Jaws of death: 1

When it comes to the critters of the desert, I'm pretty much a live-and-let-live kind of guy. This was, after all, their home long before it became mine. Rabbits, coyotes, lizards, crows, raccoons, owls, roadrunners — que sera sera!

For a long time I've been aware of a citrus rat living nearby. I would occasionally see it scuttle under the shrubbery, and, of course, there was ample evidence of its presence in the form of gnawed-out grapefruits. For the most part, however, he kept discretely to himself and avoided all cross-species social contact. In recent weeks, however, the rat had become more and more bold, scampering from one side of the gate to the other and now and then coming out into plain sight on the patio.

Last week I finally had enough. I was sitting on the patio enjoying my one allowed cup of morning coffee when a ruckus erupted in the top of the Indian laurel tree. Suddenly a dark gray shape plummeted from the top of the tree and landed astraddle the top of the wall. It was a smallish rat, and he lay there with his little legs splayed on either side of the wall, catching his breath and trying to comprehend what had just happened. Soon a big ol' alpha rat descended from the tree and assailed the smaller rat again, knocking it to the floor and chasing it down under the bushes, where, by the shrill eeks and squeaks, a pitched battle must have taken place. Eventually the smaller rat escaped and ran for his life.

I had found my limit. It was simply intolerable that my quiet enjoyment of the sole cup of morning coffee I'm allowed should be disturbed by quarrelsome rodents. They would have to go.

jaws of death

At Lowes I found some poison rat treats and an intimidating trap that I promptly dubbed the jaws of death. I brought them home and scattered the treats and baited the trap with peanut butter, as recommended. I carefully cocked the trap and placed it in the runway behind the bushes.

When I checked the next morning, the treats had disappeared and all the peanut butter was gone from the trap. The bastard had somehow managed to clean out every speck of peanut butter and even left little paw prints on the trap's trigger, but the trap was not sprung! I replenished the peanut butter and replaced the trap.

On the second morning, the trap was again unsprung, but again all the peanut butter — every teensy little speck of it — was gone. Harrumph! There seemed to be a misunderstanding about the rules of this game. The object is not to fatten the rats, but to kill them! Once again I baited the trap and set it carefully behind the bushes.

Finally, on the third morning, I found the trap sprung with a small rat with only his tail sticking out of the jaws of death. One down! Bring 'em on!