I really truly hate the rats that sneak into my garden at night and eat my produce. It makes my so angry to go out in the morning and see that a nectarine tree that was once full of semi ripe fruit has been stripped bare. I grit my teeth when I look at the tomatoes that have gnaw marks on them, and the broad bean pods that are nibbled open at exactly the spot where each bean nestles inside. I hate the fact that they make my dog go crazy, and I hate that feeling when something moves past me at speed in the dark.
I hate them so much I went on a mission to kill them, and found myself happily browsing the “pest eradication” section at Bunnings to determine the weapon of choice for my murderous mission. So focused was I that I didn’t even spend my usual 6 to 8 minutes gazing wistfully at the seed packets. No, I was there to select a killing method and get started ASAP.
The range is actually quite staggering. There are of course chemical weapons, poisons available in pellet or block form – which then cause massive internal hemorrhaging. Sounds pretty horrible, but then I remembered the broad beans and my qualms disappeared.
On the more physical side of the arsenal, there are of course traps – I remember mouse traps from my childhood, rat traps are of course bigger and look like they should have ACME printed on them – they look really scary and the sort of thing that could snap off a child’s finger. So I keep looking.
There are also cage type traps, so the rat can be humanely disposed of. Then what? Am I to stick it up the car exhaust and let it fall asleep, passing away peacefully (with a tummy full of nectarines).
More interestingly was a product called a “noosi” that somehow snaps a rubber band around the rats neck, a very very tight rubber band that causes “instant cruelty free death”. This all sounds a bit complicated, and to be honest I am not opposed to a little cruelty in my current state of mind.
So, I chose to use the chemical warfare. Rat poison in the form of a convenient wax block, that is weather proof. My husband fixed these up high and right around the garden, screwing them to the trellis and fence posts. The first night, all four were gnawed on. The second night they were completely eaten, gone. So I figured we had some rats that were feeling pretty sick. Good.
It took about 3 days then I found a body under the clothesline. It was pretty big, long tail and serious teeth. I guess it was healthy (before the posining I mean) what with his raw food diet and all. And yes, it was a male.
“What happened to him” asked my seven year old.
“He ate some poison and got sick” I said, trying not to smile triumphantly.
“Why didn’t you help him?” asked the boy.
Which is a totally fair question, as this child has seen me pick up and care for ducklings, parrots, and lizards. He has seen me carefully scoop up all manner of legged and flying insects and pop them outdoors. I don’t even (directly) kill the caterpillars, I pop them on a shadecloth awning for the birds. What could I say?
“I didn’t know”. So there, I lied to my kid, and I killed a living creature. At this point I felt a little bad.
But the truth is, I’m still angry thinking about how good those nectarines would have been.