My wife does not fool around. She spots something that needs doing, takes a deep breath, and gets on Google. Lots of folks here in town offer advice, but she knows there are experts out there in the Googleverse poised to deliver the precise information she needs to get the job done right.
For example, we had rats in the attic.
Unacceptable to be sure, but hardly a topic I wanted to discuss at length. My hope was that they would tire of scooting through the rafters, eating insulation and wiring, and head back out in search of more appropriate rat chow. You know, take care of this on their own, without our having to jump in with corrective measures.
Live and let live, that’s my motto, especially when it comes to climbing into a dark space inhabited by rats of some size, and I knew they were sizable rats because even a novice student of rodent behavior knows the difference between skittering (mice) and thumping (rats of some size).
Here’s the thing — once you know you have rats in the attic, you pretty much can’t un-know that rats of some size are up there doing profoundly rattish things under cover of darkness. The thumping was intermittent, then constant, then accompanied by a sort of sloshing, leaving no doubt that uninhibited predation was taking place up there. For all we knew, rats were stacking corpses like fire wood, and once the aroma of decomposing whatever-it-was up there seeped into the walls, it would be tougher to eliminate than the predators themselves.
Next stop, obviously, Google.
Try it. Type in “rat extermination,” skip past the many outfits and enterprises happy to bring in extermination experts, and continue until you see Ratcontroltricks.com, where Jeff R. Morrison provides more information about do-it-yourself ratting than you might have thought possible.
“Social media,” he advises, “is one of the easiest ways for us to keep you updated with the latest news in the rodent control world!”
I can’t begin to describe the many fast-breaking stories emerging from the rodent control world, but I will pass on an observation that struck me as humane. Rodent controllers use a curious phrase to describe the rat’s sensory sensibilities; apparently, the rat is directed by what they term “essential oils,” by which I take it they mean those elements in the rat’s world that are appropriate and comforting to the rat. These essential oils are all over the ratscape, and the intrusion of foreign … oils … as introduced when plopping down the waiting jaws of the rat trap, give notice to the rat that he would be well served to stay away from the unfamiliar aroma and device.
Confounded, when all else fails, the do-it-yourself rat battler can slap that bad boy in the whiskers with an assault upon the essential oils themselves. Dipping rags in ammonia, draping the rags throughout the rat kingdom, renewing the ammonia bath for several days seems to so offend even the sulkiest of rodents that they pack up their belongings and hit the road.
Mission accomplished. Maybe. We hope.
But now, the time has come to search for ammonia-stench-dot-com in the hope of allowing our own essential oils to resume their rightful place in the home we choose to not share with sloshing, fat rodents. I’m actually not anxious to get into social-media conversations about odor, so if anyone has advice to offer, please feel free to jump right in.
Peter Arango lives in Medford.