It was a dark, rainy week night, and I had already gone to bed. Alas my slumber was short-lived as Brian informed me of a rat hanging out behind our oven.
This required immediate action. It was bad enough that we had a colony of wild ceiling cats to deal with, but rats? Surely the cats would have driven them away – just what sort of hovel had we bought?
Surprisingly catching a rat is pretty easy – sure they’re fast, with sharp teeth, but they also come with a really long, (and useless) tail. If they were evolutionary astute animals they would have lost the tail a long time ago.
When handling a wild rat, hold it by the tip of it’s tail. Do not try and grab it by the scruff of the neck, as it will demonstrate the flexibility of a cat and bite. And there will be blood. Unfortunately this also means it will be difficult to kill it with a hammer or spade as will probably be suggested by your local macho male.
So now there is a rather upset, inverted rat hanging at arm’s length from me, and much blood dripping on the floor. As this is not an ideal long-term solution, urgent action was required.
Immediate action: Put rat into plastic box.
Possible follow-up actions:
a) Throw rat into backyard.
b) Drive to neighbouring suburb and release it. (Also known as the SEP phenomenon.)
d) Induce termination, by filling box with water.
c) Put box into freezer and go to bed.
Option a) didn’t seem like a particularly good long-term solution. And I wasn’t keen on this becoming a nightly ritual.
Option b) also didn’t seem very appealing at 11pm on a work-night.
Option c) is inhumane. Rats hate water.
Option d) Seemed cruel. Besides chances are Mr Rat would gnaw out of box, run around in a freezer for a bit wrecking havoc before settling down. And we needed the food.
A new solution was required. What would MacGyver do? “Let’s gas him!”, was Brian’s suggestion.
In the absence of a better idea, I was about to get a crash revision course in high school chemistry.
How to gas a rat:
1) Add vinegar to sealed rat box. Rats don’t seem to mind vinegar too much. Particularly balsamic vinegar.
2) Add baking soda.
3) Wait 10 seconds.* That’s it. Highly effective. Rat loses consciousness almost immediately. Apparently CO2 suffocation is also the destruction method of choice for male chickens in poultry farms. Although they probably don’t use Balsamic vinegar.
*Of course in our case you might want to wait 5 minutes, and then put him in the freezer, just to be sure). Besides, garbage day wouldn’t be for another week, and where else would you keep a well-marinated rat?