There’s a rat in me garage. What I’m a gonna do?

I smell a rat.

Okay, I actually don’t smell him, but I have come face to face with him in my garage. He’s actually a kind of handsome fellow, as rats go. But he’s still a rat, and so he has to go.

About ten days ago, I walked into my garage one night and heard the sound of nervous scurry when I turned on the light.  We’ve been in this house for two years and I’ve never heard nervous scurry in my garage.  Well, maybe a couple of times from my kids, but they are larger and usually easy to spot right away.  The scurrying I heard on this occasion remained unseen.

I tried not to give it much thought, though I was slightly concerned.  In addition to the two years spent at this house, I had never heard scurrying in my garage during the eight years we spent at our previous home.  I’ve heard scurrying in our back yard.  Just a couple of months ago, we had a couple of possums take shelter during the day under the deck that elevates us about 12 to 18 inches in the back yard.  That leaves just enough room, it turns out, for two angry possums to make really hideous noises while going at it in the middle of the night (turns out they only play possum with OTHER species.  My dog, Georgie, found one on our back lawn one night and was barking up a storm.  I went to see what she was barking at and there was the long-nosed, whiskered beast just sitting there, not moving, waiting for the storm to pass.  Or to get eaten.  Whichever comes first.  BUT – when it comes to confrontation with its own kind?  Then it’s go time, baby).  But I knew the scurrying in my garage wasn’t a possum.  He wouldn’t have moved, opting instead to just stare at me hoping not to get eaten.

A couple of night’s later I heard the scurrying again.  This time it was close.  I shook the shelf near the sound and could see the quick flash of rat tail dart behind the water heater.  I avoided the impulse to let out a womanly scream (I’m not casting a stereotypical judgement on women, here.  It’s just that, well….okay, maybe I am) and considered my next move.  Did I really want to engage in rat warfare right now?  Did I really want this thing running across my flip-flop adorned feet as I shove a wiffle ball bat under the water heater to try to drive him out?  And then what?  My garage is, um, less than tidy.  He could go hide anywhere.  Am I about to undergo a major garage overhaul at 10pm just to try to locate him?  At that moment, Georgie came bounding through her dog door to investigate the sound that she had also heard, but not seen.  I decided that leaving them to play was as good a next move as any.

The next couple of nights, I would notice Georgie suddenly burst from her pillow and out into the garage from time to time.  It was never accompanied by the kind of barking she angrily threw at the possum, but it was usually followed by the sound of her making quick sprints and pauses back and forth in the darkness.  I assumed it was the dirty rat that drew her attention.  And, given the lack of aggressive barking, I had no choice but to also assume she had made friends with it.  Great.

A couple of nights later, I turned on the garage light and again heard Georgie’s new best friend move to take cover.  I looked to the wire storage rack on my right and noticed a grainy, almost sandy looking powder scattered on a small stack of paper plates on one of the shelves.  Continuing to survey the scene, I noticed on the shelf just above the plates was a bag of chocolate chip scone mix. Two large holes had been chewed into it.  My rat has a taste for scones.  This made him somewhat more pretentious to me, but also more likeable.

Suddenly, I could see the rat tail behind the leg of a storage rack, moving slightly.  As I looked down at Mr. Rat’s rear appendage, I noticed his head poking around the other side of the leg staring up at me.  In that moment, he didn’t strike me as particularly hideous or disease ridden.  In fact, he was kind of endearing.  His hair (fir? fuzz? What do rats have?) was a soft brown.  His eye color seemed to match.  As they looked up at me, he seemed to be communicating a gentle apology.  “Sorry ’bout the scone business, govenuh.  I felt a rumbly in muh tumbly and just popped up on to the shelf for a quick nibble”.  It turns out that Mr. Rat is English.

But, he’s still a rat and he has to go.  I’m pretty sure my wife isn’t interested in housing a politely pretentious, scone eating, British rat in the garage, no matter how apologetically he looked at me.  So, I gathered up the scone mix and paper plate leftovers and discarded them.

During this entire episode, I couldn’t get the UB40 song, “Rat In Me Kitchen”, out of my head.  The “rat” in this song is figurative, and the singers decides he is going to have to “fix that rat”.  My fear with the literal Mr. Rat was that eliminating his food supply wouldn’t be enough to chase him away and I might have to take more drastic measures to “fix that rat”.  But, over the next couple of nights, Georgie’s sudden sprints to the garage stopped.  And earlier today, I started cleaning out the garage.  Not once did I hear an unexpected scurry or see any signs (poop) of Mr. Rat’s having been there.  It looks like he has moved on to satisfy his taste for english pastries.

I’m actually thankful for my brief encounter with Mr. Rat, if only because it renewed my interest in previously mentioned UB40 song, which came out during the back half of my senior year of high school.  Very few people think of that song when thinking of UB40, but it’s always one of the first I think of (after “Red, Red Wine” of course).  I found it strangely engaging  and the timing of its release makes it even more endearing for me personally.  And now, it will remind me of the brown-haired Mr. Rat; friend to dogs, purveyor of scones. Godspeed, Mr. Rat.  Watch out for cats.

Click below to enjoy UB40’s “Rat In Me Kitchen”



~ by themattmorrisshow on May 20, 2012.

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