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Beware of all the rats

Ranger Rich


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I've gone on and on lately about our astute City Council members and how they nearly froze to death on that motor scooter near Aspen as they were returning rich Mary Swanson's briefcase, and the side-splitting bathroom scene after Scott Hente poured an entire bottle of Turbo Lax laxative into Randy Purvis' tea.

Although it's possible I'm confusing our village leaders' recent actions with the 1994 classic Dumb and Dumber. I'm not sure how I could have gotten those two things mixed up.

I've also written about our beloved state Rep. Dave Schultheis, comparing his level of intelligence to that of a sack of hammers. (Update: Because of that analogy, I'm now being sued for libel and defamation of character. For details on that lawsuit see Colorado Case No. 3409724: Sack of Hammers v. Tosches.)

So today I vow not to write about politicians. I will, for example, make superhuman attempts to steer clear of even the hint of a joke about people such as city-destroyer Doug "Mothra" Bruce.

I will also not write today about our mayor, Lionel "Shakedown Artist" Rivera, or bring up any unrelated questions such as: "Geez, just how lousy does a mayor have to be to get the villagers yapping about a recall election?"

Nope, today I hereby promise that there will be no further mention of our local politicians.

Instead I will write about rats.

I've actually been thinking about and preparing this column on rats for several weeks, and I will now pause for all of you to say, "Oh yeah, it sure looks like it," and get that sarcasm out of your system.

Anyway, it all started when my neighbor, Russ, called and said, "You got a minute? I'm having some trouble over here." I was at his front door in 4.6 seconds, in part because that's what friends are for but mostly because the last time he used those words he'd just done some electrical wiring and couldn't figure out why, when his wife tried to make toast, the garage door would snap open and the doorbell would burst into flames.

When I arrived he led me to his driveway and opened the hood of his Jeep. Atop the engine was a large, perfectly formed circle of sticks and leaves woven neatly into what appeared to be a holiday wreath.

"I clean it out every day, and every morning it's back again," he said, and he might have said more but I couldn't hear him because I was screaming and running awkwardly back toward my own driveway, which, unlike his, is not possessed by the red-eyed Mictlantecuhtli, the foul-breathed Mexican lord of hell.

Seriously, Russ said squirrels must be building the nests each night under his hood. I knew that wasn't true, though, because squirrels are not nocturnal and they certainly know that it's far easier to gather nuts in the bright light of day.

Turns out the nightly nests under the Jeep's hood were the work of rats. Not the mangy urban rats associated with apartments owned by an unnamed slumlord who dedicates his life to stripping a town bare and eliminating things such as stormwater fees under the guise of "taxpayers' rights" when it's actually just a way to keep more money for himself — money that he sure doesn't seem to be spending on dates.

No, these were wood rats — quiet, secretive rats that live undetected in the shadows where they gather seeds, build nests and talk about shutting down bus service because rats know poor people without cars are usually busy scraping out a living and can't always find the time to vote.


Anyway, local Orkin rat expert Sean Morgan says my neighbor's nest problem is a common one now as a surging rat and mouse population — heavy rain this year meant more seeds to eat, and thus more of the rodents — seeks the relative nighttime warmth of car engines.

"It's almost impossible to get rid of them," Morgan says.

Like we didn't already know that.


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