Apparently…I’ve become a rodent whisperer!
It’s not by choice, oh not at all! But, choice or no, it seems it’s what I’ve become.
Either that, or, whenever I roll into a place to stay for awhile, the wily critters get the idea that I’ve just procured a gleaming, post-modernist condo for them, complete with water and waste facilities (i.e. my kitchen cabinets!) and, the finest of rodent dining experiences…all gratis, of course!
Last fall, at Casa de Fruta,the site of The Northern California Renaissance Faire, it was a rat…a large, sleek, dark brown rat with the biggest, blackest, most soulful eyes. I know this because he showed himself, one night while I was watching TV . Came out of the cabinet and looked at me. Maybe he was judging my movie choices, or maybe he was upset at me for disturbing his early evening nap (turn about fair play, I say!)or maybe he just didn’t realize that I was home. Doesn’t matter. The fact is, I SAW him, and he was big! And he looked right at me.
Now, I have to say, I don’t actually hate rats. I used to have pet rats, as a matter of fact, when my son was a boy. I found them to be smart and sweet and social…well, some of them were smart and sweet and social, and some of them were assholes, kinda like people! This guy looked sweet, with those big ol’ eyes, but, rats bite, you know, so I didn’t get too close. What I did do, however, was change the poison…yes, poison! I know, I’m mean, and I’m horrible, but the “deterrents” I bought didn’t do crap, and this big ol’ guy was busy remodeling my trailer every night from midnight to 6am. He was a busy little beaver…okay, a rat, a busy little rat! He worked and worked and moved as much insulation as he could from the walls to the drawers, and underneath the kitchen cabinets. And he stole things, weird things, things you wouldn’t think a rat would want, like yellow tailors marking crayons (they just KEPT disappearing, and everytime I needed to cut some fabric I had to scrounge for something to mark with. I muttered at myself a lot during this time period, before I knew the rat was a thief:”when ya gonna learn to put things back where they belong, Darla dear?” and “I KNOW I left the crayon on the table last night, but it’s just not there now, dammit!”) He also stole my dogs medicated eyedrops, don’t ask me why, but he did!
So, I changed the poison. Prior to seeing him, I thought he was a mouse, his droppings were too small to be a rat, or so it seemed. Not so. It was indeed a rat. (No wonder the trailer was starting to smell. Uck!) Did you know that mouse poison doesn’t work on rats? No? Neither did I, but it doesn’t. Probably gives them a tummy ache, but doesn’t do them in. Says so right on the box.
Nor, apparently, does it stop their nocturnal remodeling.
I got to work on getting rid of ol’ brown eyes. I cleaned all the cabinets, pulled out the drawers, emptied the droppings and disinfected! (again, rat droppings, ewww!) I also found the nest he was making in one of the kitchen drawers, and I threw away the fall leaves, the bits of insulation, and foodstuffs he used in this elaborate bit of bachelor-pad decoration. (Hell, he probably had a rat sized mp3 player somewhere to play Esquivel when he entertained “The Ladies”!)
Found five yellow tailors crayons too! It was like Christmas morning!
I used a whole box of poison on this guy, spreading around the little blue cubes, one in each drawer, one under the sink, one in each cabinet. I was attempting to blitzkrieg this enemy rodent.
It didn’t work!
Oh, he ate the poison, alright, a bite or two, or a gnaw or three out of several of the cubes. Then he gathered them all up and stored them for safekeeping in the drawer he had designated for his nest. Covered them up with newly stolen insulation.
What he didn’t do was die!
Oh woe is me!
By this time, you must understand, I had been without a good nights sleep for a week or more. I was a mess! I couldn’t think, I was useless at work, I wanted to bite the heads off small poodles…or rats, that would do, of course. I needed some sleep!
Also, because I LIVE in my Airstream, and planned on being in Reno in January, I needed the insulation to stay where it was!
So I got a rat trap. I would’ve loved to get a catch and release trap, but, the ones they make aren’t really for rats, and they’re hella expensive. Didn’t want to get a glue trap, because they remind me of the last scene in “Mad Max” where Max has the bad guy handcuff himself to a truck that has gasoline spilling towards an open flame. He gives him a hacksaw and says .
“The chain in those handcuffs is high tensile steel. It’d take you ten minutes to hack through it with this. Now, if you’re lucky, you could hack through your’ ankle in five minutes. Go.”
I just couldn’t do that to the poor little fella.
So, I chose a snap-trap that guaranteed to kill immediately. It didn’t work either.
Oh, it snapped, alright, and it did indeed trap the rat…by his face! Not the quick and painless death I had hoped for. As a matter of fact, he was still alive when I found him, and I was left to dispatch him to the rat afterlife. Trust me, I felt awful! Truly awful! I’m mean and horrible, and I kept having to remind myself that rats are vermin, after all, and spread disease, and filth, and have peculiar ideas as to how to remodel a classic Airstream…but I still felt like a monster!
I closed all the holes I could find, and thought I had solved the rodent incursion problem until the following March. This time it was just a mouse, or mice… the remodeling wasn’t as bad, more rearranging, actually (all the egg noddles in the upper kitchen cabinet were thoughtfully relocated to the drawers where I keep my sewing machine accessories!)And they were quieter in their work, so I didn’t miss too much sleep. (earplugs helped) This time the poison worked and they were gone in two days. Whew!
At present the problem is a chipmunk! What a cute little girl she is! I’m not sure that chipmunks are actually rodents…maybe they’re marsupials…or maybe they’re something else entirely. I don’t know. I’ll have to Google it. I just know that this one LOVES Rachel Ray dog food! Loves it far more than my dog does. And I can’t get her out of my trailer. She came in one warm day to steal a bit of dog food and run out the door before she could got caught. She wasn’t as shrewd as she thought she was though, so I did catch her. Constantly! I’d be working on something, or on the computer, and I’d hear rustling in the dog bowl. I’d look over, she’d see me, and out she’d run. We played this game for hours. I’m sure she thought it was fun. Unfortunately, at some point in our game, I had to leave, and when I came back in, I caught her inside, while simultaneously blocking her escape route, so she hightailed it to the back of the trailer (Oh! Now I get what that expression means! HIGHtailed it! Yep, it certainly was! High. The tail that is!)
Well, she’s been in the trailer ever since. Or maybe she’s found one of the entry points that I thought I’d blocked and she’s coming and going. I dunno. I do know however that she’s in here day and night, stealing dog food, (or attempting to steal dog food, as I’ve now placed it out of reach) and hiding it in the drawer on the overlock machine. (just imagine my surprise when I reached in to get the tweezers to re-thread the darned thing and found the drawer full of kibble. Awesome, really awesome! Kibble is messy!)
I have to stop and admit that it’s not just rodents that love me. Raccoons also have a thing for me. After all, my house in Pollock Pines was on the National Raccoon Tour of Gourmet Dining Experiences (N.R.T.G.D.E. For short) They just LOVED to come by my place and see what the special was. They brought the whole family. Or a date!
Now, I have to say, I DO actually hate raccoons! Yeah, I know, they’re cute, and they’re smart, and they’ve got those adorable little masks and their darling little hands with those long fingers, gorgeous nails and opposable thumbs. But they’re mean! And tenacious! And too smart for their own damned good! And they truly believe “Tu Casa es MI Casa!” Once they’ve discovered food at your’ place, your’ house is theirs!
I would go away for a faire weekend and I’d leave a big bowl of food for the cats, and a huge bowl of water. I would arrive back home on Monday to my cats screaming at me that they were STARVING!!! (Starving? Really? Go catch a rodent. It’s your job!) The food bowl would be empty, and, if there was a bag of cat food around, it would be torn to shreds, and also empty….the water bowl? Don’t you mean the MUD bowl? Because, you see, raccoons just HAVE to wash up before they eat, and they have to wash their food too, you know, because they’re such fastidious creatures!
Fastidious my ass!!!
Oh sure, maybe they’re particular about their personal grooming, but they leave the house a big MESS!
I swear to god, raccoons are the metro-sexuals of the animal kingdom!
And they don’t just stay in the kitchen. They check out your’ house, open your’ drawers, look in your’ medicine cabinet…at one point they looked all around my laundry room, knocked over a jar of dye, and left just the-most-adorable cobalt blue raccoon paw prints all over the laundry room floor! See, they like to redecorate as much as the rats do!
My dog and I had quite a fun game with the furry bandits too. We’d be sitting in the darkened living room on Monday nights after our return, watching TV, playing on the computer, all around relaxing. Out of the corner of my eye I’d see a raccoon walk up on the deck, heading towards the kitchen. I’d put my finger to my lip, in the International sign for “shush!” and my dog and I would sneak silently to the kitchen door. We’d wait there in the dark, poised and ready, till we heard the varmint in the kitchen. Then I’d flip on the light and we’d run in screaming and barking like banshees, like Highland Warriors, like blue painted Picts on an ancient battle field. We did whatever we could to scare the living hell our of our dear visitors. I even kept a Supersoaker filled with ammonia and cayenne pepper next to the kitchen door to shoot the little fuc darlings with.
Yep, it was a fun game!
But it didn’t do any good. Sure, I thought I’d achieved victory a few times, but, in a day or so, or a week or two, they’d be back. I only got rid of the raccoons because I moved!
So, here I am in Big Bear. I haven’t seen any raccoons, nor any rats, thank the goddess, though a bear did walk through camp on Sunday (it ignored the people outside, but when I called from my Airstream “Hello Gorgeous!” it freaked out and took off running…apparently I’m NOT a bear whisperer!)
I do, however, still have a chipmunk in my rolling home!
When I arrived home after errands yesterday, our’ little girl was stuck trying to travel through one of the kitchen drawers, with her tail and back legs sticking out, feet flailing furiously. “Perfect!” I thought, as I went in search of a towel to catch her in so’s I could put her out the door. But I couldn’t get her, she wouldn’t budge, one foot of hers was wedged tight in the metal groove between the cabinet and the stove. I took a spoon and bent the groove ever so slightly outward, freeing her foot…and also freeing her. Great! Off she scurried back into the inner recesses of the Airstream, back to the between!
I’ve often joked that I wished my Airstream was really a Tardis, i.e. bigger on the inside than on the outside, and I’ve discovered that it is! But only if you’re a rodent. Or a marsupial. Or whatever a freaking chipmunk is. There are amazing places to hide if you’re only eight inches long…I really should contact Airstream and find out if they’ve come up for any after market fixes for the rather Sci-Fi-like inner dimensions of my Land Yacht for the rodent denizens of this world. Or at least find out if they know how I can keep the critters out…
Well, it’s now the next day, and the little girl is gone. I’m so glad. I didn’t want to resort to doing bad things to her, like I did with the rat and the mice. I’m glad she left on her own!
There are two things I’ve discovered about our furry friends—they are indeed rodents (LOVE me that internet!)and, they like shiny things! I know this because, before she left, our darling girl stole one of my garnet earrings!
* Sigh * Now she’ll be better dressed than I am!