Thursday, September 19, 2013

Rats II

You know how, at the end of every horror movie, the protagonists finally succeed in slaying the monster that's been menacing their little community, and they can at last bury their dead and go back to their normal lives?

And you know how, at the beginning of every horror movie sequel, they discover that, guess what, that monster wasn't the only one?

Well, that's pretty much where we found ourselves last weekend. We were just hanging out in the living room, chatting with a friend, when Brian suddenly peered out the window and said, "Yep, that's another rat." This one wasn't in the garden, but foraging among our shrubs, and like the first, it fled as soon as it caught sight of us. But Brian quickly discovered evidence that this rodent, too, had found its way into the garden and gnawed one of our cucumbers.

So once again, he fetched out trap (the old-fashioned snap trap, not the fancy newfangled trap that turned out to be completely ineffective), baited it, and set it up under a chicken-wire cage. Since we'd last seen the rat in the shrubs, he set up this apparatus out there, and this time he weighed down the cage with a brick marked "WARNING: DANGEROUS: do not tamper," just in case one of our neighbor's kids caught sight of it and decided to investigate. And there it sat, entirely undisturbed, for the next four days. After a few days, we actually started to hope that maybe this rat was wiser than its colleague and had decided to get out of this place while the getting was good.

Alas, our hopes were dashed today when Brian came home early for an afternoon appointment and made three discoveries in short order:
  1. The trap had been sprung, yet this time, the cage atop it (and the brick atop that) hadn't been disturbed.
  2. Once again, the rat was not in the trap, but lying a short distance away, outside the cage.
  3. This time, the rat was still alive.
This set of circumstances was even more baffling and frustrating than the discovery of the first rat. In the first place, the cage and the brick were still in place, so how had the rat managed to trip the trap and still escape? Brian could only surmise that it had been caught only partially and had somehow managed to pull itself free, but it was too weak to get very far away before we found it. This was quite upsetting to me, since I thought the main benefit of these traps was that they were supposed to dispatch critters as quickly and painlessly as possible. I'm prepared to kill a rat if that's the only way to keep it out of our garden, but I certainly didn't want to torture one.

Unfortunately, we both had to leave at this point, so we didn't have time to dispatch the poor beastie then and there. By the time we got back, the rat was no longer where we'd found it, so Brian had to go hunting through the underbrush until he found it huddled unmoving by a tree. And it wasn't clear whether it was quite dead at this point, so he had to clobber it with a shovel before he could bury it. All in all, it was a bit traumatic. It's left me wondering whether, should we ever have to deal with another rat, we might not be better off with the fancy new Tomcat trap after all. True, it might not actually succeed in catching the rat, but at least it would be clear at a glance whether the rat was killed or not killed; there would be no danger of finding it somewhere in between.
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