My favorite rat story

I first realized I had a rat problem when the bread rack in our school’s kitchen was attacked one night. The nasty buggers had gnawed through the plastic wrappers and pigged out on our hamburger buns.

For fifteen years, I had been an elementary school cafeteria manager, but this was the worst destruction I’d seen so far.  The rats didn’t choose one pack and eat everything. No, they nibbled through several packs, contaminating the whole lot. Maybe they were looking for the whole wheat?

Our solution was glue boards, or what I called sticky pads. These are shallow plastic trays about 8 inches long and 4 inches wide. They are filled with this incredibly sticky glue. You place them along the walls, where rodents scurry by.

The idea is that the rat will step a foot into the glue – panic – and use his other foot to pull himself free. Of course, now he has two feet stuck, and being the highly-intelligent creature he is, ratty will bring up a hind foot to free his front feet. In no time, ratty is hopelessly stuck.

I put several sticky pads on the floor. I also put one up on the breaker box on the wall. The exterminator had noticed an opening in the ceiling where the power line came into the kitchen, and thought the rats might be shinnying down the pole and into food central.

The equipment in the kitchen was centered in the room in two back-to-back rows. Two industrial ovens, and a large steamer were on one side. The fryers and three steam kettles faced out on the other. All of these cookers stood on legs about 6 inches off the floor.

Between these two rows of equipment, were several one-inch pipes. They came up out of the floor and bent at right angles to carry gas, water, or power to all the units. These pipes ran parallel to the floor, about 4” to 6” up, so we could hose out errant French fries and lost chicken nuggets.

Each morning I checked my traps for ‘activity’ and sure enough, one morning the sticky pad on the breaker box was missing. With some trepidation, I went searching for the trap, knowing there was a big, ugly rat stuck in the glue.

I spotted the sticky pad leaning against those pipes between the rows of equipment, but it didn’t look like there was a rat attached. Using a broom, I knocked the plastic pad free for a closer examination. The glue was covered with fur!

This is what I envisioned happening. The rat came down the power line, and maybe got one foot stuck in the glue. Startled, ratty lost his balance and fell to the floor dragging the sticky pad with him. Then he might have rolled around until his fur got good and stuck in that glue.

Now in panic mode, the rat made a run for the shelter of the equipment in the middle of the room. The clacking of the plastic board on the floor, and the weight of this thing on ratty’s back no doubt added to the frenzy.

He ran beneath the oven, and made it under those pipes running parallel to the floor—but the sticky pad did not. Now I don’t know who came up with this theory of physics, but it goes something like: a freaked-out rat in forward motion tends to stay in forward motion.

If ratty had backed up, he would have at least been free of the pipes. But once that rodent got going he just kept going, and his fur stayed in the glue. Ole’ ratty hauled his freshly-waxed bare butt out of my kitchen as fast as he could.

I learned something new about rats after that. I knew that they leave a scented trail so all their buddies can find the land of plenty, but evidently they can also leave a trail that tells their friends, “stay away from here”, because we never saw any sign of rodents after that.

BTW – I transferred to another school the next year.




2 Replies to “My favorite rat story”

  1. Craig Weible says: Reply

    I don’t have a good rat story to share Marsha, but you gave me the willys when you said you were using glue pads rather than good ‘ole spring traps. I’d much prefer to find ratty with a broken neck then to have to beat it to death with a broom handle or throttle it with my bare hands! Kidding

    1. Even the custodians hated to take away the twitching beasts. And I always felt bad when we caught a little mouse. But those rats were a nightmare.

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