Rats!

When the icy winds of the December flash freeze were howling outside, I crammed all my unplanted lovelies into my little garden shed. At least then they’d be out of the wind, I thought. Since they were out of harms way, I left them in there, only checking on them here and there. When I say “checking”, it pretty much means sticking my head through the door – the shed was so full of plants, I don’t think I could have fit even one more. On one of those checks, I started noticing things I didn’t like, things like mouse droppings – everywhere! Or were they mouse droppings? They seemed a little on the large side. Things had started inexplicably falling over here and there, and over it all, there was a disgusting smell. Yuck!

By now, it had warmed up outside, so on one of my days off, I started hauling all the plants back outside again. Then, I realized the extent of the damage. Crap!

There had been some excavation under one of the floor pavers, and there was a pile of sand in the corner.

There had been some excavation under one of the floor pavers, and there was a pile of sand in the corner.

I don't remember if this has always looked like this, but now I'm suspicious!

I don’t remember if this has always looked like this, but now I’m suspicious!

Fallen objects, and droppings - lots of them. Here they are mixed with bird seed and fertilizer, which was also strewn throughout. And yes - there were big holes in the bags.

Fallen objects, and droppings – lots of them. Here they are mixed with bird seed and fertilizer, which was also strewn throughout. And yes – there were big holes in the bags. What a stinking mess! They must have had a veritable party!

As I was moving the plants out, I noticed a lot of them had been mutilated. Some were gone completely, like my Aeonium ‘Schwartzkopf’. Evaporated, like it had never existed. My little Agave parryi was completely chewed off, poor thing. I brought that one inside to monitor any heroic attempts at recovery. Fingers crossed!

IMG_7058

Look at my poor little agave! Stupid little rodent f%&*#rs – the war is on!!!!

 

When I told my husband I thought we had rats, he confirmed it by telling me that the night before, he had seen something scurrying across the roof of the shed, and that it didn’t have the bushy tail of a squirrel. I spent the evening reading up on rats. Apparently Norway  rats and Roof rats are the two most common in this area. Roof rats are called that because they are good climbers. another trait is that they also feed on vegetation more than their cousins. Which might explain the tortured plants. But the burrowing underneath the pavers confuses the matter – the Norwegians do more of that than the Roof rats. Oh well, it doesn’t really matter what it is. All I know is that I suddenly have a rat problem, and that I’d better deal with it – quickly!

This is my first line of defense - Manneman. He's a great mouser, so I thought if I leave the door to the shed open, he might have an easier time getting to them.

This is my first line of defense – Manneman. He’s a great mouser, so I thought if I leave the door to the shed open, he might have an easier time getting to them.

When I let my cat out last night, I told him to go catch a rat. And wouldn’t you know it – the dear boy did! When I left for work this morning, I saw the evidence of his mouser prowess!

Good job, Manneman! It wasn't very big, but judging from its feet, it looks more like rat than mouse to me. Probably a young rat, which means that they are probably breeding as I write this. Yikes!

Good job, Manneman! It wasn’t very big, but judging from its feet, it looks more like rat than mouse to me. Probably a young rat, which means that they are probably breeding as I write this. Yikes!

Wish me luck in my new role as exterminator. If you have any good advice, I’d love to hear it. I’m off to get some traps!

 

 

 

About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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18 Responses to Rats!

  1. Alison says:

    My only advice is to hire an exterminator. We had a problem with rats last year, and I used a service. They did an excellent job. No more rats. I lost a succulent type plant that was in my garage to them. Poor Agave!

  2. mattb325 says:

    I don’t envy you with rats. Good luck with getting rid of them!

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks – I had planned to go get some traps, but after Alison’s comment, I decided to go pro on them. I emailed an exterminator last night. It’s still dark outside up here, but I want to go out and check if my fine kitty managed to destroy another one. But yes – no dilly-dallying around with this one. Usch!

  3. Peter/Outlaw says:

    We battle them every winter when they decide to move inside. I’m thinking that Alison’s advice is sound and should follow it myself! Good luck with your visitors!

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks Peter. I was considering battling them on my own, but as soon as I saw Alison’s comment, I emailed an exterminator. Hope to hear back from him today. I really hope it’s a short term thing… Every winter huh? I feel for you… 😦

  4. Oh no! I had no idea they’d chew on plants, and agaves at that! One of our neighbors mentioned having a problem a few years back and taking action, and indeed I discovered a dead one in the garden when I was mowing one day. I went all girlie and ran over to the neighbors and asked him to make it go away (Andrew was at work and that thing was HUGE). Good luck!

    • annamadeit says:

      Based on what I read, the Roof rats are the ones that will go for the greens. (But the burrowing in the floor confused me – maybe I have both kinds???) Good grief – I sure hope they stay out of your massive stash. Maybe you should put a couple of traps in your greenhouse too, just as a precaution?

  5. Kris P says:

    Yikes indeed! I was surprised when another blogger reported that deer ate succulents but I’m even more surprised to learn that rats would do that. We see them occasionally here (in fact one drowned in a trug full of rain water in December) but I’ve never seen evidence that they’re grazing among my plants – perhaps the raccoons keep them at bay. I hope you solve your problem quickly!

  6. Elvis says:

    Oh no. In the past, I have seen the occasional one going for the sewer, but I’m happy to report that we don’t seem to have a home invasion. It’s good to hear that professionals are needed in the event we do have a problem. Good luck to you and Manneman in eliminating the problem!

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks Jane! The exterminator is scheduled for Monday. Luckily the invasion hasn’t spread to the house – at least not to my knowledge. That cat is surely earning his keep. 🙂

  7. Oh, your poor plants! We live near a giant corn field and the rodents try to move into our garage every winter. I keep all of my bird seed and dog food in large plastic containers with snap on lids and it’s helped. At the first sign of trouble, I set out traps with peanut butter and potato chips. Good luck with the exterminator!

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks Laura. I had some bird food in a metal bucket, but I think I’m going to have to get some more buckets for things like fertilizers etc. They had eaten holes in every bag or box possible… little bastards!

  8. rickii says:

    Our experience with an exterminator when we lived in town was that you cannot escape participating in the process. After listening to their ghoulish instructions, we did what Laura suggests: putting all food items in tightly sealed containers and sealing off any openings, however small, into problem areas. Problem solved, no homicidal acts required.

  9. Your cat caught a rat so send him back into the shed to catch more. 🙂 We have little field mice that like to eat my birdseed in the winter so I leave some on the ground for them when it’s extra cold. But I don’t have a greenhouse of any type and if they come in the house, I set out traps.

    • annamadeit says:

      He hasn’t been as successful these last two days, so I’m calling in the big guns! But I’m very proud of him for getting that first one. Luckily the rats aren’t near our house yet… and perhaps his presence has a role in that. Such a good cat! 🙂

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