Tag Archives: rats

Uriah killed That Rat!~ One down…

Hello, everyone!  This has been a very long, tiring month. With Michael unable to drive, I have been doing all the driving. Normally that wouldn’t be an issue, but I have a back injury that makes it hard for me to sit, stand, and walk for even short periods of time.  Before, we were taking turns driving, now it’s all me. With multiple doctor appointments for all of us, including our teenager who will start ninth grade August 16th, I am having trouble even checking my emails. 

Now on to other happenings..

Yesterday Uriah killed, ‘That Rat’!

Where’d he go!

We were standing next to the garden. I was complaining about all the tomatoes that have been eaten in the past week. Thirteen! Thirteen big beautiful tomatoes!

I can’t say for sure it was a rat that ate the tomatoes, it could have been the skunk, a family lives near the barn. Or the opossum, one tried to take up residence in the dog house. Maybe raccoons!  There are plenty of those around. Even coyotes love tomatoes. Do foxes eat tomatoes?

What they looked like, then they were gone!

Anyway, Uriah turned away from me and started nosing around a square drainage tube that was lying at the top end of the garden. Ground squirrels like to hide there. I raised the tube to slide out the animal, and it held on inside tight. I rolled it over, and over until it was pointed at the Bog Willows and the rodent slid out.  A very fat, cute reddish rat ran a zigzagged pattern towards the trees.

Uriah looked up at me, surprised.

“Hey, you go catch that rat!” Ooops! I used the wrong word. Rat sounds like cat, Uriah isn’t supposed to chase a cat, and so he sat and watched it run. I pointed at the rat and yelled.  “Mouse! Get that mouse!”

 Uriah hesitated, then started chasing it through the grass. 

Yes, it squeaked, so do Ground Squirrels and Chipmunks. I almost called Uriah off. Almost..

The chase lasted only a minute or two, with Uriah tossing it into the air, then turning in circles and a giant leap, then silence.  Uriah waited. I praised him and gave him a pork rawhide bone. He happily trotted off, while I moved the body to the burn pile, fully intending to burn the tree branches and that rat, tomorrow. 

We were due at the doctors in an hour and I won’t light a fire if I’m not around. So that was the plan, tomorrow light the fire…

It rained all night. The trees are flooded.  The water line is inching towards the house and overflowing the burn pile. I need another plan…

 Link on Chipmunks and Ground Squirrels:

http://web.extension.illinois.edu/wildlife/directory_show.cfm?species=groundsquirrel

My Rat Is A Cross Dressing Opossum~ Or, Can I Get A Gun To Match My Shoes!~

This weekend was beautiful one of those perfect, mid-western spring days. The skies were baby blue with nary a cloud to be seen. The birds were singing. The winds were just a gentle breeze, and the trees were all budding lime green with a sprinkling of leaves waving as I passed by. The air held a slight chill so I had to wear my orange coat unzipped, I never broke a sweat.

Uriah ran up to me panting. He had his worried face on. His eyes bulging out as he tried to walk as close to me as possible, without actually jumping into my arms.

“Come on Uriah!  What’s wrong with you?” I patted him on his head and he paced then leaned into me.

I stood up and looked around not yet getting what the problem was. Then I heard it. The call of the, Warm-Weathered-Mid-Western-Gun-Owner and  my main reason for wearing a bright orange stylish coat all-year-round.  Avoidance of bullets! Add in the fact that I could be seen from miles off. Unless they think that deer, coyote and raccoons shop at Fleet and Farm, I should be safe.

The sound of a gun being fired caught my attention, along with the immediate high pitch ‘Peeeyuuu!” sound traveling behind it.  The bullet must have ricocheted off something then headed in my direction.

Sort of ruined that safe feeling of wearing my orange coat!

I continued on with Uriah around the back path, enjoying the warmer spring air, just a little more leery.

Yesterday when we took the same walk I saw one of my neighbors, standing in the farmer’s air field, at the back of the path. He and his two young boys were digging a hole. When I came close we exchanged pleasantries. Then he explained the farmer gave him permission to shoot the chipmunks. He then told me that the coyotes hunt the chipmunks and dig holes making it unsafe for the farmer to land his planes. Okay..

 Then he added. “You shouldn’t be walking around without a gun!” He nodded looking around.   “There are Cougars in Illinois that sleep in the trees! Just like in California and they will jump out at you. Or grab little kids, like my boys here,” He pointed to his sons and mimicked biting at the kids, “and then they’ll drag ‘em off” He hesitated for effect then added. “And there are Wolves here now. I know a hunter who saw their tracks just on the other side of town.” Hand on hips, he gave me a few seconds for that to sink in then he continued.  “And a Wolf pack will hunt you down if you’re walking alone!”  He pointed to the gun slung over his boys shoulder. “That’s why you should never walk around here without a gun.”

 I responded back.  “Wolves eat rodents! Rats, mice, rabbits, chipmunks… not people!’

“They will if they get hungry enough!”

There are certain points during conversations where I think of Lucy and Charlie Brown, the Peanuts Cartoon characters. This was one of those times.

 

Lucy had told Charlie Brown, the reason a Palm tree is called a Palm tree is because you can get your entire palm around it. Charlie Brown reacts by clutching his stomach in pain.

 

I know how he felt…

To be truthful he had me a little nervous. I remembered how Uriah was frightened a couple of times at night, and I mentioned that. (see  link #3 below)

“Yeah!  Probably a Cougar!”  This guy is good. He will nod yes, when he wants you to say yes. And shake his head adamantly when he wants the negative reaction. Right now he was nodding and looping his thumbs in his belt loops. ”Yeah! Cougars!”

Okay I have to stop here. I tried to call the county to ask them about this. But no one called me back.  Gee! I wonder why…

A couple of Cougars were sited a year or two ago and they were shot. Illinois doesn’t have cougars on the endangered species list because they are so few. Cougars were exterminated in Illinois before 1870.

As for Wolves, according to ‘Defenders of Wildlife’ site (see link #1 below) Wolves; “were killed in most areas of the United States by the mid 1930s”

The difference being, Wolves are on the endangered species list.  (See the link #2, below)

Back to my walk: Uriah was bored he wanted to keep walking he didn’t want to stand around and talk. He kept glancing at the guns, then looking away.

I had to ask this question.” How do you know that a coyote was digging those holes? Could’ve have been anything!”

He answered with a wave of his hand. “Well there are coyote tracks all over the dirt. They are really good diggers.”

“I was just wondering, because we have a lot of holes made by Muskrats.” I pointed behind me, about fifty feet away there was a visible mound of rocks.

“Muskrats? Huh!”  

After that answer I was wondering if he knew what a Muskrat was.

“We also have a couple of irritating rats near the outside kennel that dig a lot!”

“Rats! You sure it’s not a opossum?” He gave me that I don’t believe you look.

“No! It’s a rat. A nice fat county Rat!” I held my hands about half a foot apart.

“Could be a raccoon.” He mumbled.

“Coon! No it’s a rat!”

 He kept shaking his head, as if I would change my mind and agree it was something else.

“It’s a rat! I have a picture of it. Unless it was a opossum, and it dressed up like a rat!”

Luckily his phone rang and his wife summoned him to dinner.  Or he was bringing it with him. I don’t know!  I didn’t look at what happened to the chipmunks they had shot.

When I got back in the house, I told Michael we needed a gun to fend off Cougars and Wolves. He wanted to know what I was drinking on my walk…

#1: Information on grey wolf:

http://www.defenders.org/wildlife_and_habitat/wildlife/wolf,_gray.php

#2: Endangered species list:

http://ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/profile/speciesProfile.action?spcode=A00D

http://ecos.fws.gov/tess_public/pub/stateListingAndOccurrenceIndividual.jsp?state=IL

#3:

http://gerardinebaugh.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/something-was-in-the-fogor-take-bets-on-who-pees-first/

Gardening Tips From A Dog~

Why do we think birds have it so good
Because they don’t have credit cards
and electric bills
That they can fly
when and where they want to
without worry..
Maybe they think what we have is great
Living inside structures
that don’t fall down in heavy winds
and we aren’t someone’s food, or play toy…
Seems we have more in common than not
I just wish I had wings…

The rain poured down this morning, an attempt by Mother Nature to clean off the winters sludge from the roads, buildings and ground. Most of the snow surrounding the house melted off this morning. Before this winter will be official over it will take a few heavy rains, then some sunny days to bake everything clean.

I walked over to the Bog Willows and peered inside their tangled branches, I saw where the snow was hiding. Every bit of ground in the shadows was snow covered. White and icy, refusing to let go of winters bite.

Uriah was very disappointed when I refused to walk in the cold water, which covered the low end of the path. He carefully inched along the un-melted ice and drank from the water.

The skies above us were heavy with moisture. The clouds were a deep soft grey, they moved quickly overhead. I looked up at the motionless tree tops. All the wind was high up in the clouds, the winds pushed them into rolling mountains that swiftly changed shape every second.

With our walking path blocked I turned my attention to the vegetable garden. This past October I had covered it with a tarp and wooden fencing, and an occasional pizza box. I had stuffed a large plastic garbage bag full of autumn leaves and set it in the garden. My intention was to dig those leaves into the newly turned soil and pile them around tomato plants. Right now that bag sat, bloated, in the middle of the garden waiting for me, and spring.

 I walked around the covered area. Stopped and called for Uriah.  

Uriah came over and sat next to me and stared at the garbage bag like I had commanded him to, and then looked up at me waiting for a biscuit.

I pointed to one of the tarps. “You think we can uncover one part and set up a cold frame?”

Uriah actually looked as though he were thinking. He stood up and stepped into a section that was not covered and slowly tried to dig in the dirt. Then he looked up at me with mud stuck to his paws.

“Okay! I get it too mushy to play in, maybe next week!”

Uriah looked at me, sighed, then walked over to a hole and stuck his nose in it, and then he stood back and sneezed. 

“Right! That last rat has to go!” I backed away. I am not crazy about rodents!  “You get right on that!” I raised my eyebrows and kept inching backwards.

Uriah isn’t fond of rats! This rat has taken his biscuits, food and chew toys over the past few months. Whenever I mention that fact, I am told rats bite, hard!  Uriah gave me a look and went into the kennel and slipped into his dog igloo and left me standing there, alone.

 I looked up into the sky, I could hear the high pitch scream of the Red Tail Hawk.  

“Hey, Uriah maybe the hawk will get that last rat for us!”

I turned my attention to the birds. I could hear Blue Jays screaming. The Black birds were congregating in the tree tops and a Robin chattered angrily at me from a Mulberry tree.   Cardinals flitted in and out the branches of the leafless Crab Apple trees.  Somewhere on top of the barn, Doves cooed in a rolling Scottish accent:-)

I pulled my camera out, fully intent on capturing a picture of that Robin. I haven’t seen one since December. I started snapping pictures of the clouds and the lack of snow.

Uriah decided he was bored and followed me to find that Robin. Except every time I pointed the camera he decided to bark at the birds. I gave him a biscuit, or three.  He was trying to protect me from the, big mean Robins. How dare they chatter at me…

Where Will The Hawks Nest If All The Trees Are Gone?~

Everyone was woken up this morning, at seven o’clock, by Kenshin. He ran across the bed.  He pushed aside the vertical blinds. And he pawed at the closed windows. Then he talked and talked, and talked. Siamese talk a lot. They are very vocal cats…

I crawled out of bed and looked out the bathroom window.

  I saw the dark grey sky. I noticed the reddish color of the decks railings were topped with an icing of snow.   And then, I become aware of a slight movement near the bottom section of the deck. I scanned the lower deck for the rats.  I assumed,  the rats must have gotten Kenshin all worked up.  

But, it wasn’t the rat!  It was a very large hawk perched on the railing, just above the rat’s habitat.  This Buteo was not amused! I disturbed him!  It could have been the Red-tailed Hawk…  But, he looked a lot like the Swainson’s hawk that lives around here.

His breast feathers were puffed up, mottled white and reddish orange, mixed in with brown and black.  His deep rich colors blended in with his beige, downy winter feathers.  

The feathers on his head were slick dark, with browns and blacks. I didn’t notice the color of his tail feathers.  They were hidden by the decks railing. And I couldn’t see the color of his eyes. But I felt his gaze when he turned his head slightly.  He ruffled his feathers, in an irritated matter. His beak was hooked and sharp, thick and dark in color.

His stance was of pride.  A Buteo!  It radiated from him. He was beauty.  Beyond everything that was around him. He lived in this moment.

 I wished that I could be that self-assured, and free… There is irony in that word, “free.”

While he watched me, I saw a flicker of concern flash over his eyes. He stretched out his wings and jumped, and glided effortlessly along the ground.  Then he swooped upward into the trees.

I watched him spin and settle on a thin branch.  I immediately thought of how this hawk lost another nesting tree.

The past few days, the air has held a sweet, woody scent. Yesterday I saw what made that smell.

A few miles from my home, there is a grove of Oak trees.  Their ages ranged from seventy to hundred-fifty years old, craggily towering giants.

 I drove past those old trees yesterday and I saw empty spaces and tree stumps.  The Oaks were being cut down. I saw neatly stacked coffins waiting to be carted away.

Why cut down the trees during an ecological crisis?  Shouldn’t we be conserving nature? 

I find all this all very heartbreaking.  

A few hours later, I stepped  out on my deck. The clouds hung heavy and grey.  

In that muffled, snow covered silence.  I heard the hawk’s high pitch screech…

*

 Today, I reached my 2,000th  hit on my site today..Thank you guys! Comment and ask me to add you to my BlogRoll:-)

You can hear the call of the Swainson’s hawk, and other birds here;

http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/44/_/Swainsons_Hawk.aspx

Some Cats And Rats And Popcorn~

I opened the vertical blinds and sat down at my computer and started typing. Tomoe my husband’s cat, silky black with yellow green eyes, saunter into the room. She called out with a cheerful chirping hello, and rubbed against my legs.  With one fluid leap, she was up on the desk and staring out the east window into the dog kennel.

She was sitting there only for a few minutes when she started making odd noises, a cross between a sneeze and a cough. I never heard her make that noise before.  She was staring intently out the window.

 I leaned over her to look outside; a rat was climbing the chain link fence attached to the dog kennel. Right next to the window!  It was weaving in and out of the holes.  He stopped and looked straight at me and continued its upward climb.  Then he crawled along the top of the cage.  Again, he stopped and leaned forward hanging upside down like an acrobat on a trapeze. Here’s the kicker!  He was looking in the window at me, looking at him….

Tomoe was shaking with excitement. I grabbed her, “Come on sweetie, let’s head up stairs and get mommy some coffee” She leaned backwards, and looked towards the window as I quickly carried her out the room.

Once in the kitchen, I pulled out my coffee cup and set it on the counter.  Tomoe had gone over to the sliding glass doors, and stuck her head between the vertical blinds, trying to look outside.

“Hang on, I’ll open them for you.” She made her little squeaking excited sounds and glided around my legs as I pulled the cord and opened the blinds.

Tomoe started pawing at the glass. I looked outside on the porch and saw that rat was climbing up the deck.  He ran over to the sliding door, looked right at me and stood on his hind legs….

I was not amused! Tomoe was ecstatic! Her happy sounds brought, PJ and her brother Kenshin running into the kitchen.  They all sat at the window, tails flipping with excitement, staring at the rat.  Who in turn, was stared at them.  I smiled, all they needed was popcorn!

A couple of years ago, somewhere around Christmas, I had made a big bowl of popcorn I didn’t finish. So in the spirit of giving, I took that popcorn out back with me, when I went for a walk. I sprinkled it under a large tree at the east end of the path. I assumed that with it being under the tree, an animal, or bird could safely eat it. A good deed for the holiday, feed the starving birds….

Come on! No laughing from the peanut gallery!

Well, I thought it was a great plan! The next day I walked out back expecting to find the popcorn gone.

Around the base of that tree it looked like a war zone!

Yes, animals and birds came to eat the popcorn. What I forgot, is this wasn’t a watering hole in Africa. Drink your fill and move on. Those rules don’t apply here.

Whoever showed up must have thought I set out a Smörgåsbord. There were feathers, parts of wings, odd bones, and fur, and drops of blood everywhere.

The popcorn was gone…

So, standing here today,  with that little rat staring at me through the door had me thinking.  I should pull out the popcorn maker and set up a pile of popcorn in the middle of the yard.

What do you think I should do?

“The Best Laid Schemes O’ Mice An’ Men Go Often Askew”~Robert Burns

Yesterday  morning,  I was up with the sun. I opened the window blinds next to the computer, the window that faces east and I watched the sunrise.  A blanket of Altostratus clouds covered half the sky, rippling from the sunset towards the west.

  Along the horizon a narrow strip of pinkish, reddish, sunrise slipped through the break in the clouds and spread upwards, weaving under and over the clouds.  Then peeked out to outline the ripple of clouds in a yellow, white, and pink tinge, all the while the clouds raced, from west to east, along the southern skyline.

Kenshin, my half Siamese male, jumped effortlessly onto the windowsill. He settled his hind legs, with a wiggle, positioning himself on the ledge.  The tip of his tail flipped as he stared outside.

Kenshin’s sister, Tomoe, jumped up next to him in perfect pantomime.  With a flip of her tail she sat beside him. Her shining black fur rolled in irritation.   They both turned, two set of eyes followed my every move, his light blue and her bright gold eyes.   

 Loosing interest in me, they turned back to the window and watched a rat hopping around the outside kennel.  Their mouths quivered.  An odd sound came from both of them. He made a high pitch growling meowing sound. She kept opening and closing her mouth with a smacking sound. They both stared out the window, then back at me, willing me to open the window so they could do what cats do best…  Hunt!

“No, Kenshin! No, Tomoe, I have to trap those rats myself.” 

I don’t know if they understood what I said, or just got tired of wishing after a rat,  when I added, “No outside!” They both jumped down, and Kenshin gave me downward frown.  Tomoe just glared, as she flashed those golden eyes.   They both ran out of the room giving me a backward, scowl. A teenage girl couldn’t have done that look any better.  

One rat, was an irritation, I counted six! They aren’t big. About the size of my hand, but they have to go!  Just figuring out how is the problem.

 I Googled, “How to kill a rat humanely.”

One site said, use poison.  Nope not an option!  I don’t want to kill the Hawks and Owls that hunt around here. Beside the obvious, poison can kill my cat or dog if they eat the dieing rat.

If a poisoned rat gets caught in the walls, Well, that smell will be horrible. I  wondered what would happen if it died, lying on the dirt of my garden and I didn’t see it until spring. Wouldn’t that poison leach into the soil? Big, emphatic, “Yes”  answers that question.

 I found, ‘Rat Zappers.’ on Amazon.  Electrocute the rat starting at forty dollars and up. I checked my purse, no money, on to the next idea.

I found a site, that had the stomp and squish method- it says it all.

There is the bee bee gun method. I looked at the windows and the chain link fence and saw how that could go wrong.

The best, economical rat trap is a cat.  If the rat stays outside, and my cats stay only indoors, they won’t come in direct contact with each other.  But if they ever come inside, they will be used as a squeaky toy. The proximity factor just knocked Kenshin and Tomoe out of the equation. 

I have a live catch trap in the barn. I decided that would be the best first try, for now. Besides I won’t need to pay for the supplies.

I headed for the barn, and dug out the trap and placed it in Uriah’s kennel. I put some of his food on the inside platform, which in theory is suppose to close the door when the rat steps on it.  That’s the plan.

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Go often askew,” ~ Robert Burns’s poem, ‘To a Mouse.’

I had three rats in the cage; they were walking all over that platform. And it never triggered the cage door…

I went back outside and tried to loosen the piece of metal.  Then I placed a board across the platform, with food perched on top.

I went back into the house and watched. Not one of those rats came near the cage. I will leave the trap outside all night.

I just hope I don’t catch a skunk…

I got my 1,000 hit on my site today..Thank you guys! Comment and ask me to add you to my BlogRoll:-)

Jones & Son, The rat trap people
http://www.rattraps.org.uk/Rat-Traps/about.aspx
Rat Zapper
http://www.amazon.com/s?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=rat+zapper+ultra
Robert Burns World Federation
http://www.worldburnsclub.com/poems/translations/554.htm

Mice are perfect cat food

mouseIt’s nearly five in the morning. The heat is running and Uriah is asleep.  My cats are up and energetic, and the outside nocturnal animals aren’t bumping against the house.

This is that very quiet point of the day. I’m usually in bed, but Kenshin, my male half Siamese heard me tossing and turning and said ‘hello.’

I’m not about to step outside, its  freezing- 34 degrees. I am staying inside.

The walls are quiet; come to think of it I didn’t hear any scratching at all last night. Hopefully all the mice have been caught or chased out by the cats.

This has been a great summer for mice; they tried to have the run of the house. My cats were catching them at a rate of one mouse per week. Normally, the mice only try to come inside  in the fall after the farmers harvested their crops.

I still have a chance at more mice soon.  The farmer still has feeder corn standing tall in his south side field. The cats will be happy…

Country mice and rats are slightly different than their city cousins. They are cleaner, and healthier looking. This is my opinion, from what I observed of the little rodents, from my perch on a chair, the couch or in the bathtub.

Just recently a rat took up residence near the outside dog kennel, which happens to be right outside my office window.

When Uriah wants to stay outside all day, I put a cup full of dry dog food outside with him. The rat will come running as if I were feeding him. Sitting upright, next to the dog bowl, looking eerily like a cartoon rat. If it starts talking I’m in trouble.

That rat’s days are numbered.  The hawk has been circling the deck and I have seen the owl during the day a lot this summer.

Just to clarify I don’t like mice or rats running around where I live! The comical run though the house with me heading for high ground is not fun. 

A couple of weeks ago, Kenshin came running out of the kitchen, inches behind a large mouse. I happened to be walking into the kitchen at the same time. I had a mouse and a cat running in circles around me, literally! 

Cats are great mousers. I am not!

Cats love to give me mice. I have learned how to be thankful when they drop them at my feet or on my chest when I’m sleeping…

Keeping with the Green theme, I don’t use poisons. Poison is very bad for other animals that feed on mice.

Besides, a mouse is the perfect cat food, And a cat is a pefect mouser.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:House_mouse.jpg