Saturday, September 30, 2006
The Problem With Rats
Wild rat in the trash, 9-29-06
I must admit some concern at the fact that my trash rat sightings are so frequent. Like a good rat hunter should, I've done my research, and know that the fact that I'm seeing rats during the day means that the apartment is properly infested. It is said that when the population is so great that not enough food can go around, the weaker members of the rat colony are forced to forage during the day. Truthfully though, I don't see how the food supply could be low, being that the people in my building are so careless with their trash. If anything, the food supply is abundant.
I'm lead to believe that the rats feel safe in our little trash nook and aren't scared into foraging only at night. As well, the rats I've been seeing are all bvabies, so maybe the mother is teaching them to scavenge. I'm not sure, but either way it has me concerned that the landlord may eventually decide to take action against them. Once again I'm toying with the idea of buying a live trap and catching them myself-- though I'd want to be sure I relocated the entire family. This then brings up the question of where I would keep the other rats while I tried to capture them all. Granted, I do have two nice sized cages in storage right now, but I'm not sure if it would be safe to put them all together in the same cage, or even if those cages would be appropriate for wild rats. I certainly could never open the cage doors for fear of them jumping out or biting me, so I'd have to devise a way of feeding them without opening the doors. Then there's the fear that they may have some disease or parasite that they'd spread to my rats, which means I couldn't bring the cages into my apartment-- but I certainly couldn't leave them outside. It's a connundrum, indeed.
For now I have to hope the landlord leaves them be. Much as the boldness of the rats thrills me, they need to learn more discretion. And the people in my building need to learn to put their trash in the trash cans and close the lid.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
"There's a rat in there!"Wednesdays are trash days. I don't always remember this, and thus I'll go to take my trash out to the can and the can will be gone. I never took the time to figure out where the trash cans actually go on trash days; I would just take the bag back inside and wait for them to magically reappear.
Today I got lucky. Bundling up my trash bag, I scurried out to the trash nook to find that one can remained to be taken out to wherever it is that trash cans go to be emptied. The man responsible for taking out the trash was standing to the side, staring at the nook warily. As I approached, he told me, "There's a rat in there."
"Oh, I know. There's nine of them. Babies. And at least one adult."
"There's a big one. He jumped on me last time I tried to take the cans out. That's why I'm not moving that one. There's a rat in there."
I was smirking, the sort of expression that says aww, the big man's afraid of the little rat. "I'll take it out for you. Where does it go?"
"Around the corner next to the street."
So setting down my trash bag, I boldly swaggered (well, maybe not swaggered) over to the can, peeking inside. "Ratty ratty ratty," I called. "Cute little squeaky butt." The trash man (for want of a better name) had backed away considerably, and was staring at me as if I were doing something simultaneously brave and insane. Chuckling, I dragged the trash can out of the building, through the gate and onto the sidewalk. As I was wheeling it to the street, I heard a rustling from inside. A rat, not a big fat rat but a little baby, had scurried to the top of the trash bags in what I can only assume was full panic mode. Even though the trash can was a good four feet tall, the tiny rat flung himself from the edge, landing sprawled on the sidewalk, then took off at high speed, scurrying around the corner. With a laugh I sped after him, but he had already dissapeared.
Delivering the trash can to the curb, I returned to the apartment building, where the trash man was waiting.
"Did you see him?" He asked in a hushed voice, as if the rat might hear and come after him.
"Aww, he was just a little thing."
Shaking his head the man returned to sweeping the courtyard, muttering about rats.
Trash Rats Documented
I am guilty of harassing the trash rats. Ever since the luck of having nine baby rats cross my path, I have refused to leave them alone. Every time I venture out I check for them. The trash bags have been taken out, but the trash rats still remain.
I cornered two in the trash nook today. I heard them rustling and hurried over, grinning as I caught a peek of them running for cover. Baby rats are adorable. They looked like mice at first, but then I saw those big heads, small ears, big eyes gazing at me in fright, wondering why this human was so persistantly watching them, talking to them, singing to them (I can't remember the lyrics now, something about 'cute ratty butts come out', but it was a catchy tune).
Throughout the day I checked on them, and all day I found them, and finally my luck kicked in completely and I managed to get photos. Grainy, blurry, poorly lit, poorly composed, but real photos of trash rats in their element. If I was excited before, that's not compared to how I feel now.
Trash rats make me smile...
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Counting RatsToday had the makings of a bad rat day. It started with another dead rat. I know everyone's probably getting tired of reading about dead rats-- I'm getting tired of posting about them. Quit dying, my rodents! It's depressing. To top it off, I came home from school to find that Allister was sick, and had to rush him to the vet, where he'll be staying overnight. Hopefully he'll be well enough to come home tomorrow.
Anyway, I did say today had the makings of a bad rat day-- meaning it wasn't completely bad. For what did I spy as I was coming home from the vet? Rats. Live ones, no less.
Thoroughly disheartened and carrying an empty rat cage, I unlocked the main gate to my apartment building. The noise of my entrance must have startled the residents, because from the corner of my eye I saw a little form dash across the courtyard. I couldn't help but smile as I saw two more young rats scamper past, one at a time. Somebody had stupidly left a pair of trash bags against one wall of the courtyard rather than placing them in the trash bins, and they had been predictably discovered by rats. Baby rats. As I watched three, four, five rats ran past. I was exuberant. Setting down the empty rat cage, I hurried over to the trash bags for a better look. Another rat ran past, then another. Apparantly the fear of being caught in the bag overwhelmed the fear of having to run past me to safety. Or perhaps they just didn't want to be left behind.
Someone else entered the courtyard just as another rat ran past. The large, presumably tough male gave a yelp of surprise and squeaked, "Was that a rat!?"
"There's seven," I replied in delight, just as another ran past. "Oh, he's so cute!"
"Cute?" Said the man in disbelief. "Man, you're whack." And then he retreated to the building.
Nine rats altogether ran from trash bags to mysterious hole. Nine baby rats crossed my path. Is that good luck?
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Rats for DummiesAlright, this link isn't one that I recently discovered-- I've known about it for a while-- but I'm sharing it all because it's a very nice, informative site, and very relevant to Rat Hunter Diaries!
This is a very unassuming page, aimed at those people who know nothing about rats and just happened to have found one (or more!). It has information on telling the difference between wild and domestic rats, what to do if you find an orphaned rat, lists of shelters and those willing to take in rats, plus information on how to get wild rats out of your home. Plus, it's by the creator of Rats are People, Too, one of my favorite wacky rat websites (and also very informative).
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Rat MathI'm trying to make it a point to update more often. Anyway, here is another offering from my Compedium of Mostly Useful Rat Links:
I honestly have no clue what the purpose of this page is. Some sort of rat math? The author seems to be collecting random rat hordes and adding up the total for each picture. (Hmm, I could have used this last year, when I was looking for rat horde photos as references for an Illustration project). Whatever it is, she's got some awesome, beautiful and adorable photos-- though sadly it seems none of them have been attributed properly. Remember folks, just because it's online doesn't make it public domain.
I'm going to have to look up that Illustration project now. It's under my bed, somewhere, I'm sure...
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Eat, Sleep, Breathe RatsI have spent the past two weeks immersed in rats. Every available surface is covered in papers, notes, drawings of rats. I have books that range from children's fiction to pest control and everything in between. When I close my eyes, I see rats.
It all started with my first Word/Image class, when we were directed to select one topic to pursue intellectually and artisticly throughout the entire semester. I was immediately drawn to rats. After all, they are an important aspect in my life and my art, and yet I am far from an expert on rats, and could stand to learn a lot about them and my own relation to them. The following week we began our research paper, and that is how I found myself knee deep in rats.
It's funny. I've researched rats before, casually. I've looked up websites, I've scanned the library offerings. Yet I always only scratched the surface. Somehow, but taking it one step further, I found a wealth of information I couldn't have dreamed of.
The rough draft was due today. I barely finished it in time, and not for lack of effort-- there was just so much information that it was hard putting it all together. I'm still not satisfied with my rough draft, and in the week that we have to revise and turn in the final version, I plan on doing a lot of pruning. Once that is perfected I'll post it up on my website for everyone's reading enjoyment-- in the meantime I plan on sharing some of my more interesting findings.
Thomas Tomczyk -- Temple of Rats
I found out about the Karni Mata temple a while ago, and it is my dream to travel there and take photos of the rats. This guy has done just that, and his photographs are very beautiful-- his trip is fun to read about as well.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
A Different Sort of PestRat hunting has been slow the past few weeks, ever since I started school. Truth be told, I've just been too busy to go out seeking rodents, and it is a rare instance when rodents come to me. However, yesterday I got a chance to do some hunting of a different sort-- rats of the sky. That's right, pigeons.
Living downtown, I get my fare share of pigeons, and they have always fascinated me. There are so many intriguing contrasts between rats and pigeons-- they're both associated with the city, both considered pests within the city, and most would have no qualms with poisoning them. However, it's strange that, although both pests, rats are resigned to the shadows and alleys, whereas pigeons flaunt their presence. Despite countless attempts to deter them, they're everywhere. What's more, they aren't the least bit scared of humans. I was determined to get some nice shots of pigeons in flight, but the silly things wouldn't fly away from me, even when I strolled right up to them. Some waddled slowly away, others just stared at me-- still yet, some of them actually approached, begging food. It's funny to think about-- what if rats were this bold?
Do people fear rats because they're so stealthy and secretive, because they lurk in the shadows? The fear of the unknown, the unnerving thought that they're out there, you just can't see them? I suppose it's easier to trust a pest that makes no pretense at hiding their numbers. And yet, imagine the hysteria if rats were to run willy nilly throughout the city with the same boldness as birds.
It would make getting photos much easier, at least.
Monday, September 04, 2006
Trash Rat: The Saga ContinuesFriday night, as I was coming home from a late party, I nearly stepped on a dead rat.
Beside the queasiness that roadkill is prone to give me, I also felt a feeling of dread, as this rat was right outside my apartment building, and I knew, just knew, it was one of the Trash Rats. And judging by the size, I would say it was an adult. Which meant that the Trashlets had lost a parent. To lose a parent so young! But it is to be expected. Rats have a short lifespan as it is, and I've heard tell that the average life expenctancy of a city rat is about six months-- there are just too many hazards associated with life on the street.
The past few weeks I've only been seeing dead rats, and it's had me down. (Interestingly enough, all the kids at school know I like rats, and for some reason this compels them to tell me about dead rats. I must have heard about the same dead rat from at least four different people.) Determined to see one of the living, I spent a few nights sitting out in the courtyard with my camera and a flashlight, staring intently at the trash cans, jumping at the slightest rustle or squeak. No luck.
I was taking out my trash today when they caught me completely by surprise. I'd given up on rat spotting-- I went to the trash noisily and without stealth. I was chucking the bag into the trash can when I saw the first one, a big fat agouti, scramble across the lid of the neighboring can. I was delighted. "Ratties!" I crouched down, peeking around the cans, and saw forms scurrying to hide. Eagerly I waited for them to make an appearance. One little rat head poked out to look at me, then quickly retreated. I can just imagine these two rats thinking "What is with this crazy lady? Why won't she go away?" After a bit one rat made a mad dash for the mysterious hole. I followed and watched with admiration as he scrambled down the wall and dodged into a crack in the bricks. My camera, why didn't I have my camera? I hurried inside for it, but by the time I returned, they were gone. Such luck I have.
I've been trying to figure out basic patterns for rat sightings, but so far I have none. No specific time of day or time of week stands out in my mind. All I have to build off of is location. I predict a lot of fruitless sitting and waiting in my future. The things I do for rats..