The first sign of trouble was when our lovely neighbor was packing up his boat to go home . "Hey there..." he seemed apprehensive and I got the sense bad news was coming. "I feel like I need to tell you..." he paused. "We have a rat or a mouse on board." He made a "sorry to be the bearer of bad news" face and I thanked him for the warning and bid him adieu. Rats are not an issue at this marina, there are marina cats everywhere and if a rat is found on a boat here - it's often brought from another place. Call me naive, but armed with this knowledge and a little of the "it won't happen to me" mentality, I didn't really consider his rat might become our rat. Unfortunately for us, that is precisely what happened.
For the record, I keep a very clean boat. All food is double bagged or in airtight containers. I wipe all counters with antibacterial surface spray multiple times a day. Floors are cleaned every couple days. I hand vacuum after every meal. I diffuse essential oil like a boss. Dishes are done immediately. No food is left out on counter. I have been told by more than a few people that I have OCD tendencies...Having three toddlers, however, means that no matter how hard I try to keep messes at bay, there's always a little morsel or two left up in the cockpit after any given outing. A nibble of cracker here, a piece of popcorn there... No doubt these little snacks are what lured our neighboring rat aboard, thus turning him into a resident. This is very, very bad for a plethora of reasons.
Not only do rats carry disease and are, in general, the physical manifestations of all things disgusting - they wreak a tremendous amount of havoc where they reside. They can destroy an astounding amount of property in a very short time. They have been known to critically damage infrastructure (by eating their way through integral pieces), sink boats (by chewing through essential hoses), and even start fires (by gnawing on wires, causing them to short). Yep. Despite what most people (who haven't had the pleasure of dealing with rats) think, a rodent's greatest weapon is not their significant 'ick factor', but their teeth. You see, one fun factoid about rats is that their beveled incisors, open-rooted and highly specialized for 'gnawing', never stop growing and in order to prevent themselves from getting 'long in the tooth' (literally), they must continuously chew and brux in order to keep their length at bay. What do they chew on you ask? Well, anything. Plastic hose, wire, and leather are all fair game. Just take a look at what our resident rat did to my favorite pair of (discontinued, formerly Grecian-style) sandals in a single evening:
|This was literally my favorite pair of "fancy" sandals. Gone. This means war!|
The next morning Scott emptied out our shoe cubby and we discovered that our rat does indeed love shoes. He ruined no fewer than four pairs. We cleaned out the locker, disinfected and Scott reconfigured our array of mouse traps because, prior to the shoe incident, we were pretty sure it was a mouse (which now seems so much less disgusting) and not a rat. I posted the shoe pic to our Facebook Page (to temper all the beautiful pictures of paradise I post!) and not only did our fans pretty much confirm the work was that of a rat, but that the traps we had set were not going to get him. Awesome.
Later that morning, I was walking down the dock with the girls, reeling from our morning of shoe destruction, when I noticed a man in dark shades walking down the dock with what appeared to be a rat trap in his had. Of course I stopped him. "Hi," I started, awkwardly. "Is that a rat trap you have?" I asked, hopeful. He looked at me, "Are you from the boat Asante?" He had the cool confidence of someone who eradicates vermin for a living. Confused, I replied that I was. "These are for you then, I hear you have a rat aboard. Bring me to the boat and let's see what we're dealing with."
I walked him down the dock, still confused at how he knew about our issue. "Did my husband call you?" I asked. "No, Brendan called me and told me to come down." Later that day I would see Brendan, the awesome marina manager here, and he would confirm that he saw my Facebook post and immediately called his guy to come help. I thanked him profusely, "It's what we do" he said with a smile (have I mentioned how much I love it here at Nanny Cay?). Anyway, I digress...
He came aboard, and after looking under a few floorboards and at some droppings gave his diagnosis: "You have a rat. But it's a small rat. A juvenile. And it's just one. Not a big problem..." he replaced a floorboard and started unwrapping the giant glue traps, "We will get him. We just need to be patient." I replied that I wasn't so sure how patient I could be, I mean - were my kids going to get diseased from this thing? "Only about one in a few hundred rats are actually diseased. If you get bit, that's bad - but as long as he's not in your food and contaminating what you eat...you're fine." He placed the glue traps strategically in a few areas we knew our rat had been, placed a glob of peanut butter in the big snap trap and stuck it in the bottom of garbage locker, aka "ground zero". He showed me how to work it, reminded me that it could break my finger, and said he'd check back in a few days.
That was a few days ago.
We still have not caught our rat. I've now moved from peanut butter to hard salami, which he appears to enjoy because he's been GETTING IT OUT OF THE TRAP. So I know he's still here despite the fact that I have not heard him or seen any signs of him since the shoe incident. But knowing he's here, living underneath us, and being all-too-aware of the damage that he is no doubt causing horrifies me. What if he chews through a thru-hull hose? What if he gnaws a hole in our propane line? So much about this keeps me awake at night. All the disinfecting of our bilge that has to happen, the fear of actually seeing him during my nightly bathroom break, the fact that we will probably be discovering his destruction for weeks and months to come...it. is. awful. The mind reels, and it's no fun.
But we'll get him, of that I am sure. If we could deal with (and successfully eradicate) cockroaches, we can deal with this stowaway. There's simply no other option.
Any ideas, tips and tricks are welcome! Stay tuned....
|The kids thoroughly enjoy checking the traps.|
|The grab a flashlight and demand, "Mouse! Mouse!" because they want see it. #parentsoftheyear|