Thursday, April 16, 2020

I Smell a Rat...

Image by SARA REESE from Pixabay
Rats have a very keen sense of smell. Rats in Africa have been trained to sniff out landmines and tuberculosis. Queen Rat has had a remarkable sense of smell, even as a child. Often, this ability to smell food from afar, resulted in her being referred to as Yogi Bear.  Remember his most famous line, “I smell a pic-a-nic basket!?”

This sense of smell has not diminished over the years. It is a blessing when in a garden or bakery, and a curse when behind a car with smokers or in a crowd of the great unwashed. Remember the 1990s and all the perfume? Toxic to a rat with allergies.

A few weeks ago, Queen Rat’s nose detected a foul smell in the laundry room. It smelled a bit like backed up sewage or something decaying. King Rat was called in to assess the situation. “It is natural gas,” he replied with confidence.

“I know the smell of natural gas. This is the smell of something dead,” Queen Rat countered.

“Nope. Natural gas.”

Later in the week while working on the patio near the exterior dryer vent, Queen Rat’s sniffy sense was alerted once again. “I smell something dead near the dryer vent.”

“Natural gas,” replied King Rat dismissively.

About ten days later, Queen Rat spotted a huge fly in the house. “How did we get a fly? The house is closed up tight, and this is not fly season?”

King Rat dispensed with the fly using his favorite toy, the battery operated fly swatter from Harbor Freight. It electrocutes the insect upon contact. Nothing is more joyous than sparking a yellow jacket to death.

Yesterday, Queen Rat was doing laundry. Wet laundry in hand, she opened the dryer and was set upon by a swarm of flies. It was like a bad horror movie. Mere words cannot describe the experience.

Queen Rat has watched enough detective show to know that maggots eat dead bodies and then develop into flies about ten days later. “THERE IS SOMETHING DEAD IN THE DRYER VENT!!!” Queen Rat retreated to the safety of the main house.

King Rat reluctantly reopened the dryer door and released the remaining flies. He vacuumed the lint from the outside vent, then disassembled the dryer connection. Nothing in the vent. He removed the vertical metal pipe that went straight up from the bottom of the dryer to the opening higher up the wall only to discover the remains of a chipmunk. He surreptitiously carried the cadaver to the final resting spot in the trash can, knowing that Queen Rat would not want to bear witness.

“Well? What did you find?”

“You were right. There was a dead chipmunk. I didn’t want to tell you” he offered sheepishly.

“Because I was right or because it was a cute little chipmunk?”

Being the wise rat he is, King Rat just smiled and said, “Yes.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Looking a Little Ratty?

Image by fashionate from Pixabay 
Rats are fastidious groomers. In fact, they often groom more frequently than cats. They will often groom other rats. Rats have even been known to set hairstyle trends. Do you remember the rattail hairstyle trend in the 80s? It was a short haircut, but at the nape of the neck, a tail was left. Some were very skinny, some were fat and they came in different lengths.

In these “Stay at home, stay safe” times, many of us are missing our groomers. We are beginning

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Rat-ional Thinking

Maddy Mazur- Pixabay
Rats are flourishing during the Coronavirus. Our behavior patterns have changed and it has affected rats. They don’t complain or worry, they just adapt. (Yahoo/BBC New Article)

As we are self-quarantining these days, it is easy to become a bit stir-crazy. We need to adapt.

Without our regular routines and social interactions, many of us

Monday, April 6, 2020

Rats Do This Up to 30 Times a Day!

Jasmin_Sessler - Pixabay

What were you thinking?

Rats can drop 10-30 turds a day.  We all poop. Some, more than others. Hopefully, none of us as often as rats! Since rats have firm, clean pellet-like poop, they have no need to wipe. Most humans are not so blessed hence, the need for toilet paper.

The media keep reassuring us that we do not have a TP shortage. Then why are the shelves empty? Hoarders are making it difficult for everyone. Supposedly, it is human nature to hoard TP in times of crisis, because it gives us a feeling of control.  No matter how bad things get, at least we have toilet paper!

It used to be that most households would have a 4-pack or maybe even a 6-pack in the closet to supply all the bathrooms in the house. This seemed like plenty. Then along came Costco, the land of 30-48 super-sized rolls per case. Rolls so large, that the first sheets off the roll require deft maneuvering to get them off the normal-sized holder. Rolls equal to two TP rolls of yore.

As we peel the last shredded square, exposing the naked brown cardboard tube, we being to panic. We dash to the closet and survey the stash.  We only have one case! Add that to the shopping list! Plan the next Costco run as we only have 29-47 rolls in reserve.  Crazy, right?

Recently, on a NYC subway ride, we sat across from a man with one roll of toilet paper nestled in a sack between his feet. After he left, we had quite the conversation. Who buys a single roll of toilet paper? Did he not have storage space? Could he only afford one roll? Was he trying to quit?

Nothing else can replace toilet paper. Technically, it is toilet tissue. Thin tissue paper. It is made to dissolve quickly. This is important for the health of your house’s plumbing. Facial tissue (aka Kleenex), paper towels, and so-called “flushable” wipes are not made to dissolve quickly, but they can quickly clog and back up plumbing. Check out this video from “Adam Ruins Everything”. These wipes are causing major clogs (called “fatbergs”) in plumbing systems everywhere.

There are varying grades of toilet tissue. At the low end, institutional tissue is usually 1-ply. It is supposedly cheaper, but given that one needs three times as much to do half the job, I question that premise. I remember one kind our school district used actually had visible wood fibers. Maybe they assumed the threat of sphincter splinters would discourage waste. High-end tissue can have as many as 3-ply with clouds, ripples, or squeegees.

Most tissue is made from non-recycled wood fiber which is crazy to think that we are clearing forests to clean our rears. Recycled pulp tissue hasn’t ranked high on the toilet tissue scale. It isn’t soft, doesn’t have pillows, but it does dissolve quickly...sometime in your hand.

How to avoid all this ecological devastation, plugged plumbing and TP tension? I give you...the bidet.
Bidets come in all sizes shapes and iterations. From the Japanese TOTO which has warm water, warm air, and soothing music, to the Turkish water jug for rinsing, to the easy-install toilet seat bidet.

Think about it. If you got fecal matter on your arm, would you wipe it off with a dry paper towel and call it good? How is cleaning your rear any different?

Bidets supply a clean water rinse to your nether regions that enable a thorough gentle clean to which no TP can compare. (Wiki How provides instructions on how to use various types of bidets.) The $30 toilet seat models that can be ordered online enable human rats to achieve a glorious level of clean with minimal use of TP and no need for a costly nonflushable-flushable wipe. Once adapted to the bidet, TP use will seem as barbaric as it actually is.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Creatures of Habit

Image: Engin_Akyurt Pixabay
Rats are creatures of habit. Whether in the wild or as pets, they have patterns of behavior. Grooming, cleaning the nest, foraging for food, exercise and sleep are regular parts of a rat’s day. They are industrious and curious.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Still Just a Rat in a Cage...

The Rat Wants Out” by donjd2
Licensed under CC BY 2.0

I am really not a fan of Smashing Pumpkins, but their song "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" comes to mind on this, the fortyteenth day of quarantine, in Marpril. The lyric "Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage" is completely apropos.

The first week wasn't bad at all. We had a massive yard project and it was warm and sunny. We ended each day too tired to move and no interest in the news. Just some BritBox streaming and sleeves of Oreos.