A few years ago we had an infestation of rats in our garage. It started with a scratching noises in the rafters and quickly ballooned to a cacophony of tiny claws scrittering every which way when the door was opened. Then there were the droppings. Hard to see at first because of the multitude of junk stacked in every square inch of the garage but the rats soon tired of pooping in corners and began to poop wherever they darn well felt like. We had an aluminum canoe hanging from the rafters which was a favorite rat hang out. We could hear them prancing around its cavernous (to the rats) interior from twilight to sunup. And when we finally hoisted the boat down to sell it, the inside was littered with droppings and stained with urine. So yeah, basically, yuck.
We knew they weren't just mice either because Brett had seen a whole family brazenly taking a stroll through the clutter one night. Completely unfazed by the overhead light and the appearance of a human being they looked up at him as if to say, "Welcome to our home. Can we help you?" These were thick, fat, greasy black rats with demon-red eyes and repulsive reptilian tales. Something had to be done.
Knowing that standard snapping mouse traps would be insufficient for this kind of infestation we contemplated buying the larger rat-sized model. But as neither of us wanted to lose a toe during an innocent trip out to bring in some apple juice we decided it would be unsafe. Poison was an option which we tried until the first rat died and we were unable to locate the corpse and it stunk the place up. Finally I found the solution. The Victor Electronic Rat Trap.
It's essentially a little house that the rat walks into in search of food and then ZAP! He is electrocuted when his paws are in contact with the metal floor and his nose touches the metal backing on which the bait is placed. Once he's dead you simply pick up the entire trap and dump the rat carcass into the trash. Reload and repeat. There's even a light that comes on on top to let you know when you've made a kill so you don't have to crawl around on the ground to inspect it every morning.
It was pricey compared to standard traps (around $40) but it had great reviews so I bought it, baited it with peanut butter, and set it out. The next morning I couldn't wait to check it.
No green light on top. No dead rat. Weird. I'd heard them partying all night, dancing to Prince tunes and smoking cigarettes. Why would they avoid my trap?
Brett suggested I place it parallel with the wall as that's the natural place for rodents to travel. If the scent of tasty Jif wasn't enough to lure them in perhaps they would just be stupid enough to walk in during the course of their journey. I made the adjustment and the next morning... still nothing. No green light. No rodent death.
I tried a couple of different places in the garage and the novelty started to wear off. I made noises about taking the darn thing back. Maybe the rats had moved on of their own accord and I wouldn't need to be the judge, jury, and executioner after all. Eventually, I moved the trap to the spot where I would be most likely to have success: parallel to the wall behind the dog food container. (I knew they were fond of dog food as I had seen their gnaw marks on the plastic lid.) It would be right outside the door to the house. All I would need to do is poke my head out each morning and check for the light. I decided to leave it there until I got around to taking it back.
Since I'd had it for so long, I didn't want to take the trap back without a good reason ("This never caught a single rat" didn't seem good enough.) I thought that maybe the trap was malfunctioning and the rats were eating the bait and not being properly electrocuted. So one morning I got down and peeked through the mesh at the bait end of the trap.
A little dead rat face was staring back at me.
"BLWEERRRRGH!" I cried involuntarily, my heart racing and palms sweating with both excitement at having caught something and disgust at having caught something. "I caught a rat! I caughtarat! Icaughtarataratarat!!"
Wait a second... what about the green light on the top which I'd been checking faithfully for many days which was to alert me when I'd made a kill? Was it broken? Clearly the trap did its duty. Why no warning that I'd be face to face with a rude surprise?
I started at the trap accusatorily for a few moments. It was then that I noticed that there was a light on the top. It was flashing. Not "blinkblinkblink." More like "blink... ... .... ... blink ... ... ... blink... ... ..." I might have to watch for a full 5 seconds to see the light make one quick blink. Harumph. Poor design. Well no matter now. I'd killed my first varmit. I emptied it into the trash and replaced the trap. Easy, quick, and clean, just like the box promised! I was sold.
We caught a few more little rats in quick succession (one drawback, unless you check and empty the trap during the night, you can only get one rat each day) then there was a dry spell. We began to venture into the garage again, sometimes even barefoot, usually without a weapon. And as it was shaping up to be a pleasant, vermin-free environment we decided to try to clean it out a little.
Cleaning the garage is a terrible, terrible chore. By default, our garage is filled with a mish-mash of outdoor stuff (camping equipment, lawn care stuff), car stuff, DJ stuff, and old/broken stuff which we can't part with because IT MIGHT BE USEFUL SOMEDAY. We had to take it slow, cleaning just a little bit each night so the task wouldn't feel so overwhelming.
About four nights into the job, Brett suggested I check the trap to make sure the peanut butter hadn't gotten all dry and crusty and thus less savory to any rats which might still be hanging around, undeterred by the cold-blooded murder of their kin. I peered at the trap for a good 10 seconds waiting for a blink... blink... blink... just in case. No lights. Good, because I'd already been surprised by a dead rat once and I didn't intend to ever make that kind of noise again in my life.
I reached for the trap and noticed that the switch was in the off position, Great, that's why we'd have having a dry spell. The darn thing didn't get turned back on after the last catch. "Hey honey," I called to Brett, "This silly thing isn't even OOOOOOOOOOMYBLWEERRRRGH!"
Hanging out the end was a big, fat, black, greasy, rat butt, complete with reptilian tale.
I screamed some more and dropped the trap. What the...? How? Why?! The light! The light wasn't on! The trap wasn't even on! How on earth...?
Then I heard it. The manical laughter of a man. A man who has done something... rotten to his wife.
A man who upon seeing that a fat, disgusting, rat had been killed in his trap saw an opportunity. An opportunity to prank his loving, sweet, kind, self-sacrificing spouse and scare the pants off of her.
It must have been a rare afternoon kill because the light was blinking for Brett when he arrived home. So instead of just taking the dang thing out to the trash, he turned it off, and tilted it forward so the rat slid all the way to the end, out of sight for his unsuspecting victim.
Then he innocently suggested that his wide-eyed, beautiful, naive, fresh-faced bride pick it up to check it.
WHAT KIND OF MAN DOES THIS TO HIS WIFE?!
Oh yeah. The kind that wants to laugh his fool head off when she can't stop screaming. That kind.
And he wonders why I have a blog called Serious Injury Inflicted.