The second series of rodent control about rats.
So I thought about them wanting the bait in the trap but that they were well aware that it was a trap. I imagined them approaching the trap but staying well clear of the jaw mechanism. They would push the trap off its ledge till it snaps shut after hitting the ground, then they would eat the bait, which explained why the trap was not where I had set it at and sprung, sans the bait.
So to solve this problem I thought the answer would be to drill a couple of holes in the rat trap and shoot it down onto a scrap piece of 2X4 with dry wall screws with a drill and screw driver bit. No go. They were too cagey that next night. If they couldn’t push it and snap the trap, they wouldn’t play the game and eat the bait. My favorite rat bait is smoked salmon skin that I would get at the Del Mar Fish House. I would rubber band it on to the bait peddle. Then leave a few of the the tiniest of skin scraps smeared on the board and trap. Not enough for them to get the smallest of a meal but enough to taste how good it is.
Then I remembered the insight I learned with tame rats. Whenever a mother discovered one of her young that had died, they would fuss over it, by gently rolling it around bopping it back and forth and push on it, lift it up, drop it etc. They would do this for about a minute and a half, then, like as it were a mechanical switch in her head, nature would tell her that it was more important to safeguard her living babies than one that was obviously dead and she would just drop it and leave, never to return. But I remembered how strong the instinct to is ‘box” the baby rat around to try and revive it. They were driven to do this. This was going to happen so I might as well use it to my advantage.
I was falconer and since I still had most of her babies frozen in my freezer, marked “Hawk Food”, that I’d use one of them as bait. But imagining the mother approaching the dead baby rat at night in the stock trap, she would pull it off part way before setting off the trap and she would get away. This is called a “bad set” in trapping parlance. It would educate the female completely and she would never get trapped, being forever “trap shy” from that night forward. I had to figure a way to make sure she walked over the bait pedal first before she dragged the dead baby rat away to box it.
So I thought I’d build a little plywood box to put the trap in, which I later built but the first box trap was just an old shoe box. The dimensions were perfect allowing for full travel of the trap’s killing jaw inside the box. So I glued the shoe box to a flat board a little wider and longer than the shoe box. I shot the trap down with the screws inside the shoe box with about 2″ of a gap between the set side of the trap ( not the bait side) and the right wall of the box. This was just enough of a space to place the dead baby bait. I applied a bit of super glue to the baby to make the mother struggle with it as she would rather try to revive it away from the scary trap. I figured she would be pulling on it while bracing her legs into the bait pedal end of story for Mrs.Monsewerrat.
That night I started to make the set by rubber banding a .5″ piece of salmon skin to the pedal just for good measure. Then I cut out a round hole for an entrance door on the left end and set the trap. Then I put the lid on (now the front wall) and electrical taped it in down in place. Next I set the board and trap affair up where the rats were feeding (called “foraging”) as I don’t like to show my hand by placing the trap in their runways, spooking them. That buffet area being the attic crawl space above my bedroom. They would bring dog food and citrus fruit and eat it up their. Then they would fight it out over the food, making quite a racket.
About 2:00 a.m. the next morning, I heard the trap go off and I smiled, but went back into REM. I didn’t check it til the next day (I think rats know about human sleep habits and do their foraging when everyone one is deeply asleep). “GOT HER!” I bellowed like Chekoff on the original STAR TREK TV series upon hitting a Clingon battle cruiser with a photon torpedo. A big fat rat there before me dead in the trap never looked so good! I felt exhilaration, gratification and pride all because I had outfoxed a rodent. What a brainiac.
So the next order of business was to catch the the big boar/ bull male rat, the one sporting the big cajones. If I can get him, I can assuredly break the rat production cycle completely and utterly, once and for all ( or until the next family of rats move in).
I thought if I caught the mother rat with a baby, why couldn’t I catch the bull with the dead female? Now I made an enlarging adjustment to the bait area to accommodate the larger than a baby mother rat in the right hand space by moving the trap to the left another inch, and glued her down there on the right. Just like the mother after the baby, he would try to revive her and drag her away to do it, thereby setting off the trap. I made the “set” and hit the hay.
In the middle of the night about three nights later ( I had been taking her down every morning and re-freezing her to keep her fresh) came WACK! I smiled and thought that I’d just leisurely check it the next morning, and went back to sleep- but I got distracted as we were preparing for my next birthday party. One distraction led to another and another.
Six weeks later I was laying in bed when my eyes drifted over to the crawl space lid. “The rat!!! (duhhhh!) OH s@#t! — It was now August and it must have been 120`s up there in the day. I opened up the crawl space lid to behold one of the grossest things on God’s green earth, a rotten rat. It was green.
But it was at one time a big male boar rat, one I had trapped. He was the smartest of the family and the most trap shy of the lot and I was a bit proud but thoroughly disgusted.
I buried it in the garden as rotten rats are delicacies in certain parts of the yard by trees and shrubs.
End of Part Two