Friday, May 1, 2015

ProfessorRoush 6, Pack Rats 0

Among my spring chores, one of the nagging little tasks that I kept putting off was the formulation of a siege and eventual frontal attack on a pair of pack rat middens that have encroached across the neutral zone onto my garden.  In particular, the evil pack rat empire has practically destroyed my beloved 'Red Cascade', pictured at right from last year, and I could no ignore the necessity of the mission.  Thus, I carefully planned, and then executed a  temporarily successful campaign.   Believe me, JFK was much less subtle in dealing with the Cuban Missile Crisis than I was in my blitzkrieg on the midden.

I began first by surrounding the middens with baited traps since I wanted to eliminate the rats before attacking their castle.  There is, for your information, actually a better mouse trap that the world should be beating a path to.  Those traps, in both mouse and rat sizes are the TomCat Secure Kill Rat Traps, which are easy to set without endangering your own fingers.  In full disclosure, I have received no payback from TomCat, but I'm still endorsing them   The score, in three nights; ProfessorRoush 4, Pack Rats 0.

In a second wave two nights later, I marshaled my tools of assault and began the sacking of Pack Rat Troy. I first used loppers to remove the camouflage that hid the nest so well (left, above).  Now you can see the midden more clearly (photo to the right), and you can see where most of last year's hardwood mulch from the bed has been moved.

I then pulled, raked, and swept all this structure from around and among the rose, cutting canes further down as each layer came off, until I was left with a clean and very much shortened miniature climber (photo to the left).  I'm hopeful that a little sunlight and water and fertilizer will restore this rose soon to its former glory.  As a trophy of war, I also transplanted two self-rooted starts of 'Red Cascade' from near this pile to another part of the garden, an activity that might not have occurred if I had not been provoked into action.  Silver linings and all that.

I know this whole activity seems somewhat cruel to those who hold Nature innocent and feel that its activities should be held beyond human interference, but other innocent bystanders had fallen in harm's way, innocents such as this young nearby hosta that was providing the fresh greens of the pack rat diet.  I couldn't stand by while the rights of neighboring living creatures were eaten away.

Oh, and if you're wondering if I can count and don't know the difference between the casualty rate I claimed in this blog's title versus in the text (6 vs 4), tune in again in a couple of days and I'll tell you how two other pack rat villains met a recent demise in my garden.


  1. What a job! It's going to be a while till Red Cascade is back to its former self, but it can now grow without the handicap of the rats and their habits. Glad to get the recommendation for that 'better mousetrap'. Folks find it ironic that I'm such an animal lover, yet I have no problem with dead in some cases. As long as the critter is quickly and humanely dispatched, I'm good with it.

    Looking forward to the conclusion of this story.

    1. I’m a veterinarian, but I know a varmint when I see one. Having the rats this close to the house was brought home this morning when NBC ran a headline about a plague victim who got it from their dog who likely got it from a prairie dog.

      The second half is already written and set to be posted Sunday morning!


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