Living with a Ratter


The change in the weather is the time to handle the rat situation. How does one know she has rats under her house? Just ask any terrier who might happen to live with you.

Terriers were bred to find and kill rodents. Daisy is Jack Russell terrier. I didn’t know how bad my rat problem was until she came along.

First, they were under the shed that I so stupidly crammed into the corner of my back yard. The gardener built a wooden platform for it, and the rats burrowed their way underneath to stay dry all winter long. Then Daisy joined the family and alerted me to the rats. She spent a lot of time barking at the base to the shed, usually at midnight.  She caught and killed two of them, but there were many, many more.

The county vector control guy came out for free and saw the situation. He was there for giving advice only, not to do any work.

“Why you don’t have her handle it?” he said, pointing to Daisy.

But one side of the shed was right up against the fence, so close that Daisy couldn’t squeeze behind it.

The rat guy charges $600 for a two-year rat-free guarantee. To move the fence would cost about the same. In the end, I moved the fence so Daisy could get behind the shed.

“And pour concrete around the base of the shed,” the vector control guy said.

My handy woman mixed up a batch of cement in my wheelbarrow on four Mondays in a row, each week doing another side of the shed. On week 4, we could hear squeaky rat babies under there.

“This will kill them,” Kelly said.

“I know,” I said.” Go ahead and pour it.”

Normally, I don’t like to hurt any creature. But there’s something about vermin with long ugly tails.

The rats seemed to be under control for a couple of years. Then Daisy started whining at the wall of the office, the front facing the street. I investigated the outer wall. Dry rot. I called a contractor.

Then last week she whined at the floor in the kitchen at the other end of the house. I called the $600-rat guy and got on his schedule.

Today I worked at the foundation, pouring dry cement into the huge cracks between the foundation and the adjacent 45-year-old patio. When I got to the corner of the new back porch and the kitchen wall, I found a big pile of wet leaves. Under that was a loose piece of concrete. Under that was a huge hole going under my house.

Eureka!  I could cancel the rat guy since I found how they were getting in. But no. He will set traps in the crawl space and will come back and take away any dead ones he catches, for as long as it takes. I don’t want to do any of that.

There must be a lot of rats in my town. The rat guy lives in the next town up the freeway, where houses sell in the millions.

Not everybody will deal with rats and crawl spaces. But if you do, you will be rewarded, whether you are the rat guy from Alamo or a rat terrier named Daisy.

Couldda Wouldda Didda

Daisy’s current kill record is 4 rats, and sadly, one squirrel.

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