Finding Stubbs: A Rat Tail; the Finale

I’ll admit it, by this point I had kind of resigned myself to growing old with Stubbs.

At this point, I no longer believed I could catch this little furry Mother%$#&*^. I was now just trying to mitigate my damages. On the advice of one friend, I bought predator eyes, a little black box with flashing red lights that “will be seen as a predator to the pest. Predators that hunt at night share a fear of being watched or discovered and will flee or avoid the area.”

It worked on the rats bothering her outdoor hot tub. Stubbs was seen on video sauntering up and sniffing the danged thing. Then I bought a spikey scat mat that supposedly would be uncomfortable for Stubbs to walk on to keep him off my counter tops!

…..he ate it.

I tried bird spikes under my counter overhangs so he wouldn’t have a safe place to creep; they were found shoved aside in the morning. I hung bird tape around my plants to “scare” him, and he scoffed as he munched on my violet blooms.

Scents were no problem for our rat; he crossed lines of Peppermint, Eucalyptus and Citronella without a care in the world.

I wanted Stubbs dead, and this urge started a debate between me and my more Buddhist other. His philosophy was if we killed him in a trap, so be it, but if we managed to live trap this furry fiend, he would drive him somewhere remote and let him go.

My thoughts, aside from bloody revenge, were that the Norway Rat is an invasive species damaging to this ecosystem and the native species who live here. They are here, but they do not belong here and should be exterminated whenever possible to limit their damage to the creatures and plants that do belong here.

The debate raged on and it was clear whoever got a chance first would do what their philosophy drove them to do.

Enter my savior, Holly. I had complained about having The Ratinator out for weeks and not getting Stubbs on Facebook, and this was her advice to me-

“It can be extremely hard. Usually, you must bait the trap super heavily, so they get used to it. Spread chicken feed, cat food, boss, corn, dog food, all over and in the trap. Make it a feast. After 10-13 days, of slowly decreasing to just filling the trap floor and catch area so they have to enter with the door tied open, then at the end of 14 days, cut the wire holding it open…..Really bait the poop out of it.”

I put the trap on an old greasy pizza box and started the process of finding Stubbs food Kryptonite. My first success was a small piece of stale cornbread. While the camera didn’t pick it up, it had been moved. I KNEW IT! Alas, subsequent pieces were then rejected. I did as I was told, baited the poop out of the trap and screeched if anyone tried to touch it with their, horrors, human hands!

I got lots of video of Stubbs checking out the trap but none of him going in. I even caught him somehow loosening a piece of wire and sticking his paw in to snatch treats! Finally, after nine days, I hit on the thing that made him go into the trap. Cayenne pepper treated birdseed designed to be unpalatable to mammals, of course.

Doing as I was told, over the course of the next five or six days I made the pile of seeds more central in the trap and farther away from the entrance. When he had three consecutive days of moving far into the trap, I untied the door and hoped.

The first night the seesaw door spooked him, and he ran away. The next night he pushed it down a little before running away. On the third night he sat on the seesaw to munch. Arg! I pushed the pile further in with fresh spicy seeds and said a prayer to Mother Nature that this would be enough.

That night about 3 am I woke to use the bathroom and, as was now my habit, looked at the Blink app on my phone. HE WAS IN THE TRAP! He was also actively trying to figure out how to get out of the trap!


I ran downstairs in my birthday suit, SURPRISE you rat *&(%, danced around the trap, possibly taunted the little bugger a bit before dropping him in the tray that comes with the trap to prevent him from escaping. Yes, this was all on video, and yes, it has since been deleted.

Elated, I went back to bed. Rat murder in my birthday suit at 3 am didn’t seem all that palatable at the time. When I awoke later that day, Mark had done his Buddhist thing and driven Mr. Stubbs way out the Middlefork and let him go.

Do I agree with that outcome? No. Will I have words with Mark if a rat with a short tail shows up on my house cameras again? Yes. After I pack my things and burn the whole place down. That’s the stuff horror movies are made of and I want no part of it. I’m leaving my cameras up a little bit longer just in case….

[Thank you so much Holly!]

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  • I had a Norway rat get *into* my suet feeder through that tiny space at the top barely 3/4″ wide. He made a feast of all the suet he could eat–and then couldn’t get out. He got trapped by his gluttony and he ended up not making it out. I ended up throwing the suet feeder away because I wasn’t going to deal with removing a dead rat stuck in it.

  • What a well-written, and dare I say, “entertaining?”, saga, Melissa! I’ve shared houses with cats most my life, so have had few (actually, none) in-house encounters with live rodents. However, a long while back, we discovered that a family of mice had set-up house keeping in a pantry. They had shredded table cloths and linens we kept in a basket in the back on the pantry floor. Our guest linens were now guest nests. Disgusted, I put Fatso, our huge (not actually fat) orange cat in the pantry, and closed him in for several minutes. Then I opened the door, and talked to him about what I wanted to happen, and that I would leave the pantry open that night. In the morning, early, a blood-curdling scream came from the youngest of three nephews that were living with us at the time. On his pillow was a dead mouse. My other two nephews were laughing at him when they discovered that they had likewise been gifted, as had my son. Downstairs, the pantry was strewn with mouse bodies and body parts. Fatso, who would catch and eat rabbits, was quite the hunter, and always happy to take care of problems, including moles who made a mistake of making mounds in the yard. Of course, now my cats are indoors-only, so we leave it to the local coyotes and bobcats to police the rodent and lagomorph populations outside the house. In family lore, the night Fatso cleared the pantry is known as “the great mouseacre.”
    Your story, Melissa, is a tribute to your and Mark’s decision to not put persistent poisons into the environment. Mark’s decision in the long run has no impact, because if there is already a rat population, one more does not matter. If there is not a population, one, alone, does not matter. Stubbs has a whole new set of problems to solve: owls, coyotes, bobcats, foxes, exposure. Perhaps he can find and join a beaver community to live out his lonely life. Thank you again for this entertaining saga. I hope you do not have to relive it in the future.

  • Living Snoqualmie