Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Another little roommate

{sigh} A new little rat has moved in behind the washer and dryer, out in the garage. She (I’ve decided it’s a girl, for no good reason) was wooed by the garbage, which I keep in the garage, just on the other side of the kitchen door. She’d carried various delicacies to her dining table behind the dryer, where she evidently enjoyed them with gusto.

The last roof rat who lived out there came in to eat the dog food. That was when the German shepherd and the greyhound were consuming about 20 pounds of kibble a week. I murdered him—the rat, I mean, not one of the dogs. Pizzened the little guy. He croaked over under the dryer. I had to drag the machine out from the wall in order to retrieve his ripening remains and inter him in the garbage can.

Anyway, the neighborhood is enjoying quite the roof rat infestation just now. On the phone yesterday, La Bethulia said she’d found not one but two of the little charmers…inside the house!!! One of them was after the dog food—her house has an indoor utility room, not a washer-dryer hook-up the garage. And the other was, hevvin help us, nestling in the linen closet.

Augh!

Another neighbor e-mailed to say he’d found rat signs around his house.

Well, what to do with Our Rattie? She was out at the time I discovered her dwelling behind the washer and dryer. I’d had to move my car out of the garage, because the tree guys’ equipment and debris blocked the driveway. This provided an opportunity to break out the shop vac and thoroughly clean the garage. That was when I discovered her pellets and the remains of her lunch.

She must have been utterly terrorized, between the unholy racket the men made cutting down the huge tree outside the garage, the banging and thumping of the washer and dryer running (it was a multitasking day), and the roar of the shop vac. She ran off. One of the men pulled the washer and dryer out so I could clean up the mess behind them, and there was no sign of her underneath the machines.

So I hauled the garbage to the alley and determined to keep each day’s kitchen trash in the kitchen and trot it out to the alley each evening. I really don’t like to go out there after dark—don’t know which I’d less rather encounter: a four-legged rat or a two-legged one. But obviously nothing even vaguely edible can be left in the garage.

Poisoning rats is not the ideal strategy. If one of the little guys passes not through the Veil but through a hole in your wall, you’ve got a major stench that you can’t easily get rid of. Rat traps are supposed to be effective, but I can’t set a mouse trap without slamming my fingers…just imagine what a rat trap would do to a finger! I picked up a pair of glue traps at Home Depot, but they seem inhumane, to say the least.

But I had an idea.

This is gross. If you’re already grossed out by this conversation, by all means avert your eyes here!

It occurred to me that a dog is a predator. A rat, which is much like a rabbit with short ears, is prey. No prey animal with will sleep in a den decorated with fresh predator markings. Dogs mark their territory not just with urine but also with feces—the glands around the anus dispense pheromones that say “I was here.” Or, more precisely, “Get off my property!” Cassie’s little mounds, in contrast to those of a 90-pound shepherd or hound, are so small they’re fairly inoffensive. To the human nose, that is. But what if…

Next time I took Cassie for a walk and gathered one of her gifts off the neighbor’s yard, instead of tossing it in the nearest garbage can, I brought it home and deposited it in a disposable paper bowl. Slipped this into the nest area behind the washer and dryer, and then snuck away to wait.

I think Rattie may have been back once or twice—a few more of her pellets showed up around the washer. But they could have been old ones. She certainly isn’t hanging around, because there’s nothing to eat.

Gerardo blowered out the garage when he came by to clean up the yard, removing those last few pellets from sight, and I deposited a fresh dose of predator pheromone behind the washer. So now we shall see if this scheme works!

Author: funny

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8 Comments

  1. Sounds like a great idea, I hope it continues to be an easy solution! We have had problems with mice out here, and it didn’t help a bit that we have four dogs and four cats. I was concerned about using poison, in case one of the domesticated four legs decided to eat a deceased mouse so hesitated for a long time. Until they were literally eating the walls. You could hear them munching on the walls during the night!! Scrape, scrape, scrape went their teeth… I finally tried the poison and we haven’t had a problem since. Thank goodness.

  2. Yeah – my little bungalow has a rock foundation that’s impossible to seal from the mice entirely. Luckily Miss Molly doesn’t seem to be interested in eating them, so I do put out bait in the fall when the beasties move in.

  3. @ threadbndr: It’s important to be sure the pets can’t get at the bait or at the dead critters. The Ger-shep and the greyhound couldn’t squeeze behind the washer & dryer, but the little Corgi sure can. That’s another reason I’m less than thrilled at the prospect of poisoning the uninvited roommate.

  4. Eliminating the food probably had more of an effect than the odor. Norway rats, at least, can learn to habituate to dog odor pretty well, and cat odor with more work. Infection with Toxoplasmosis can also cause rats to be attracted to cats, although I don’t know about dogs.

  5. @ synapse: Yes, I think the little gal was disappointed to find the Horn (or Trash Can) of Plenty absent!

    Hmmm…. You realize…Cassie the Corgi dotes on cats. She doesn’t want to chase them; she wants to love them up. It’s strange behavior…she tracks every cat scent frantically, whenever we come to a yard where a cat lives, and when she finds a cat she sidles up to it and gazes adoringly into its predatory nocturnal eyeballs. Her previous humans reported that they had a cat. I wonder if she might have picked up a little parasite from her former roommate.

    Waitminit… STOP THE PRESSES!

    Holy mackerel, lookit this, from that font of all truth, Wikipedia:

    Behavioral changes

    It has been found that the parasite has the ability to change the behaviour of its host: infected rats and mice are less fearful of cats—in fact, some of the infected rats seek out cat-urine-marked areas. This effect is advantageous to the parasite, which will be able to proliferate as a cat could eat the infected rat and then reproduce. [19] The mechanism for this change is not completely understood, but there is evidence that toxoplasmosis infection raises dopamine levels and concentrates in the amygdala in infected mice[citation needed].

    The findings of behavioural alteration in rats and mice have led some scientists to speculate that Toxoplasma may have similar effects in humans, even in the latent phase that had previously been considered asymptomatic. Toxoplasma is one of a number of parasites that may alter their host’s behaviour as a part of their life cycle.[20] The behaviors observed, if caused by the parasite, are likely due to infection and low-grade encephalitis, which is marked by the presence of cysts in the human brain, which may produce or induce production of a neurotransmitter, possibly dopamine,[21] therefore acting similarly to dopamine reuptake inhibitor type antidepressants and stimulants.

    Correlations have been found between latent Toxoplasma infections and various characteristics:[22]

    * Decreased novelty-seeking behaviour[23]
    * Slower reactions
    * Lower rule-consciousness and greater jealousy (in men)[23]
    * Promiscuity and greater conscientiousness (in women)[23]

    The evidence for behavioral effects on humans is controversial (see a collection of research papers at http://natur.cuni.cz/flegr/publ.php).[citation needed] No prospective research has been done on the topic, e.g., testing people before and after infection to ensure that the proposed behavior arises only afterwards. Although some researchers have found potentially important associations with Toxoplasma, the causal relationship, if any, is unknown, i.e., it is possible that these associations merely reflect factors that predispose certain types of people to infection. However, many of the neurobehavioral symptoms that are postulated to be due to toxoplasmosis correlate to the general function of dopamine in the human brain, and the fact that toxoplasmosis upregulates the production of dopamine-stimulating tyrosine hydroxylase enzymes makes it likely that neurobehavioral symptoms can result from infection.

    Studies have found that toxoplasmosis is associated with an increased car accident rate in people with Rh-negative blood. The chance of an accident relative to uninfected people is increased roughly 2.5 times.[21][24][25]

    This may be due to the slowed reaction times that are associated with infection.[24] “If our data are true then about a million people a year die just because they are infected with Toxoplasma,” the researcher Jaroslav Flegr told The Guardian.[26] The data shows that the risk decreases with time after infection, but is not due to age.[21] Ruth Gilbert, medical coordinator of the European Multicentre Study on Congenital Toxoplasmosis, told BBC News Online these findings could be due to chance, or due to social and cultural factors associated with Toxoplasma infection.[27] However there is also evidence of a delayed effect which increases reaction times.[28]

    Other studies suggest that the parasite may influence personality. There are claims of Toxoplasma causing antisocial attitudes in men and promiscuity[29] (or even “signs of higher intelligence”[30] ) in women, and greater susceptibility to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in all infected persons.[29] A 2004 study found that Toxoplasma “probably induce[s] a decrease of novelty seeking.” [31]

    According to Sydney University of Technology infectious disease researcher Nicky Boulter in an article that appeared in the January/February 2007 edition of Australasian Science magazine, Toxoplasma infections lead to changes depending on the sex of the infected person. [32][33]

    The study suggests that male carriers have shorter attention spans, a greater likelihood of breaking rules and taking risks, and are more independent, anti-social, suspicious, jealous and morose. It also suggests that these men are deemed less attractive to women. Women carriers are suggested to be more outgoing, friendly, more promiscuous, and are considered more attractive to men compared with non-infected controls. The results are shown to be true when tested on mice, though it is still inconclusive. A few scientists have suggested that, if these effects are genuine, prevalence of toxoplasmosis could be a major determinant of cultural differences.[22][33][34]

    Toxoplasma’s role in schizophrenia

    The possibility that toxoplasmosis is one cause of schizophrenia has been studied by scientists since at least 1953.[35] These studies had attracted little attention from U.S. researchers until they were publicized through the work of prominent psychiatrist and advocate E. Fuller Torrey. In 2003, Torrey published a review of this literature, reporting that almost all the studies had found that schizophrenics have elevated rates of Toxoplasma infection.[35] A 2006 paper has even suggested that prevalence of toxoplasmosis has large-scale effects on national culture.[36] These types of studies are suggestive but cannot confirm a causal relationship (because of the possibility, for example, that schizophrenia increases the likelihood of Toxoplasma infection rather than the other way around).[35]

    * Acute Toxoplasma infection sometimes leads to psychotic symptoms not unlike schizophrenia.
    * Some anti-psychotic medications that are used to treat schizophrenia, such as haloperidol, also stop the growth of Toxoplasma in cell cultures.
    * Several studies have found significantly higher levels of Toxoplasma antibodies in schizophrenia patients compared to the general population.[37]
    * Toxoplasma infection causes damage to astrocytes in the brain, and such damage is also seen in schizophrenia[citation needed].

    FYI, Readers who aren’t familiar with this organism: Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a protozoan parasite whose primary host is cats. It infects most warm-blooded animals; the domestic cat is a major reservoir of the disease.

  6. if ya need to u can borrow my cat, she’s a terrific mouser and loves dogs (she has been know to pet them with a velvet paw and groom them (not that most dogs care for the attention (although i have met some that were pretty cool about it

    • @ mizdenny: How funny! Cassie the Corgi loves cats, and can get strange cats to come up and sniff her on the nose and try to play with her.

      Our roof rats are about the size of a Norwegian rat, which is as big as most cats. I’d be a little concerned about a cat getting hurt in a confrontation with an animal that size.

  7. Funny, your ad says a cockroach can give you salmonella. It’s SOOOO unlikely that a cockroach can “give” you salmonella as to be ridiculous!