The Exile Files

Raging Against the Outrageous. Laughter and Insanity Abound.

You Dirty Rat

Posted by Exile on March 28, 2022

As James Cagney never actually said….

I’ve had rats in my garden. Two of them. One much larger than the other. City ordinances here dictate that I report them to the local council who then send a rat-catcher out to rid us of them. Usually by placing poison around the area and hoping that the rat eats that instead of the spilled bird seed that I feed a flock of about 60 birds with every day. That didn’t happen, but I thought I needed to respond to the infestation in some way, so I shot the big one with an air rifle. I know I hit him high in the back and from above, so I’m pretty sure I killed him, even if he did manage to make it back to the hole he came out of.
I’ve found the hole. It is situated next to the main drain from the house. The rat-catcher came back and I showed him the tunnel. We poked a smoke generator down it and, right enough, it seems the drain has collapsed. Time to involve the insurance company then and get it fixed.
I haven’t seen the smaller rat since I shot the big one, so perhaps I have managed to scare her away.
I did get some film on a trail camera but I haven’t seen her out and about in daylight hours.
The rats we have here are known as brown rats. Rattus Norvegicus, to be exact. The largest of the rat species, at least here in Europe. I’ve done a bit of research since having been visited by them.
“Dirty rat” is a resounding misnomer. They actually groom themselves more often than cats. They probably have a bad reputation because of the outbreak of plague way back in the late middle ages. It wasn’t the rats that caused it. It was actually the fleas they carried. The rats were immune but we humans weren’t. The flea bite was the infection point. Rats make good pets. They are intelligent, trainable and are employed in some unexpected areas. They can sniff out explosives, land mines and tuberculosis. They are also quite affectionate in captivity. I’m sure we’ve all heard of “lab rats”.
I’ve made a decision about my treatment of them. I’ve changed my mind about simply killing them off. I realise they can cause problems for farmers and grain stores, but I have neither a farm nor a store. Once we get the drains fixed, they won’t be back. Their exit, or entry way into my garden, will be gone. They will doubtless continue to forage, as do all wild creatures, but with the advancements in medicine since the great plagues, I realise we have little to fear from them. I’m going to let live. Stripping the world of these creatures will not enhance our existence. In fact, it may do us immeasurable damage.
The poison in the garden has been removed.

2 Responses to “You Dirty Rat”

  1. James said

    My next to youngest daughter kept a couple of pet rats. She came out of her room with a rat on each shoulder to watch some television in the evenings. They do keep themselves quite clean and wouldn’t even go back into the cage if it was in need of a cleaning. They build quite an affection for ‘their people’ over time as well.

    • Exile said

      Which bears out what I found, Jim. Once you start to look at them as just another creature in nature instead of being an enemy of the state, they do have a certain appeal. Hence my decision to live and let live.

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