Every morning for the past three weeks I’ve woken up to find Steve’s handiwork. Steve is a Norway rat(Rattus norvegicus), who got our attention a few weeks ago when he chewed through the rubber weather strip that lined the bottom of our front door. My husband and I thought he’d gotten in my accident and had chewed his way back out.
We were wrong. He’d hidden inside somewhere during the day, then came out at night, mostly to drink water from the dog’s water dish, poop on the mantle and chew on the plastic tag of an electrical cord. For a few days we were hopeful that he was just passing through.
Our hope was dashed when I discovered his first major offense. I was incubating some Bobwhite quail eggs, and needed to remove the automatic rotator and set them on the bottom of the incubator for their final three days. As I was removing them, I noticed that one felt extremely light, too light. I turned it over to find careful, little bite marks. Steve had sucked it dry! He’d eaten one of my babies!! I was livid, so I set up two traps: a Havaheart trap, and an electric device. I hated the idea of zapping the little guy, even though I was mad, so I chose to think of the electric trap as a “time machine,” that would quickly transport his soul to another time and place.
Steve ignored both traps for two weeks, even though I put some tasty treats inside, including infertile Button quail eggs and peanut butter. He didn’t care. I put the traps in various locations: on the mantle; on the floor, near the baseboards; in the fireplace, wherever we found his poop, etc. Nope, no go.
Being nocturnal, Steve was busy at night, and I never knew what I was going to find when I came out each morning to feed the dogs. One morning I found a pile of shredded paper on my bookshelf. He’d destroyed a journal. The next night he gnawed on a thick, plastic container in the bathroom, leaving a pile of fine, plastic shavings. What a goofball. We also noticed that a cloth table napkin and tube of chapstick had disappeared entirely from the kitchen table. Suspicious…
Once my quails hatched, I feared Steve was going to get into the brooder, which is an aquarium with a heater, so I put a screen on top and secured it with a heavy book, the Merriam–Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary. A few days ago, I came out in the morning, and quickly checked the brooder. The hatchlings were safe, untouched. I checked the bookshelf, mantle and bathroom, but everything was tickety boo. Had he taken the night off? Was he gone? But an hour later, as I was getting ready to leave the house, I noticed shreds of plastic on the cooking table near the stove, where my husband keeps some vegetables. Looking closer I saw little chunks of food, which were tiny bites of potato. Then I saw huge hole chewed in an avocado, and some little holes in each of the tomatoes. My husband was peeved now because Steve was stealing his food. He’d gone too far. I wanted to call the exterminator or get poison, but Don had a different idea.
“Let’s bait the traps with avocado tonight. I’ve read that they love avocados.” Sounded good to me. So, I set the traps with avocado, and the next morning at 4am I woke up to an unfamiliar beeping sound. I jumped out of bed and ran to the kitchen. The “time machine” was flashing and beeping. I turned on the kitchen light and carefully peeked into the device. There was Steve, looking very peaceful. His soul and spirit had move on to another time and place.
Now we’re keeping an eye out for Steve’s relatives. Did they follow him in? Will they be looking for him? Perhaps they’d enjoy a trip in the “time machine?” Hopefully they’re outside, living in the the Natal Plum, or Num Num bushes, where they belong.