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!
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!
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!
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!
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!