You Dirty Rat

“You dirty rat..." James Cagney said it first in a movie but it's my life motto.

I hate very few things on this planet. It's just not in me, but when the subject of rats comes up... I grow fangs and begin to think ugly thoughts. I like spiders and snakes. I like lizards. I like bees. I tolerate house flies and other flying things. I even like bats. I hate rats.

Unless it's a pet, most of us do not like to admit that they have seen, touched or been around a rat in or our around our homes or workplace. Truth is, statistically, you are never more than a few feet away from some sort of rodent during your lifetime. That's why I've chosen an alternative method for my remains. This only means that I don't like these buggers and want to limit their opportunities to visit me. Dead or alive.

I keep a clean house and like most of you I've always held that up like a shining sword every time the subject of rats came up. Seems like we equate rats with dirt. Yes, they are dirty, or at least we think so. In their chosen environment they actually clean themselves. Do I care? No. I've never met a clean rat...except that day at the Tillamook County Fair when I said how sweet a 4-H student's rat was. This is the reason white lies were invented. Oh, and yes...the rat was clean and I held it. I petted it, too.

These hairy critters and their pals live under, around and in most structures. If you build it... they will come. It doesn't matter how clean you keep your surroundings. They are creepy and crawly and several other adjectives which would be deleted by any editor. They are known to spread disease and have been doing so since the beginning of time. I never understood why there wasn't a rat in the pictures of Adam and Eve. And while we're on the subject... What was Noah thinking?

Rats are smart and resourceful. There is a reason they have been, and are, used in most scientific laboratory and behavioral experiments. They come way too close to humans in the ways they react to many things. Whether it be environmental, chemical, psychological or genetic, those dirty rats have made a huge difference in the quality of life and the health of not only humans, but several other species as well. We owe them a debt of gratitude until they come to our house in something other than the hands of a 4-H member.

OK, that's enough good stuff. I just want you to know that I do have a heart and I already am aware that several of you are already composing a letter to Geezer Tribe for championing the use of rats in laboratories. For the record, I'm not an advocate... I'm a realist.

Mr. S raised the lid of one of our compost containers the other day and looked into the face of a rat. Somehow, some way, this critter had outdone modern technology and found a way into a rat-proof composter. Brilliant. We paid extra for this one. Mr. S vows that this will never happen again. He's fighting back and the rats will regret this decision.

While Beavis the Weather Cat made a dent in our population of rodents, following her death a few years back, we have been overrun in our yard and gardens by rats, moles, voles and mice. They haven't breached the gate to the inside of the house yet and it's a good thing. If this happens, there will be all-out war and it won't be pretty.

These small animals do big damage to insulation and with their friends have destroyed our drainage system by creating something akin to the Los Angeles freeways under our yard and house. This is expensive to fix and frustrating as you watch beautiful plants die because their roots have been eaten for lunch by a rodent.

Since the composter incident, the battle against evil has escalated. We've said good-bye to three dirty rats this week. Mr. S is on a roll. He's become my hero and a mythic rat trapper. Grover is his official assistant and a worthy tracker. Their team efforts are something to behold. Me? I'm not ready to visit the composter alone yet. I'll ask the big guy to do that for me while I watch from the sidelines. Rat haters hate to actually see rats. :)

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