Absence of Rats Isn’t Always a Good Thing

I was busily engaged in various tasks today, in and out, and so didn’t get around to feeding the sheep and horse until about 10 p.m. The chickens and ducks were fed before 8 p.m. while there was still sufficient light so that I could fill their water containers and gather eggs.

When I entered the feed room at 10 p.m., it was eerily quiet. No young rats were chasing each other around the room and rolling on the floor in noisy squabbles. No adult rats were running along the shelves squeaking and complaining about my disturbing them. There was absolute quiet, as though there were no rats in the building at all which was, unfortunately, completely untrue.

I’m not a rat hater, don’t get me wrong. I think that they’re cute with their little pop eyes, soft gray fur, and long tails. I don’t mind them at all when they’re out in the barn picking up spilled feed and providing food for the hawks and owls that hang around my place. If I find abandoned babies, I take care of them. If I find a rat trapped in distress, I help ’em out. I just don’t like them to be in my feed room trying to eat their way into storage bins and pooping on tools. That’s gotta stop. My plan on stopping it includes keeping the food supply in rat proof bins until they give up and move out elsewhere in their search for food.

So, why were the rats keeping unnaturally (for them) quiet? It wasn’t because of me by any means. I’m part of the scenery and, in fact, they squeak excitedly when they see me because they know I’m the feed provider and if I’m in a big hurry, I might drop some feed. (Yes, they do recognize me, as do the squirrels, chickens, sheep, horse, owls, hawks….) It certainly wasn’t because of the old cats meowing impatiently for their food outside the door. My old cats are too old, slow and lazy to even bother hunting for their food. Now they yowl impatiently for canned kitty food. *sigh* It has to be a snake in the building. The rats know.

Needless to say, I was very, very careful of where I put my hands and feet this evening. I did a quick glance overhead to make sure that no rat snake or rattle snake was going to drop on my head from above. I hate when that happens. I had seen one of these pygmy rattlers under the oak tree today when I was trimming weeds and picking up sticks prior to mowing. Its coloring fits right in with old downed branches! The one I examined this morning (from outside of striking distance!) had a large mouse-shaped bulge in the tummy.

I certainly wouldn’t want to reach my hand into a feed bin and grab hold of one of these bad boys, either.

I kinda hope the rats are back tomorrow night.


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    kcduffy said,

    Are these pictures of a snake you saw or clip art? I found a dead rat on my doorstep early last week…didn’t like it. Weird thing was, it wasn’t there when I took the trash bins out, it just sorta appeared after I fed the Calico mama & her kit, & Dog, the mangy tom. I don’t like rats, but snakes of the poisonous variety are MUCH worse.

  2. 2

    swampie said,

    Pictures from the snakes that are in Florida. I didn’t have my camera with me when I saw “my” snake, and he was sufficiently alarmed by me standing over him studying that he withdrew quickly into the azaleas. The top one is a pygmy rattler (in the azaleas), the bottom one an eastern diamondback. We also have canebrake rattlers around as well as water moccasins (which is why we filled in the pond).

    We don’t have nearly as many snakes (or other wildlife) as we used to. The new people moving in along this road aren’t much for living in harmony with nature (grin). The ducks and chickens also eat juvenile snakes.

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