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My Rat Guy

 Emily Wright, poet and retired children’s therapist, lives in Midtown Sacramento.

I live in an old wooden house. I have lots of trees, including several citrus trees, in my yard. Birds, squirrels, humans, and yes rats, enjoy the verdant canopy. My rat guy, who has had to come out to my house several times in the past five years, is a font of rat wisdom.

He says that rats' teeth never stop growing, so they have to gnaw to file down their teeth; he says they gnaw on wood; they gnaw on the wood in my house; they will gnaw wood until they make a hole in my house and get into the walls. It's just part of the rat-human relationship. He sets traps baited with peanut butter.

Once, he was sure there were only a few, and if I was willing to pick up a few dead rats in their traps, I could save some money. I agreed. Then I had to dispose of the dead rats. Then I had more rats, and this time I didn't care about the extra money. I just wanted the rats gone, with as little of my participation as possible.

By this time, I had spent a lot of time and energy on rodents, and I was fed up. I asked a real estate agent to come look at my house and give me an idea of what I might get for it. She told me what she thought I could get, with the proviso that, of course, the rats would have to be gone before we put it on the market.















As it happened, my rat guy came out in a few days, and I told him that I had been so fed up I was thinking about getting a condo. But I had talked to my son, and my son said, "You think you won't have housing problems if you get a condo—but that's not the case." He went on to describe several condo nightmares that his in-laws had lived through.

My rat guy said, "Your son has a point." He was working with a man in Natomas (a low-lying area near the Sacramento River) who got rats in his walls.

The condo owner in question lives on the ground floor. The person above him doesn't want to do anything about the rats, because they don't bother him. The condo board doesn't want to do anything because the place is only two years old, so what could be wrong with it?

My rat guy climbed up on the roof and found out that the vents had not been sealed properly when the place was built, creating a nice gap that rats can walk right into; they don't even need to gnaw anything. The owner is having to hire an attorney, as well as my rat guy, to try to solve the problem.

My rat guy said to me, "That poor guy is now the owner of a $350,000 rat hotel."

You may have a mechanic you call "my mechanic," and a doctor you call "my doctor." I have rat guy, and he is "my rat guy" and he is surely going to save me from having a rat hotel… I hope…

~ Emily Wright


















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