Wanted: A Canine Who Can Smell the Rats Visiting Us From Sunset Cliffs

by on October 10, 2022 · 21 comments

in Ocean Beach

This image has absolutely nothing to do with Judi’s post except it’s a dog in a wanted poster.

By Judi Curry

In today’s world there is much going on that does not cause laughter. Well, of course, there are many different kinds of laughter, some of which is fun, some of which is nasty, some of which is sarcastic, etc.

I might have a little bit of laughter for YOU – (certainly not for me.) Here is my story.

Several years ago I wrote an article for the OB Rag about the new residents of Ocean Beach/ Pt. Loma.  Namely the rats were moving in. And I don’t mean the two legged kind – I mean the true, four-legged rats.  At times one could stand on Sunset Cliffs Blvd and watch the rats run across the street.  That was then.  Let me get you current.

Those damn rats found that Sunset Cliffs and its environs were a perfect place to raise their families, and so they invited many more of their species to join them along the beautiful cliffs.  But what frequently happens to these beautiful areas, it became overcrowded, and the rats decided they needed to move inland.  Not far inland, but away from the coastline, the birds of prey, and the fireworks.  They could still come and visit the trash cans, and even better the trash that was not being thrown into the cans.  And….the exodus began.

It just so happens that I have an abundance of fruit trees on my property.  Fruit that the rats just love.  And, for many years they were content to climb the trees or eat the falls.  After all, a lazy rat is a content rat, and these rats were not only lazy but they were fat.

I don’t know if COVID affected them, but for some reason they decided to stop eating what was outside and they wanted to come inside and scout the territory.  And, like grunion, they sent out their scouts to check the walls, the cracks in the stucco, and the wires.

And you know what?  They liked – no, they LOVED – what they saw, and pretty soon families began to move in.  At first no one was aware of it, because they stayed low to the ground and in the walls.  But a few nights ago one of my students pointed to an oblong brown something on the table and asked if that was a piece of chocolate.  I looked at it, and wasn’t quite sure what it was.  I have never seen anything quite so large and so dense before.  We picked it up and threw it out, and washed the table.  A few hours later she came to me with her cell phone all lit up and pointed out the “chocolate” – it was an adult rat turd.  Oh Crap!  (Literally and figuratively.)

Then we began finding more – in both bathrooms; on the kitchen floor.  Not a lot, but enough to know we had an unwelcome visitor.  We thought it was rather strange that neither of the two dogs seemed concerned. Shadow, my Golden Retriever, loves all animals and if he met the rats he probably welcomed them into the house and showed them where the treats are kept.

Darian, however, is new to us and we are not sure how she would react if she met a rat.  She’s part Pit-bull and Cattle Dog, and sure whips Shadow into shape if he does something wrong. And she tears the stuffing out of all her toys, so I would expect that she would make that rat toe the line or get the heck out of the house.

We decided we better set some rat traps in the house, because we had already caught 3 rats in the backyard.  Setting traps with two active dogs is not easy, and we were very particular where we put them, how we put them, and what we did with the dogs when the traps were active.  (We actually locked them up with us so they never saw the set traps.)

The morning after the first night we had set the traps, Steve came in to report that the rats were smarter than him.  It seems that they managed to eat all of the food on the 4 traps, never set one off, and the traps were clean.

We knew we had to do something different. Last night we set up two old traps which had caught rats successfully outside, in the kitchen.  We put one in front of the dishwasher, where we think they are getting in because of a small hole next to one of the water pipes; we put on in the pantry.  The door is almost impossible to open, but there is enough space between the door and the floor for it to sneak in if it wanted to eat cans.  We put a brand new trap on top of the wild bird suet and we but another new one outside where we had caught the three others.  And we locked ourselves and the dogs up in the bedroom and waited for the tell-tale “CLICK” of the trap falling into place.

At 5:57am, Steve heard that click and with glee he ran into the kitchen to see our prey.  Within seconds he was back to report that, yes, we got the rat, maybe, because there is blood all over the floor in front of the dishwasher, but no rat.  He dressed in his “trapper” clothes – long shirt, gloves, long pants, and went out to find the rat, which he thought was under the refrigerator.

He was right.  The rat was smarter than him, because he – the rat – did not stay around while Steve was changing his clothes.  The rat was nowhere to be found in the kitchen. Steve came back with his report and as he was turning to resume his quest, there was the limping rat in the hallway.  And, once again, the rat outsmarted Steve, because by the time that Steve got to where he saw the rat, the rat was gone.  Steve thought it went under the couch after finding some more evidence but the rat was not to be seen.  Nor was he under the loveseat, the piano, the coffee table, etc.

We brought Darian to the area where we thought the rat might be, because it just happens to be her favorite place to sleep, but she wasn’t interested in exploring there.

We have now moved every piece of furniture in the living room and did not find the rat. We did find part of the jerky we used for bait under the couch; and we did find blood stains under the couch, but we did not find the rat.

You know what that means, don’t you?  It appears that we will be housing our visitor for another day and we are hoping that it does not go back to its hole in the wall to nurse its injured leg, or even worse, to die there. We are hoping that it did not bring his family with him when he made the trek from the Cliffs to the more sedate area of Pt. Loma; we are hoping that neither of the dogs find it and think that it is a play thing.  And most importantly, I am hoping that we know when the rat leaves so that I can sit in my own living room, or dining room, or kitchen, or…….



{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

judi October 10, 2022 at 11:51 am

We have now caught an uninjured huge rat in the kitchen where we thought they were getting in. We did not catch the injured one. Vector Control is coming tomorrow at 10:00am. I can hardly wait!!!!!


nostalgic October 11, 2022 at 10:22 am

Last I knew, Vector Control will give you a booklet on what to do. Perhaps that has changed since I last called them. Another article will let us know what they do and what they say.


Judi October 11, 2022 at 2:27 pm

They used to hand out traps. They will be here tomorrow so I will find out.


Judi October 14, 2022 at 4:24 pm

They did give me a poison-free safe trap from other animals and children.


FrankF October 11, 2022 at 7:29 am

I didn’t think we had rats until I bought a Nest cam to watch out for the raccoons who trash my garden. HOLY COW, night time in OB is an animal parade! Rats, raccoons, possums, and even a seasonal fox all love my back yard. Where do I live? Ramona? Nope, on Niagra, a couple of blocks up from Sunset Cliffs.

BTW Judy, to plug those gaps where pipes enter your house, try stainless steel wool that you can buy at OB Hardware. It’s easy to stuff in the hole and since it’s stainless steel wool, it won’t rust in our salt air. And yes, beef jerky is the best bait for rat and mouse traps. It lasts a long time.


Judi October 11, 2022 at 2:28 pm

Thanks for the advice, Frank. I found some steel wool under the kitchen sink and remembered we had used it for mice many years ago. Will buy some more today!


butterfly October 11, 2022 at 8:32 am

Try the small Havahart or similar brand traps. Home Depot has them or you can order online. If you catch a rat, which I have done, then you have to take it somewhere to release (the city dump?) or figure out how to kill it in the cage. Not fun!


Judi October 11, 2022 at 2:30 pm

I had no idea that you have to take the caught rat and release it. I wonder if my dogs would take to a cat?


Ramoaner October 12, 2022 at 1:16 pm

I have had good luck with a snap trap with a glue trap adjacent , put right inside a twelve pack beer box (empty of course) with the one can size hole. It explores , gets stuck on the glue and thrashes into the snap trap , then just put it in the trash


Joanie October 11, 2022 at 8:58 am

Judi, a cat is what you need!


Patty Jones October 12, 2022 at 12:26 pm

We have a cat who catches them and brings them into the house as gifts for the people he loves. Most of the time they are dead, but sometimes only injured and will run and hide somewhere to die later. There are a lot of nooks and crannies in our house so most times you have to use your nose and be alert to flies to find the the cadaver. Not fun.


judi October 14, 2022 at 4:26 pm

Hi Patty. I think that if Shadow found one he would bring it in the house also. He did that with a tortoise once. I’m smelling things that don’t exist! The creative mind! We still haven’t found the injured one; found out that there is no wall behind the dishwasher and it is so nice and warm there. Guess what construction we are having done on Monday!


Lyle October 11, 2022 at 11:08 am

Consider checking the crawl space under your house. Rats can tunnel for long distances, pop up into that space, and then they can utilize any small opening to access the house. In my case they came up into the house through an oversize hole for the kitchen drain line. I sealed it with “great stuff” foam, and filled in the tunnel with dirt, after trapping a few rats.


Judi October 11, 2022 at 2:31 pm

I found the crawl space entrance slightly ajar. Am in the process of replacing it, but thanks for reminding me.


Jack & Bettyann Lamott October 11, 2022 at 11:13 am

Judy: If you have a recliner, open the back. It usually secures by velcro. It’s easy for rats/mice to get in, but the recliner mechanism can become a giant rat trap if they nest in there. Over the years we’ve fished several out of the mechanism. Unfortunately it’s been after they’ve been in there for a few days.
Enjoyed your piece on PL/OB rats. Can relate to most of it.


Judi October 11, 2022 at 2:33 pm

Oh My. The wounded rat did go into the living room where we have a double recliner. I hate the thought of going and looking in the mechanism but since we haven’t found the rat since he disappeared I guess I had better do so. (Or get someone to do it for me.) Thanks for the tip!


DS Campbell October 11, 2022 at 6:12 pm

Probably licking its wounds and getting hungry. Put traps out !
Rats are very resourceful.
Our old cat brought a live one in years ago. Middle of the night. Kitty was howling as he was so proud of his catch and wanted to show off his prey. He let it go by mistake. He knew he messed up… Hot rat in the house. It rand down the stairs…
Hid in a bedroom and then another bedroom. Back and forth, room to room.
Took a week to trap it. Good looking fat Point Loma Rat. They are really smart creatures. They didn’t have catch and release contraptions then. also would not chance getting bit by one.


Hank Ramírez October 11, 2022 at 3:33 pm

So glad the non-human species are winning!!!


Patty Jones October 12, 2022 at 12:30 pm

Judi, I laughed in empathy. The rats terrorize the chickens, eat the goat food and run through the trees to get the seed from the bird feeders. At one point in my life I had rats for pets and thought they were cute. Now I have no problem drowning an injured, trapped rat in a bucket of water. Rat-bastards.


judi October 14, 2022 at 4:27 pm

Want to spend a few days in Pt. Loma?


Judi October 14, 2022 at 4:28 pm

By the Way – Vector Control told me that what we caught is a “Roof Rat.” I asked him how to tell the difference and he said that the length of the tail is the give-away. The tail on the one we did catch was so long I didn’t get it in the full picture!


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