What was eating our Beets?
We spent the whole summer wondering what was eating our beets. We suspected gophers, muskrats, squirrels and maybe even a rabbit but nothing fitted the MO. Gophers live in gopher holes, squirrels in trees, rabbits eat lettuce and carrots that weren’t touched. Everyday we went out and two or three of the beets would be munched on – enough to ruin the beet. Little did we know!
One day I walked around the house from the front and there trotting across our lower deck was a rat – not a muskrat, not a squirrel, not a rabbit but a rat. Now in rat free Alberta, rats don’t exist of course, but I saw a rat. My granddaughter had seen it earlier but she was only nine so it was difficult for her to be a credible witness.
I talked to many people about this rat but so many questioned my credibility – “Are you sure it wasn’t a weasel?” “Maybe it was a muskrat.” “There aren’t any rats in Alberta.” “I saw a rat I tell you – it was a rat!” Yet I was almost talked out of believing what I saw.
Then the war was on! It was Warfarin and some other funny sounding poison along with rat traps, sticky things to get its feet stuck to, etc. I told the girl at the till that if this didn’t work it was going to be explosives and wondered if she had any dynamite or hand-grenades! We were determined – we’ll get him!
Little known to us the creature had been dragging things back through the broken two by four under the deck. A bunch of stuff started appearing there – discarded corn cobs from the garden, rocks, shiny things and then it dawned on us. This invader was a pack rat. I looked up pack rat on the internet and there it was staring back at me – the beet thief!
I read up on it and immediately panicked – pack rats can chew through anything it said. Pack rats can get into the walls of your house it said. It is amazing how many sounds there are in your house that you don’t notice until there is a possibility of a rat being in the wall – especially noticeable at night.
Well, that was it – the war started in earnest! We had snow by this time and I found the trail it was using. It was peanut butter on the menu with a lovely trap just under the snow, another in front of the hole he made in the garage wall. I had previously found the hole he was using to get into the garage so I plugged it with some metal. I came back the next day and he had torn through the wall and ripped insulation out and spread it all over the garage. I could hear him thinking, “I’ll show you – think you can keep me out – think again!”
He was frequenting the garage by now and so it was a plate of delectable seed with that funny sounding poison soaked into it. I surrounded the plate with the sticky things reserved for his feet but he managed to eat the whole plate of seed without getting stuck. I diligently refilled the plate and waited. The next day the plate was empty again and it looked suspiciously like a fight occurred and two of the sticky things were gone. In my mind’s eye I saw him walking over the snow laughing at me with these sticky things like snow shoes on his feet. I believe I’ve had the last laugh though as there is now no trace of him anywhere. It is warming up and if he is dead somewhere and not just relocated I will probably find him fairly soon.
I talked to the rat control guy and he helpfully offered, “I bet the rat is really healthy living on your beets.” He also said that sometimes these creatures are checking out a truck for food when the truck leaves and drives into Alberta unwarily bringing the hitch-hiker along. As we have a truck stop across the highway from us, this is a likely scenario. He probably smelled our lovely garden and decided to come over and set up house. We are so glad he didn’t bring Mrs. Pack rat with him or we might have had world war three. Summer is rolling in and we are looking forward to planting our beets again this year and hopefully we will get a full crop sans the beet thief.