A new yard visitor!


I’ve lived here almost 40 years and have never seen a rat till a few days ago.  There are rats in town, I know, cos they’re everywhere but just don’t live around people much.  About 30 years ago there was a grain elevator in town that burned down, and people said rats ran off in all directions. That made sense, cos they were there for the grain.  But I’m outside a lot and I’m sure there’s never been one here before. My friends across the alley own the woods up behind me and they’ve never seen a rat up there either.

I feed the birds and squirrels on the patio and with a feeder every year when it gets cold.  So several days ago I went out and 2 squirrels ran off, and something big ran into the ivy beside the patio.  Wait, what?  What was that?  There are mice live in the ivy; I see them sometimes.  That’s ok; they can live out there as long as they stay out of my basement.  But this was too big for a mouse, and the squirrels don’t run in the ivy to hide, they take off up thru the yard.

Then a face came out of the ivy, a bigger face, nose wiggling and looking around, while I was standing on the porch, 6′ away.  Then he came out and waltzed over to the pile of seeds like he belonged there.  He’d take a seed and run back in the ivy.  He was out there for 2 hours off and on. I went and got  my small live trap and some peanut butter for bait, and put it right where he had been coming out of the ivy.

I won’t use poison, cos if you poison one animal outside, you poison them all: birds, squirrels, chipmunks and even  the neighbor’s cat. I can’t use a spring/kill trap for the same reason.  I wouldn’t normally kill any animal, but I’d kill this to get rid of it if I had a good way to do it without harming anything else.  If I could catch it in the trap, it would go out in the country to live.

I saw him again the next morning, but he ran up thru the yard after he looked around on the patio. On those 2 days, something tripped the live trap 4 times.  Rats are supposed to be smart animals, and I think he knows that’s a trap. In fact think he’s laughing at me: hey, that human thought she was smart and put that trap out here with peanut butter, and a piece of ham the next day, so I’ll set her trap off so she knows I’m smarter than her. I’m too smart to get caught in a trap!

live trap

I haven’t seen him now for 2 days. There are 2 feral cats who hang around sometimes, and this morning one sat beside the herb bed for 10 minutes, just sitting there. I always ran those cats off when I saw them, cos they scare the squirrels, chipmunks and birds.  But there’s the ultimate rat trap and I won’t run them off any more.  Even if one of them doesn’t catch him, they are a good deterrent, I hope.

I keep hoping he was just passing thru. I’ll keep watching.




13 responses to “A new yard visitor!

  1. Good luck on catching that new yard visitor. Maybe MaChatte can give you a hand/paw… Or, I can send Mr. Bowie over!

    • No Herman she doesn’t go out any more; she gets too scared. Maybe he was passing thru…..fingers crossed. I’d love to get to see Mr. Bowie, but not for this, cos they can have diseases and fleas, and oh dear, he just needs to go away!

  2. Rats are a serious problem in mild climates. Although citrus trees are popular in Southern California, those in densely landscaped urban areas must be protected from rats. The trunks get wrapped in smooth sheet metal or plastic so that rats cannot climb them. Otherwise, lemons are already peeled by the time they ripen. Oranges and mandarin oranges can get hollowed out. Beverly Hills (in Los Angeles County) has some of the worst rats in America outside of Hawaii and Florida. The landscapes in that part of the Los Angels region are lush and well irrigated.

    • I know there are rats here, in our small town and out in the country around here. Farmers fight them in their barns and grain storage areas. But out back, here, ohhh! I never knew about how much damage they would cause to citrus, etc.

      • Oh yes, they love lemon peel.
        While working for arborists, we sometimes cut down mature Canary Island palms. When such a tree hits the ground, all the frisbees, baseballs, kites, and whatever the tree had been eating for the previous few years gets flung out onto the ground in a big cappuccinos splat of abundant fronds. Just as the baseballs stop rolling, a huge herd of rats scatters in every direction. Those that didn’t make it are found as the debris gets dismantled and chipped.

      • I’ve never had any reason to think about rats much, as you do where they’re all around and cause such problems. They aren’t part of every day life here unless you live on a farm or work somewhere where grain is. Interesting. One of the best things about blogging is the interaction with others and seeing into their worlds. 😊

  3. What a coincidence! 10 years, 5 apartments in US and this year was the first time I spotted a mouse “inside” the house. This is also my first first floor apartment. The property managers laid out some sticky traps, but that was no help. ‘Smart’ is the word.
    But I have shared rooms and houses with rats and mice as a child growing up in India 🙂
    My parents tried all measures, but more kept coming. They were noisy, nocturnal, annoying roommates, but my sister and I got along with them okay (read: did not jump and run around the house at the sight of one in the room), as long as they were not having our books, clothes or stuffed toys for dinner.
    Good luck! Hope those cats did their job 🙂 or at least hope you can keep it out of the house, especially this time of the year when rodents and insects find ways to get into the house to escape the cold.
    P.S. I heard this podcast yesterday about cat and mouse which I found really funny, here is the link (42:00 to 50:00)

    • I’m afraid he’s packing the seeds away, laying up his winter pantry. I’m going to a garden center tomorrow to see if I can find a non-poisonous repellent, to make his home (holes) uninhabitable. He was back this morning. 🤬 Your stories about living with them are scary to me, cos it’s not an animal we have around us here. Warmer climates are the places they flourish, and we get very cold winters here. Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. I haven’t seen a rat here, or any evidence of any, here on the farm. When i first moved back here there was a terrible mouse problem in the chicken house, even though there were 20 cats. I did get rid of the mice and haven’t seed hardly any for the past four years. You have only seen one rat so far and I hope it doesn’t invite others (or is a female that may have babies). Hopefully you will catch it soon and give it a new home.

    • I keep trying! But I do think he’s too smart to get in the trap. I’ve gotten a non-poisonous repellent to try; fox urine smell made for hunters, to cover the human smell. At this point, I’ll try almost anything.

      • Is your trap specifically for rats? You do realize that rats can squeeze through very small holes and could be squeezing through your trap? I guess it depends on the size of the rat, too.

      • It’s a small animal trap. He’s a big bruiser and the holes are way too small for him to get thru. I’ve caught 2 squirrels so far, and they are very upset when they’re in there, make some real unusual noises and run really fast when I set them free. I’ll keep setting the trap in case the rate blunders in. I’ve used peanut butter, ham, and tried cheese, but didn’t see him yet today.

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