You’re the Dirty Rat that Ate my Fruit

Remy from Ratatouille: Cute.

Roof rats: NOT cute.

Fortunately the pic of this scary little critter came from Google, not my camera.  I did a little online research after my fourth spotting this morning of the UFO (unidentified furry object).

So far this UFO has only been seen in the morning running along the top slats of our backyard wooden fence.  It is furry, has a tail, and it’s so fast if I blink I’d miss it.  At first hope and denial let me think it could be a hamster, albeit a very large, overfed, mutant hamster.  But something less frightening than the creature responsible for carrying the bubonic plague and wiping out about half of Europe’s population.  It took them 150 years to recover from the devastation.

I wish I hadn’t Googled it.  What I found is sure to keep me up at night.  My UFO is probably a roof rat.  Nobody knows for sure how they came to Phoenix.  Maybe they stowed away in trucks, hidden in trash and plants.  What we do know is they are here to stay.  They like warm climates and it doesn’t get much warmer than Phoenix. Their name is a misnomer.  While they are good climbers and prefer high places like attics, they will live in plants and palm trees too, both of which I have in my backyard.

Here’s some scary facts: roof rats only need an opening the size of a quarter to get inside your house.  And they’re good at multiplying.  Females can have up to four liters a year with five to eight rat babies in each one.  The survival rate of their young is high since they have no natural predators in urban areas.

Roof rats will eat citrus fruit off the ground so you’re supposed to pick your ripe fruit and get rid of any that falls.  Uh oh, I’m sunk.  I always forget about the tree on the side of the yard where the dogs go to poop.  According to a website I read, I’m supposed to look for any hollowed-out fruit which would be a good sign there’s roof rats on the loose.  Scratching sounds in the roof or walls is also a good indication.  Let me tell you, the only pitter-patter of small feet I want to hear is from this little guy.

My rug rat. He’s starting to pull himself up. He’ll be walking before I know it.

Okay God, I will stop complaining about the ants if you get rid of this rat.

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