I Smell a Rat!

Rat by Jo. Marshall on Flickr.

Click picture to learn more about the photographer.

No, literally.

We have an unwanted houseguest. And he’s fearless.

But he’s kinda irresistible. Even Honey likes him.

Mr. Rat, Welcome To Your New Home

My Ithaca neighborhood is very welcoming to rats:

  • Everyone has a compost pile.
  • The houses are old and full of gaps.
  • People use birdseed on icy sidewalks to prevent slipping.
  • Every fourth person is a vegetarian or vegan.

Oh, and some of us have Golden Retrievers with a very low prey drive.

When Mr. Rat wants a snack, he doesn’t roam in the walls. He goes right down the steps. And Honey just watches him.

Who’s Smarter, A Dog or a Rat?

Animal Planet thinks rats are smarter than dogs.

I’m starting to wonder if I should try clicker training him.

So far, he’s eluded two types of non-lethal traps. We have a new one arriving any day.

And if we do catch him, should we relocate him far from the house? Or just get him neutered so Honey has a friend?

How do you manage critters? Does your dog or cat help?



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  1. We had mice in the RV this past summer. Roxy ignored them, Torrey would listen to them running in the vents. Good luck with the rat.

  2. We always relocated them when we could! Good luck! I hope he creates the vacancy before his friends move in and start a (f)rat party at your house. lol If my husband found a rat here, he’d have us packed up and moved in a matter of minutes!

  3. Relocate FAR away! They find their way back. :-( They are very dirty too. Good luck with capturing him.

  4. We once had a terrier mix with a very high prey drive. She spent a whole day once waiting for a chipmunk to come out from under the stove. Finally we had to move the stove, she jumped in there and with one bite broke it’s neck. She dropped it on the floor and walked away! Maybe Honey wants a brother or sister? :)
    Our current dogs (goldens and beagles) don’t have much interest, but our beagle Kobi did drop a (dead) mouse in front of me once, but I think it was a joint effort between him and one of the cats!

  5. Trap, neuter, release for rats! That’s a new one!
    We haven’t seen any little critters around, but I’ve been worried since we started feeding the birds. We have a really old house too, and our backyard borders a ravine with a brook….and we have a golden with a low prey drive! So conditions are ripe!

    We do have snakes in the spring, and sadly nothing has worked to relocate them.

  6. That’s King Rat. Hope his subordinates will not follow, you’ll soon have a party!

  7. Ew. We have had rats in our garage before, but never our house (I think it helps to have 3 cats!). They chewed holes in every single one of my dog walking coats when I was a dog walker (that’s what I get for leaving treats in my pockets!) and made a nest in the air filter of our car.

    You could always get a cat :) good luck with your rodent!!

  8. LOL – only you (well, and maybe Kristine) would think of clicker training your rat. rofl

    I think I’ve told you we have mice. We live in the woods, it’s inevitable. We move them but others just move in after them. We consider it the “Circle of Life in the Woods”.

    Bella’s afraid of them. She growls at bears, is afraid of mice. :rollseyes: Oh Bella.

  9. Hello! I came over from ‘Tales and Tails’ and I’ve enjoyed my visit! I think I’ll leave a trail of crumbs to find my way back! :-)

    I also can identify with this post–We have a house full of Goldens who would look at a rat as a great new friend! But we do have a Scottie that always lets me know when we have mice, moles, etc., around the outside that he would love the chance to get to make a chew-toy out of–So far, he hasn’t, but we try to relocate them to a neighboring field when we can. Good luck with this unwelcomed new visitor!

  10. What I usually find in the house are lizards and I’m OK with them. They eat any flying things that find their way in, don’t make a mess and stay out of the kitchen. Gizmo ignores them entirely preferring to concentrate his interest in dogs that are walking by across the street. Haven’t had a mouse or rat here (yet?)

  11. Good luck with the rat training!

  12. I have rats in my basement. They come and go, and we know they’re around when Our Best Friend (who has a HUGE prey drive) goes berserk at the walls. They sometimes escape upstairs, which is a very big deal as no one wants rats in the bedroom or kitchen.

    Our traps have killed some, which makes me cry every time, and once we got a live one, which I released out back. And OBF has killed at least two with his bare paws, which is REALLY disgusting.

    I am now faced with a HUGE bill to fix the “backflow valves” to keep the rats out of the basement, plus cleaning up the mess they have made in various crawlspaces. Pamela, as a real estate expert, do yourself and the value of your house a favour: EVICT THEM. Nicely, humanely, but with all due speed.

  13. My cat considers himself to be a pretty fierce hunter and he is not wrong. Many years ago he once got out for several days and brought home with him a small owl as a present. It was pretty tragic. While I am not a fan of him killing other animals, it does mean our house will always be rodent free. Besides, whatever the cat happens to miss our dog would scare away. She is a terrible hunter but her prey drive is probably pretty terrifying.

    I hear rats do make great pets! I don’t know that I’d recommend turning a wild rat into one, however… Good luck catching him!

  14. Oh my. I would love to send you my lab. He is high prey drive and dug up and killed a mole last summer! I didn’t even know one was in our yard. :/

  15. From reading your comments, I am definitely a city person. Lizards, rats, yuk. I would be scared out of my wits if I saw one in my apartment. I’m with your husband, houndstooth, I’d be packed and out.

    When there was underground construction there were mice in the building for a while. I had two or three. Of course I had two cats who would catch them, bat then around, and kill them. They left the mouse where I would see it and sat there so proud of themselves. I ran for the porter to get rid of it.

    I offered to rent my cats. No one took me up on it.
    Good luck with your rat. I would get rid of it quickly, many of them are rabid.

  16. oh my goodness how adorable.. I’m not much for rats, but that one is cute. =^..^=

  17. As long as they don’t come inside, we don’t worry about critters like mice, rats, or squirrels/chipmunks. Our 3 furkids have fun chasing the squirrels in the yard. The only critters we do anything about are the insect variety. That’s when I call our friends at Terminix.

  18. You could always just get a cat. Instant vermin control and you never know how it was done.

  19. My dogs would be quite happy to dispatch a rat, esp. Jimmy. Small critters don’t last long if he gets them. Both my guys have a strong prey drive, but squirrels and rabbits still frequent our yard regularly. The bunnies are even dumb enough to nest in our yard. Their young don’t often reach adulthood :-(

  20. I have kept pet rats periodically over the years (usually males that were castrated, never spayed the girls) and find them to be very affectionate and social if handled properly and daily. They get lonely quickly and will bond with anyone… even dogs. That said I’ve never had the urge to adopt a wild one. Trapping one might not do you any good since they do live in colonies (like people ;-D). Have you thought about a sonic repellent? It’s a little device you plug in that emits a sound especially geared to irritate mice and rats. I honestly don’t know if the rat version would effect a dog but I do know most other species specific don’t and that they work. I had one for insects when I lived in a dump of an apartment building to prevent fleas. I never had an issue with any insects and very few spiders. Just a thought.

  21. Clicker training – you made me laugh SO HARD! We have a ton of mice in the yard. I can’t put poison out because of my chickens and ducks. And something rather large is burrowing under the house. Of you figure out what to do, let me know? Neutering isn’t a bad idea. Though, I have seen my chickens kill and eat mice …

  22. If you chose relocate….take him miles and miles and a river away, because they always, always return home.


  23. My cats are the locator and my dog Malarkey is the exterminator if any critter decides to come in from the outside. They tag team it.

    Here’s a trap that worked for catching my hamster I had when I was younger. It also worked when my science teacher lost their pet hamster in their car. Take on of those tall metal popcorn cans, place it in a location where Mr rat can enter it easily and put birdseed or anything else he might find very appealing leading up to the can and then in the can. Use small amounts leading up so he doesn’t stuff himself. Hopefully, he will decide to go into the can to get the food inside, but won’t be able to climb out because the sides are too slippery. I would take him very far away and be real cautious. Rats can carry leptospirosis which can affect both people and dogs, so I do anything I can to discourage them from taking up residence in my yard and home.

  24. I have a pet rat… well it’s cuter than that rat because wild rats are kinda ugly in my opinion. (sorry mr. rat!) As for whether or not they are smarter than dogs, I don’t know but they are probably pretty close. They are loyal and attached to their owners just like dogs. They can do tricks with clicker training. Too bad they only live to be about 2 years old. :( That’s the only part I don’t like about them!

  25. Aw heck. I say neuter him and keep him as a friend for Honey. I would love to see a video of you click training with him too. C’mon Pamela! You know you want to do it! :)

  26. Why would someone use bird seed for traction on a side walk? It’s pretty expensive and the old style kitty litter is way cheaper. Dexter has a very high prey drive so if we did have a rat in the house, it wouldn’t be there for very long 😀