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The rat is dead, long live the rat.

Posted in Life & Love

500px-photo-quot-tight-rope-rat-banksy-quot-by-banksyphotos-5003I had to kill a rat today. And yes, I understand why: they infest our food, are able to multiply seemingly on their own, know no boundaries and spread disease. But it was awful.

This rat has been living large in our house for the past month or so. We’ve seen him, heard him, found the results of his forays into our food. He has banged at the window when he couldn’t get in, mastered the art of pushing open the doggie door, made a nest for himself by digging out dusty plaster and eaten his way through apples, lemons, bananas, bread and small sackful of organic flour. One night we heard gnawing sounds which I tracked to the sideboard, and found Ratty sitting underneath, with one of Jack’s chew toys in his hands, munching away.

banksy-rat-toxicHis ingenuity was boundless: jumping, swinging, running up walls – to get where he wanted to go. He was as smart as hell too – he took some of Jack’s food pellets and ferried them across to his lair, storing them nearby. And I am pretty sure he was drinking from Jack’s water bowl – I heard delicate lapping sounds from the kitchen one evening, while I was working in my office.

I developed a grudging respect for this critter – but sofabrother wasn’t having any of it. “Soon as you are on holiday and Jack is out of the house”, he said, “I am putting Rattex down. He needs to go.”

True to his word he did so, keeping me updated as to the progress of Ratty’s interaction with the poison. That stuff is horrendous – it is basically big doses of a blood-thinner (Warfarin), mixed into a really nice tasting pellet. The animals die in agony – from internal bleeding. Which I saw, because when I came home, and helped move the washing machine so we could clean behind it – there he was. Lying in a puddle of his own blood. Gasping gently, bleeding from his mouth and anus, making little sounds – in terrible pain.

331854784_3ba0c68169God knows how long he had been there – but, judging from the blood slick, it must have been a while. He had tried desperately to dig through stuffing I had put into the wall. Trying to get out of the house, to go where I can’t imagine – but he must have known he was in mortal danger. I watched him lying there and knew I had to do something. And the only thing I could think of was to drown him. Another godawful way to die – but one I could manage and one which, I hoped, would go pretty fast.

It didn’t. It was six long minutes of me holding this poor animal down with a hand brush in a bucket of water – watching as he tried to survive. His little paws twitching and reaching for help. His eyes opening and shutting as he tried to swim away. Delicate bubbles coming from his mouth and nose. Little wafts of blood in them. It was too terrible. I talked to him the whole time – apologising and promising we wouldn’t do anything like this ever again. Telling him I was trying to put him out of his pain. Eventually he stopped moving and his body curled into the foetal position.

I was shaken: “It had to be done”, my mother consoled me; “he was suffering.”

Thoreau once said “The squirrel that you kill in jest, dies in earnest.” The impact of taking this creature’s life sat with me all evening. I still feel sad and low. Life is shit sometimes – all he ever did was be exactly what he was created to be: a rat. And still it killed him.

(Images are of urban artworks by Banksy, the brilliant British graffiti artist. I think they honour Ratty’s spirit.)

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  1. When I heard what those poisons do to creatures, I vowed to never use them again. It’s just a too horrific way to go. The sharp snap of a trap is far more humane even if the outcome is ultimately the same for the rat.

    May 11, 2015
  2. Lisa

    🙁 not nice

    May 9, 2015
  3. I’ve dealt with mice and (unfortunately) rats over the years. Mice are annoyances and I learned not to use the D-Con type poison oats as bait because they take it and store it someplace, such as in my dresser or in a box of off-season clothes that I had stored in my closet. Then they crawl inside your walls and die and the stench is terrible.
    I considered a live trap. Then I asked myself what I would do if and when I trapped the rodent? Would I blindfold him and drive him to the next town to be released? If I just set him outside the house, the entire process would begin anew.
    So, I opted for covered traps. It was fairly efficient and I knew to keep setting them each day until I ran out of mice.
    However, when a rat found his way into my kitchen and continued to make regular visits, I called the exterminator. Enough is enough.

    May 8, 2015
    • sofagirl

      My vet says I should capture the rat next time and bring to them. They will put it down humanely. Still hate the idea of killing a creature just because of what it is.

      May 12, 2015
  4. What a horrible ordeal. I have mice and squirrels in my attic. I just have to keep reminding myself – if they are not paying rent, they must go.

    May 8, 2015
  5. I agree with Camparigirl. Using poison can be horribly dangerous to other animals, and the poor things that ingest it suffer so much to die, only because they were born the wrong species. Get yourself a humane trap and use it next time, ok? I can’t imagine how you feel right now, I’m so sorry…

    May 8, 2015
  6. camparigirl

    I am not going to scold you because I know you feel awful already. However, please tell sofabrother that, next time, an old-fashioned trap will do. Portia was poisoned with rat poison she found at some neighbours and I didn’t realize it for days, until she started bleeding from her mouth. By the time we reached the ER, they told me she was bleeding from all her major organs, including her brain. It’s a miracle she was saved and even more miraculous there was no apparent neurological damage. Rats are very bright creatures, who adapt to their environment quickly. We are lucky here as they proliferate in the winter (I have seen evidence in the garage) but, come Spring, rattesnakes and hawks take care of the problem. Still, I had a couple making into the house and they had to go. I use basic traps with peanut butter. It takes longer, because sometimes they outsmart the traps but they eventually get caught. And, if they are still alive, you can release them. (PS those poisons have been outlawed here because they were killing the wildlife. Rats would ingest them, move away and then coyotes and mountain lions would eat the dead rats and on and on). I will confess the image of you trying to drown a rat sort of made me smile…

    May 8, 2015

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