A Rat With a Ph.D.

You thought I was joking, didn’t you? How else can I explain the clever kitchen rat that continues to elude capture?

Two weeks ago today we realized that a cat named Mouse gifted our abode with a living rat. The irony! Mouse likes bringing us unharmed critters from the garden, including lizards and (gulp) rodents. Not only did the rat move in, he broke the dishwasher by chewing through the cord.

gnashing of teeth

Gnashing of teeth

Our earnest attempts at a humane, home-made trap failed. After a bit of research I found a no-kill trap that would do the job, but had to order it online from the store. That turned into a debacle and if interested,  you can read about it on my post titled Unwanted Gifts, Ahead by a Whisker.  After hours of credit-card, customer service, no-one-answers-the-phone-anymore-hell, I gave up and ordered from another online vendor.

Meanwhile, I called a couple of repair places to no avail.

When my live-in handyman finally returned from an eight-day trip to Argentina and said he could fix it, no problem. One visit to the hardware store and an $8 part later and we were back in business. Mike pulled the dishwasher away from the wall and found the beginnings of a nest but no rat. Further assessment of the cord proved once again that the rat has a Ph.D. He chewed through the ground wire and not the hot wire, which would have led to instant death.

The following Monday, my extra-small, Havahart humane trap arrived in the mail. The box looked battered and bruised, but the trap was in good working order. We set it up that night.

Ha! That’s probably what the rat sounded like when he scoffed at the trap. I’m not falling for that.

And he didn’t.

Night after night, we re-bated the trap with delicious pecans, pecans with peanut butter, peanut butter and pear and, the trap remain untouched.  No signs of droppings either. Then we heard him again, chewing under one of the cabinets near the sink.  I pressed  my ear to the cabinet, straining to hear where the chewing sound was coming from. I opened one of the drawers and then the cabinet, fully expecting an encounter. Nothing.

Exasperated, I set the trap aside for a few days, and went back to putting peanut butter and fruit on a pie tin under the sink.

Oh sure, that he ate! I found cute little teeth marks in the side of a chunk of peanut butter. Sigh.

If you’re looking for a motivational speaker for your next event, our resident rat can share a thing or two about tenacity and spunk. He’s* eluded the jaws of a cat, several humane traps and the temporary relocation of his dishwasher condo.

Check out this link and accompanying video: Rats are Smarter Than you Think.

*Note: I don’t know if the kitchen rat is a he or a she. I prefer to think it’s a he and not a mama about to have babies.

Tree Rat

Mouse or rat one summer in our orange tree


tree rat at birdfeeder

Tree rat snacking at the bird feeder once upon a time


Garden Spruce Up Continues: Old Swing, New Discovery

It’s a busy week!  Since I can’t sew and plant and take pictures all day long, I fit things in when I can.  Yesterday I pre-washed my garden swing upholstery fabric (goodbye sizing, hello softness) and today set up the ironing board.  I had about ten minutes to plot my pattern strategy, also known as winging it, when I heard rustling in the orange tree.  I thought I might catch a glimpse of the squirrel entering or exiting the nest but no luck.  (They are probably out front trying to outsmart my screen saver).

After three minutes of neck-craning, I ran inside for the camera.  A powerful camera lens trumps my aging eyesight any day of the week.  Camera in hand, I still couldn’t make it out!  Was it a bird nesting or eating?  I caught a glimpse of gray and wondered if the mourning doves were back.  We don’t see them as often as we used to, and in this month of crow mating season, they are even scarcer.  Whatever was up there was clearly enjoying a long drink of orange juice.

Sated, the gray one made its move.  Methinks a rat..or a mouse…or a rat.  In broad day light!   Shouldn’t they be sleeping in the middle of the day instead of snacking on oranges?

Is it a bird?

Nope!  Definitely Not a Bird

Is it a Rat or a Mouse?

White Beard, Photo Artifact or Orange Pulp?

Is this a young rat or a grown mouse?  Take this short quiz and let me know what you think.  I got 10 out of 12 correct, but I’m still undecided.