Welcome to the Rat Race

So, it seems we’ve been having an influx of critters in our neighborhood – mostly squirrels, raccoons… and now, rats.

Many are blaming a certain neighbor, who we believe is responsible for the increasing population of squirrels. For the past two or three years, we’ve found peanut shells all over our yard, as well as a noticable absence of tulips – as we planted the bulbs, they dug them right back up and ate them. One day, the said neighbor came over to my house and blamed my younger sister for shooting a BB gun at his window and shattering it. He was insistent, even though my sister doesn’t own a BB gun. We later found out it was another neighbor, shooting at the army of squirrels eating peanuts and digging through his gardens. And the squirrels are quite brazen now, too – they don’t run as quickly when we come outside or when our dog Obi is frolicking around the back yard (or did all my neighbor’s peanuts make them too fat to run?).

Next came the raccoons. They make horrible shrieking noises in the night, almost like cats fighting. I always run outside to see what it is, hoping that our cats Pippin and Merry didn’t get out. One night, I saw two of the bandits fighting WWE-style on top of the culprit neighbor’s roof.

And now the rats. They’ve been spotted scurrying up and down the driveway two doors down, and have been heard scratching around other yards. Now with the construction going on, we’re hoping they don’t get in the house, lest we have the same situation as a decade ago.


When I was about 14 years old, we started to notice things around the house being chewed up, namely soaps and food. Then one day, we saw something black scurry across the kitchen floor. We thought one of our many gerbils had gotten loose, until this black creature decided to come into the living room and watch television with us. It was then we noticed it was a fat, black rat.We first set out Havahart trap, because we didn’t want to kill the poor thing. But he alluded it. Next came the snap traps, but he knew how to get the peanut butter and cheese without setting it off. We finally put out glue traps, but to no avail… he was quite the Frank Abagnale. He would come out every night to say hello, then scurry off to wherever his little rodent heart desired. We eventually named him Templeton, after the rat in Charlotte’s Web.

One night, my younger sister was in the kitchen making a snack when Templeton ran over her feet. She stood in the doorway between the kitchen and living room, her feet moving, but not going anywhere. She finally said, breathlessly, “Oh my God, the rat!” Meanwhile, we were sure Templeton was crouched in the corner somewhere, saying, “Oh my God, the human!”

We never knew where he ran off to at night. He was a very neat rat, and left no indication, including droppings, that he had been around, sans a chewed-up bag of Oreo cookies. He stuck around for about two years, then disappeared as mysteriously as he came.

A few months after Templeton left, our dishwasher broke and we had to install a new one. That is when we discovered his secret dwelling and learned he was quite the pack rat. In quite a compressed cube of items, we found: paper towels, old chicken bones, three earrings that I had “lost” over a year before, black banana peels, socks, a sponge, some Brillo, a shoelace and other miscellaneous bric-a-brac. We were stunned that it never caused a fire.

Now, every time I hear scratching, I wonder if we have a new houseguest. We don’t live in a neighborbood that should have rats!

One Response to “Welcome to the Rat Race”

  1. Lexcie says:

    To prevent bulbs from being dug up, put bulbs in deep, then cover with earth, then sprinkle hot chilli pepper flakes on top of earth, then cover the chilli pepper flakes with a thin later of earth.

    Rats and squirrels learn very quickly that chilli pepper bad for their nose.

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