I think I mentioned in a previous blog of my war on the rats that have gained access to both the house and the roof area. The traps that I set in the roof have met with limited success and have killed a couple of big rats and there has not been any activity that I can hear of the rats still up there. Of course, it is bloody hot up there so probably any smart rats would find a cooler environment.
However, work on the living area of the house has also resulted in a few kills but recently, nothing to talk of although I have suspected that at least one rat still has a hiding place that so far neither I or the dogs have been able to locate.
Further proof of that came a couple of days ago when Pete, the Chihuahua was intently looking at something on the floor. I have seen him do this with large bugs and even a bit of fluff it it happens to blow around so I went over to investigate in what was so interesting. I should mention that it was around one o’clock in the afternoon just to put things in focus so several hours had passed since we crawled out of bed. Much to my surprise, what Pete was looking at started to wiggle and I could see that it was a baby rat. It was a tiny little thing and I started looking around and on the hearth, found another one of them still very much alive. They were both quite active as I watched them trying to think of what I should do. It was a bit of a quandary as on the one hand, I was trying desperately hard to kill the mother and any other full grown rats and here in front of me was one of the miracles of Nature, two baby rats. They were so small and so vulnerable that I just couldn’t bring myself to finish them off. I grabbed a small syringe and tried to feed them some milk but their mouths were no bigger than a pinhead and I could tell that it wasn’t doing much good and besides, it was covering them in milk. I was afraid that my human smell would cause the Mother to reject them if she came back.
Meanwhile, Pete was not finished and had located three more of the little guys. I collected them and added them to the original pair and then took a careful look around to see if there were any more. I went on Google to find out a little bit about Rats and learned that they could have as many as twelve babies which got me looking even harder. I was not able to locate anymore but that doesn’t mean the the Momma might not have had more somewhere else. I would have thought that she would have been a bit better prepared and if she is so well hidden from me, had them wherever her hiding place is..
That still left me in a difficult position. I could not find it in my heart to kill them just as I don’t think I could kill an adult rat if it faced up to me. Sure, I do it the cowardly way by setting traps although in my defence, I usually set a catch and release trap as well and when I have caught the rats in that trap, have driven to where the open fields are with no houses around and released them.
So, I came up with a plan. I placed the babies on a paper towel in the middle of a folding fence so the dogs would not get to them and left them there overnight hoping that the Momma rat would carry them off. Morning came and there were the rats just as i had left them but scattered around a bit as their wiggles caused them to separate. All five were still alive but the paper towel was gone and I still have not located it two days later. I hope Momma Rat has not built a nest with it if she has other babies. Incidentally, I placed traps of both kinds along with food inside the folding fence overnight but the Momma Rat ignored them all. She may have fed the babies for all I know.
On Day 2, the babies spent the entire day in the same spot only showing any type of movement when they wiggled around. By the evening, I could tell they were getting weaker but I left everything as before overnight. In the morning, there were only four of them left on the floor and they were all dead. I located the fifth one back up on the hearth where the Momma must have moved it but it too had died. I collected them up glad that this little episode was over and at the same time a little sad over their deaths. I still felt a bit of a quandary with my desire to rid the house of the adult rats and at the same time, be faced with these babies. I am also very surprised that the Momma Rat was not better prepared to have her babies in some sort of “safer” place instead of having them on the fireplace hearth out in the open. They were tough little buggers as they lasted at least forty eight hours on their own out in the open with the AC going full blast.
Now to get back to the serious business of ridding the house of the adult rats. On second thoughts, maybe I should not try too hard as Momma may have babies stashed away somewhere and if I catch her then I will be faced with the problem of dead rat smell. On the other hand, grown babies mean more trouble for me. What a quandry….