How many of you saw the movie Ratatouille? How many of you thought Disney made a cute rat character? Wait, keep your hands up. Look to your left and right, everyone with their hands up has never had a rat in their house.
In October of 2007 Mirinda and I moved out of the sprawling metropolis of Vientiane (pop. 600,000) and into a small village close to the University where I teach. Some of the drawbacks from this decision have been: long commutes into town, neighbors who have never seen a foreigner, dirt roads that turn into swamps during the rainy season, and rats. Lots and lots of rats. I had never dealt with a rat before moving here, even in the States all I had seen were little house mice. Observe exhibit A:
Today I want to share some of my exciting rat stories with you all. We'll start with our first rat experience. I was sitting in the living room on a vinyl couch when I heard something thumping below me. Curious, I turn the couch over and was looking through a hole that had been chewed when...bam! Flying out of the hole at my face a huge rat! I almost fell backwards and Mirinda screamed as the rat ran through the house and into the kitchen where he disappeared. After this harrowing experience we bought a pile of glue traps and have been baiting them non-stop since.
My second note-worthy experience was after we came back from a conference in Thailand. We had been gone about four weeks and the person who was taking care of our house had accidentally locked the office door. Unfortunately we didn't have a key to that door. When we finally managed to get the door open, we noticed an unusual odor, but it wasn't very strong so we ignored it. A few hours later, we thought it was getting stronger, so we let the dog in to pinpoint the source. Underneath a chair lay the rotting carcass of a long dead rat. Disturbing the body made the whole room stink worse and we were bleaching and airing it out for weeks.
Finally, when my parents where visiting this past December, Mirinda heard some activity in a closet under the stairs. I grabbed a flashlight and a broom stick, set two glue traps across the door, and went in to flush the thing out. I was pulling out boxes and making noise to get the rat to run out the door. All of a sudden I picked up a box and (again!) a rat jumped out towards my face. I almost hit my head on the ceiling, but my plan worked and the rat got caught on the trap. Unfortunately, as soon as we cleaned him up another one ran out and got away. Only 50% that night.