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A Live Rat in the House - How to Kill It.



01.03.2006 - I've learned, through ample experience, that the best way to get an "emergency" rat in the house is with the pellet gun. Here's how it works: Every now and then I get a call at 2:00 AM from a panting, stammering homeowner, who informs me, between gasps for air, that there's a RAT in the house. The homeowner also informs me that I am to come and get it immediately. At this point I will either grumble and mumble something about the rat being harmless, roll over and fall back asleep, or I'll grumble and get out of bed and get dressed and drive, half-asleep, to the afflicted home.

Upon arrival, I'll encounter a ghost- white creature resembling a human, who will direct me, with quavering voice and trembling fingers, to the living room, where a rat is darting to and fro behind the furniture. Now, if you've never seen a rat move, I'll tell you what it's like: fast and quiet, and toward the smallest, darkest hiding place available. If you've got a live rat running around in the parlor or kitchen, you've usually got two seconds to see it before it shoots across the room into another hiding spot. It'll stay still until disturbed, whereupon it'll blast off to another hiding spot. Now just how in the hell am I supposed to catch something like that?

At first, I tried all matter of trick and trap. I'd establish the rat's preferred escape routes, and line these areas with sticky glue boards, cage traps, snap traps, etc. I tried tunnels and funnels and snares, triplines and felines and prayers. Sadly, none of these methods work. Then I tried shooting the dang things. That worked. I just bring in my trusty 1000 FPS Daisy, spot the rat, line up the shot, pull the trigger, and the results can be seen in above photo. I'm either lucky or the best damn shot in the south, because I've never once missed. In fact, I usually get a head shot. The rat dies immediately, and the terrorist rodent threat is averted. The customer comes rushing over to thank our rugged hunter of beasts, and offers gifts of milk and cookies, and everyone lives happily ever after, except the rat.

To be honest, I don't go out on this sort of call much any more. The rat in the above photo will hopefully be one of my last. The problem is this: I run a business, and I work all the time. I put in a hard day's work, and I value my sleep. For my first several years on the job, I answered my phone 24-7. I thought this reasonable, as an animal emergency can happen at any time. However, after being woken up out of a deep sleep probably over 800 times (nearly every night for almost 3 years) I slowly began to recognize a trend. Nine out of ten callers who called at 2:00 AM were scum. When I say scum, I mean obnoxious, undereducated, pushy people who don't have a cent to their name, but demand, in indignant tones, that I help for free. Unfortunately, the nice, respectable people who need an honest service at a fair price simply do not pick up the phone and call at 2:00 AM. They're much too reasonable and polite to do that. So after hearing enough obnoxious people on the other end of the phone, and after going on enough jobs in which I'm promised payment as I lay in bed, but then am informed, after I take care of the problem, that oops, we have no money, I gave up. I generally leave my phone off at night, and I've gotta say, I sleep better.

Here's the thing about rats - they're not dangerous. Ignorant people assume that the things are going to eat their children in the night. The truth is that rats are about as cowardly a creature as one can find. They're paranoid, and with good reason. Everything, from cats to owls to snakes, loves to eat rats. A rat's only goal is to stick to the shadows and run and hide at the first whisp of a presence by anything bigger than it is. A rat will not attack. So the person at 2:00 AM, trembling with fear over the killer rat has no reason to worry. Go back to sleep, and deal with it in the morning.

Although Roof Rats typically inhabit the attic of a home exclusively, on occasion, a rat will enter the living quarters of the home. This usually occurs when a rat living in the attic explores its environment and crawls down the walls and finds an opening into the house. These openings usually come in the form of holes cut into the drywall by plumbers, electricians, or AC guys who need to run pipes or wires through the wall. For example, the power supply for the kitchen stove is a popular spot - the electrician cuts a hole to allow the wire through, and he cuts it too large. Now there's a hole in the wall. A rat travels down the wall, perhaps on the stove electrical wire itself, and it finds its way through the hole. Remember, rats are experts at finding cavities to enter. Any time a rat detects a change in temperature, humidity, scent, or air flow coming from a hole or gap, it knows that there's an open cavity on the other side, a place that may provide safe harborage or food sources.

Do it yourself: Visit my How To Get Rid of Rats page for tips and advice.
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