We have several bird feeders in the yard, as well as a birdbath (which has been very popular during the last few months of drought), and although the intended recipients of our generosity are avian, we get a few uninvited guests. Squirrels I can live with--they'd be here even without the feeders, thanks to the giant oak tree in the yard. It's the rats I'm not fond of. If I knew they were happy to stay out in the yard I wouldn't be so bugged, but they have a tendency to seek shelter in the crawl space under the house, and from there it would be fairly easy to find a squeezeway into our domicile. I prefer to maintain my home as a closed ecosystem, no rodents allowed.
Fortunately, I have a terrier mix., and she comes hard-coded for critter killing. (Since she's mixed with a herding breed, she also herds sheep. Or at least she has worked sheep and would still if I were independently wealthy enough to keep up that activity. One of my earliest posts in this here blog mentioned our brief adventures in sheep herding.) So anyway, yesterday Lucy killed her third rat of the summer, earning her the dancehall MC name of "Lady RatKillah."
Her first two kills were solo, but I've got to admit to an assist in this latest one. Lucy had cornered the critter, of species Rattus Norvegicus, under the deck in a spare length of that black flex pipe used for landscaping (does anyone need any of this stuff? I have some just sitting under my deck providing hiding places for rodents.) I could tell there was a critter in there by the level of her alert--if it's just recent scent of critter she only sniffs deeply and wags her tail, but if there's an actual critter she starts yipping, barking and whining and gets a crazed, manic look on her face.
She was running from one end of the pipe to the other, whacking it with her paw in an attempt to scare out the rat. I decided to help her flush the critter, so when she ran to the other end, I picked up my end of the pipe and shook it. I immediately heard scurrying and scuffling under the deck and then "squeak, squeak squeak, squeak!" followed by silence. Holy hanta virus, I just helped my dog kill a rat! I wasn't even sure I wanted to look. I immediately felt a little ambivalent about my role in the carnage. I just helped cause the death of a living creature. But dang, it was a rat, y'all. They're disease vectors and they chew holes in things that ought not have holes. And besides, it was my dog who did the actual killing, you know, nature, red in tooth and claw and all that. I think I'd feel worse if it were a cute little bunny rabbit or something.
I wish I'd had my camera on me to get a picture of the cute little dog with a dead rat in her mouth--it was sort of awful and wonderful at the same time. But I was really more concerned about getting her to leave the rat--I didn't want her to start chewing on it or anything. But the thing is, there aren't many rewards that trump critter in Lucy's eyes. She was proud of her kill and wanted to make sure it was really dead. Still, I ran inside and got some cheese to tempt her away. After a minute or so of hearing "Cheese, Lucy! Treat, Lucy!" she snapped out of her reverie and came in the house. I left the rat for a half an hour to make sure he was really dead before I picked him up, putting three plastic grocery bags to re-use (I needed three to make sure that there was plenty of plastic between me and Señor Rata Muerta.)
Mr. Gomez (aka "MC Sniffy G" in the hip-hop world) played his part by staying out of the way. He's a lovah, not a killah. I gave him some cheese anyway.