If we’re friends on facebook, you no doubt know that I had a rat in my kitchen a couple of weeks ago. Yep, a rat. NOT a mouse. What’s the difference?, you might ask, as I did. First, a rat is not just a big version of a cute fluffy little mouse. They are part of the same rodent family, and while size DOES matter between these two little pests, it goes much further than that. Not only do rats burrow further to nest, have much bigger droppings and actually leave visible traces of their travels, they are smarter and more aggressive than mice.
The droppings were the first things that tipped me off about a rat in my kitchen. I was so annoyed! I clean them up and thought, oh well, he’ll go away. But he didn’t. Then, I noticed that I could hear him rustling around in the kitchen, so I promptly closed the door to the kitchen and kept it closed, except when I needed to get in there. At such a time, I would knock on the door to let the little nasty thing know to run and hide, and he would. Stupidly enough, after a friend of mine came over very late one night and helped me set up traps–none of which caught the rat–I thought he was gone, again.
Then I saw him.
First, it was just his tail as he escaped my hand reaching for a towel under the sink. Then, as I bravely stood on the countertop with a broom in my hand and opened the door to the cabinet, I saw his beady little eyes. Still, I didn’t know it was a RAT, I thought it was a mouse. Then something happened I didn’t expect. Since rats are aggressive, he jumped out of the cabinet and ran, fast, ending up under the fridge. HE WAS HUGE. I screamed, jumped into the cardboard box I had waiting for me, and scooted out of the kitchen as fast as I could, leaving rat and all behind.
The next morning I wake to find dusty little footprints (the travel trail) all over my toaster. My plan to starve him out was working. I hid all my food where he couldn’t get it, I just forgot to hide the toaster. The next night, I hid the toaster and he decided the solid wood of the kitchen door seemed appetizing. He tried to escape out the balcony door once, until I surprised him and I saw him flipping in the air to land on the floor with a thud, and run under the oven.
FINALLY, after almost a WEEK of waiting on the university housing people to give a damn, I found rat poison. It was a God send. I poisoned some food, he ate it, and that was the end of him. Psh. Rats are supposed to be smart. Another friend of mine, who was waiting at my apartment for the exterminators who never showed (it’s Egypt, after all), found the dead rat under my sink and threw him away for me. The saga had ended—for me.
Two days later, another new faculty member at AUC mentioned HE had a rat. I gave him my rat poison, but he chose instead to construct a maze to get his rat out. I suppose that works, but I’m not that brave.
I guess you can have mice, rats, or household pests anywhere in the world, but there’s something about a rat in Egypt that just creeps me the heck out. I’m sure I’ll have to deal with it again, but I’ve found I’m in good company. A number of my colleagues and friends here have experience with rats, and most of the men are just as scared as I was.
Even Indiana Jones had a fear: snakes; and his Dad did too. Rats.