Who Has Roof Rats? I Have Roof Rats

Posted: June 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

So, over the past few months, we have heard birds in our chimney, knocking noises all over the house, and seemingly bad odors (ok, we found out later that those were our own odors).   We called an “animal recovery specialist”.  Isn’t that a nice name for a guy who comes over and kills your annoying vermin?

The birds are in the chimney because they have evidently built a nest.  Our builder, Alfred Greenberg & Sons, who received a fortune of money to build our house, left off the all important chimney cap/screen.  Retail price; $25. Price to hear birds chirping at all hours…………..priceless.  Nice work, Alfred.  Hope you and the family are sleeping well since your retirement.

The fellow comes over and tells us that we have a bigger issue; we have “roof rats”.  I asked him to repeat this until I believe his news.   “Yes, sir, I have been in your neighborhood several times recently and roof rats seem to be a problem”.  Damn, that makes no sense.  Roof rats should not live in a clean upscale neighborhood like East Memphis.  Why? Our real estate taxes are sky high  and I do not know a gainfully employed roof rat.

Mr. Exterminator (blunt enough?) told us that the roof rat’s scientific name is Rattus rattus.   Makes me think that mother rats do a disservice by giving their babies the same first and last names.   Historically, they are associated with having spread the plague or black death during the Middle Ages.  Now, they have moved to East Memphis.   Damn, these things should get frequent flyer miles.   The roof rat is also known as the black rat, even though it is not necessarily black in color, but rather is usually dark brown (like it matters).   He tells us that the typical roof rat is between 13 to 18 inches long, including its tail.  No, no, other Bruce, don’t ask me about “13-18 inches long”.  Roof rats are sleek, slender, and agile. He said they have large ears, so at least I have something in common.  The other Bruce’s ears are in proportion to his body; mine are like elephant ears.  I was always kidded about  my ears since I was born.  This makes it especially hard to know that the invading species probably looks like me.

Mr. E told me that they generally only stay in the attic.   He would need to do a complete eradication program over a two day period, costing $2,600.  Great, next vacation will be pared down to an evening driving around the block.  So, I asked how these things get into such a clean house?  Mr. E. told us the following facts, which were very educational:

Roof rat droppings are long and cylindrical – important to know that they do not need fiber

Roof rats are nocturnal  – good to know they are up when I am sleeping and dreaming about creepy things

Roof rats can transmit diseases like the bubonic plague and typhus  – Nice, the 10 plagues may have finally come to my home

Roof rats will enter homes and buildings; they only need a hole the size of a quarter;  Alfred Greenberg…….thanks  again  for   building an expensive home with holes.

Roof rats are good climbers. They can climb walls and use utility lines and fences to travel from structure to structure – Nice to know that roof rats are fit and in shape;  I have to spend $40 per month for my fitness club membership.

Roof rats will nest in trees, woodpiles, garbage, and plants  –  Picky buggers, obviously these are not the ones we used to see in New York City which ate ALL matter.

Roof rats like high places, like attics, which are their preference – Thank God for small favors.

Roof rats do not burrow in the ground or swim – Too bad, I would have invited them to use our pool on Father’s Day had they asked.

Roof rats eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, pet food and invertebrates (spiders and worms, for example). They will also eat paper.   All these things exist in my house. They could have just come for dinner.

Female roof rats can each have up to four litters a year, each containing five to eight young. In urban areas where they have no natural predators, the survival rate of the babies is high – With college so expensive, why would they do this?

Yes, I am in a bad mood about spending $2,600 to eradicate our roof rats.  I am especially angry at them because I am so much bigger and smarter and stronger than they are, and they should have at least picked a good fight.

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