Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Speake, Rattus Rattus - updated

As the sun set yesterday, I sat wedged between a wall and a cardboard box, watching peanut butter drip off a piece of ham. Why? Because we have a rat.

Some of you will remember our last experience with a rat. We were enjoying the quiet waters of Guatemala when an unwelcome guest swam out to the boat and stole up the anchor chain. Those were innocent days on Papillon; although I was careful to keep food sealed in tins and bags and tucked away in the cupboard, I hadn't yet developed our current draconian everything-stays-in-locked-Tupperware-no-matter-what system. Indeed, it was Samuel Whiskers the First that prompted such changes.

But here on the hard, it has been easy to forget our opportunistic four-legged fellows who scuttle around in the dark. We don't eat aboard. Oh, the odd cookie in the cockpit, sure, but nothing crumbly stays when we aren't here. Plus, we have lockers and lockers full of food that have been sitting here for months, untouched. Why would we suddenly have a problem?

Oh, innocent fools.

Due to the extensive rewiring situation, all of the cupboards have been unpacked. My plan for yesterday had been to throw out all of the expired food, clean the cupboards and make a reprovisioning list. Bright and early, we opened the companionway, tromped downstairs, and discovered a half-eaten jar of Kraft Crunchy sitting beside the sink. Suddenly, my food-checking plans became a little more urgent.

I marveled at the havoc wreaked on that jar. That is some hard plastic. Let's take a closer look, shall we?

Chewed through like it was butter.
Brr. I've heard stories about rats chewing through metal, and now I can easily believe it. 

And so I began the joyful task of inspecting and disinfecting every food product still aboard. Every bottle of cooking oil, every jar of basil. I tossed out everything that had expired and packed the remainder into heavy tupperware, no matter what is was. Ratty had nibbled into a bag of salt in the pantry, but quickly abandoned it as a bad job. I thought we had escaped.

Then, at the bottom of a milk crate on the starboard side upper bunk, I found this:  

Hidden peanut butter - but not hidden enough.
Dammit, the rat had inspected the boat as thoroughly as I had! I don't mind telling you, I had some choice words for our furry friend, whom I hereby dub The Nut. (I considered "Peanut", but that sounded too cute.) This rat has a taste for peanut butter, there's no doubt about it. Not that I can blame it - salt, fat, protein; PB has it all.

Out came the Guatemalan rat trap. You can tell it's a rat trap from the helpful picture on the door.
No, that isn't a watermark - it's a rat.
 We saved a bit of ham from lunch as bait. I slathered it with peanut butter for good measure.

Mmm, delicious and tempting!
All that remains is to see if The Nut took the bait. Maybe he is too large to fit into the trap. Maybe he will just gnaw his way out the other side.

I'll find out shortly and report back.

I can't sugarcoat this: The Nut ignored our feeble attempts to trap him. Was the ham & peanut butter combo not to his liking? Was he simply too freakishly huge to fit in the trap? Who can say? The relevant point is: we haven't seen any further evidence of his presence. It's my hope he went off in a peanut butter-less huff and sought nuttier pastures. Forever. Never to return.


ginfizz70 said...

We have those traps here in the Black Forest. Try and spread some Nutella with hopefully organic palm oil into. The rats have to nibble and - bang! Even better than hammor cheesy bits. But who knows. Maybe the European rats love more the sweeter things?! Thanks Eric for calling! A ,ot going on here. Will let you know. Off for holidays now. Best wishes. Heike, Ralf, Sofia, Luisa and Magnus

Mike said...

Really diggin' the Guatemalan Rat Trap. What's the specs/details on building that?

How long till you're back afloat?


Amy Schaefer said...

Mike, the day I have to build my own Mega Rat Trap is the day I hang up my spurs. Actually, I shouldn't say that - you never know in this old world.

Tracy Trapdoor said...

Are you sure it wasn't the children playing games - making out they are rats!!!! I'm sure, if your kids are like my kids, they will do anything for PB.
Great tails to tell (hahaha)...... X

Nicolas Turcotte said...