Tuesday, June 21, 2011

In which I use the rat word a lot. It's icky. Don't say you weren't warned.

If you live in DC, you know about the rats.

Particularly if you live near restaurants, oh, do you know about the rats.

The rats of DC, some of them are as big as cats. And they're not afraid. If you happen to cross paths with one, the rat will give you a cursory glance, yawn, scratch its ass, light a cigar, and waddle on its merry way.

We regularly have rats in the alley. If you're sitting on the back deck, you can hear them squeaking and rustling.

So about a month ago, our downstairs tenant Stacey told Nick that she thought that the guys working at our house had banged into her mint and basil and chopped them off.

Nick immediately said to me, "I don't want to say this, but I'm going to bet that rats ate her plants."

We like Stacey and her boyfriend (and their dogs) a lot, so on the chance that it wasn't rats but rather Hector Bigwood and his accomplice, Nick brought it up with the builder. Whose guys said no, they hadn't banged into the plants.

And then a couple days ago, we got an email from Stacey, which said: You were right.

She'd planted more basil, mint, and parsley and set the pots outside.

The rats ate the basil and the mint. They left the parsley.

This is the final straw for Nick. We can't use rat poison because we don't want to endanger the dogs. He's searching around for those big old-fashioned rat traps.

So gross all around.


  1. Who knew rats were picky about parsley!

  2. Thank goodness for the dogs, b/c if I ever saw one in my fruit basket, I would no longer live in DC. You would be looking for new tenants!

    And yes, Jennie, who knew?! I never knew they were so keen on Basil!

  3. On the LG scale, it's my opinion this post is not that icky.

    I saw a rat when I was in DC last Fall and I'm pretty sure a cigar was dangling from its mouth.

    Sorry about the rats in the alley. I'm confident Nick will find a solution and the commentary will be hilarious. -HK

  4. Scary. We have cute little mice here in MN. I actually saw one in my kitchen for the first time last week and wanted to pick it up and take it for a pet, but then it ran under the stove.

  5. Even rats know that parsley is a garnish, not a food.

    I don't want to think about emptying those rat traps. I turn into a scared little girl when my cute little MN mice get caught in traps here. (Why dead mice are scary, I'm not sure.)

  6. We've had good luck with the Rat Zapper, the old fashioned break the neck kind, sticky traps and a kitten we found in a ditch. Cats wake up thinking of murder :-)The kitten brought me a mouse within two weeks of being here and he could barely walk with it. Haven't had a mouse since. We used peanut butter for bait b4 the cat came to live here. Poison is bad cause they crawl in to places and stink for a loooong time.

    Good Luck!

  7. I saw a rat knitting a sweater behind my building in DC a few years ago :)

  8. In defense of the honor of cigar smokers everywhere, I must correct you as I am fairly certain that rats smoke Newports.

  9. I once lived in a place on Harvard Street that had a kitchen that had to be over a rat burial site. The smell was so wretched I never went in. I paid rent there but lived just about permanently at my boyfriend (now husband's) place.
    Also, I shared a floor with a heroin addict who vomited and shit all over the bathroom one night - floors, walls, toilet, shower. I'm talking ALL OVER THE BATHROOM.
    That place was a hot mess!

  10. We are in full-on battle mode against the moles 'round here. Little bastards. We have some fairly vicious-looking scissor traps doing the job. Fortunately, smooshed moles aren't really that icky, or maybe I'm just bloodthirsty enough not to care anymore. Good luck with an ick-free rat trapping campaign!

    P.S. Dana - that truly is icky!

  11. Jennie - I think it's as Alex said - they know it's a garnish! :)

    Stacey - I cannot imagine the horror of a rat in the fruit basket. I'd be sorry to see you go.

    HK - I am not surprised. You can't be in DC and not see a rat.

    And you make a good point - I've written about much ickier things. They just don't gross ME out the way rats do, I think.

    Frugal Vegan Mom - Cute until they chew through your electrical wires and you have to get new appliances. This happened to a friend of mine.

    Alex - Hahaha - I'm sure you're right!

    And rodents are scary. They just are.

    Lynn - Nick said he ordered a very expensive electrocution kind of one that was highly recommended. The whole idea icks me.

    Lynn - Hahaha! Probably for fashion rather than warmth.

    restaurant refugee - As you're a cigar smoker, I defer to you on this.

    Dana - That is the most horrifying story. Horrifying.

    Keenie Beanie - I think my mom put bubble gum down the mole holes. Not sure if that worked, though.

  12. Lisa,
    We had rats in the backyard last summer and they were slowly doing in our brick patio--tunnels underneath. Someone installed those black rat traps in which they go in and eat the bait and die someplace else. Now that we know what they are, the traps, we see them all over DC. Between the traps and not filling the bird feeders they are gone. We still have two of those traps in the back yard and if you would like to have them I'll send posthaste with Betty.

  13. We lived in DC for three years and those rats are one of the things I was happy to bid adieu! We lived in a basement apt in NW and we had to walk in the alley to get to our entrance. As a DC newbie I thought I was about to get killed by pyscho each time I heard the alley rustling. The only psycho was King Kong Rat who was more interested in the trash goodies than anything else.

    Great site - I found you via Keenie Beanie


  14. ick. ick. This made me shudder. We got mice once and they were pretty small and I was grossed out for weeks. I pretended the rats didn't exist when I lived in DC. Except for those two times I almost stepped on one. gross.

  15. 1. I can't believe there are Norwegian rats. Norwegians are clean!

    2. I guess I won't complain about the field mice in my garage anymore. Rats are SO MUCH ICKIER.

  16. Guess what? They ate the parsley. Nothing is sacred.

  17. I was just going to suggest that you plant a perimeter of parsley around the house to keep the rats out but clearly it is too late for that. Good luck with the traps!


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