human residents of this block. At least, imagining this makes me feel better.

Two, I don't want to turn this into another thing about the Midwest versus the Pacific NW, but the rats here are fucking tiny. They look like mice with really long tails. The rats I saw running along the subway tracks in Chicago (or, one morning, running down Dearborn as a bunch of us office drones sleepily made our way to our cublicles) are like twice the size of these little guys. They looked like the rat in Lady and the Tramp - you know, that big fucker with the glowy red eyes that wanted to eat that baby? That's how big the rats I saw in Chicago were. Big, baby-eating size. I thought all rats were that big. Now, I know these littler rats are still capable of carrying disease around and they're obviously still able to claw and poop everyplace. That makes me shudder, but it doesn't make me want to run screaming from my own house.

Three, my dog isn't freaking out. See, my dog was bred in part to hunt big rats in Africa. And we had a rat in our old apartment once. I was, praise Jeebus, out of town. But Aa describes how Zack went after that little ratty. Aa says the rat was first spotted in the kitchen, running across our countertop. Aa was holding Zack. Zack spotted the rat and apparently leapt straight out of Aa's arms onto the counter to catch the rat. He chased it away, but later that night he awoke from a dead sleep - the rat was now in the bedroom, and Zack was determined to catch it. Aa said he'd never seen Zack like that before. Probably our poor dog was having the time of his life. I explain all this because for the last few days, Zack hasn't been acting any differently. He's not shown any awareness of other animals in our house, especially ones he was bred to hunt and kill. So either my dog has become significantly more domesticated and stupid in the last two years, or the rats aren't coming anywhere near us humans. Because if they were, my dog would be reacting. This last bit of knowledge is pretty much what lets me go to sleep at night unconcerned about the ratties breaching the upstairs.

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