The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

March 21, 2011

What I Learned From The Rat In My Toilet

The text message I sent my sister Friday night was, “OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There was a rat in our toilet bowl tonight!”

You know the urban legend about rats and snakes and other critters swimming up through the sewer pipes into your toilet? It’s not an urban legend. Not where rats are concerned, anyway.

This story gets pretty gross, so be warned.

We buy Swheatscoop cat litter. It comes in a paper bag, not plastic, and it’s made from wheat, so it’s compostable and flushable. Our cats love it. In fact, they love it a little too much.

[2016 Update:  Today, we use Integrity cat litter.  Swheatscoop switched to a plastic bag.]

Swheatscoop cat litter

Swheatscoop cat litter

Which is why ever since this incident in 2008, we’ve kept the bag out of reach of little critters.

Swheatscoop cat litter

Wheat litter is flushable (as long as your cats don’t have toxoplasma gondii, the parasite that kills sea otters, which ours don’t) but even still, sometimes the clumps get a little hard, so the company recommends to let it sit in the toilet for 20 minutes before flushing to help the wheat clumps break down. And that’s the problem…

Swheatscoop cat litter

We sometimes let it sit in there longer than 20 minutes. Friday night, we forgot to flush before leaving the house, and when I got home and lifted the lid, there was a fat brown rat EATING the cat litter IN THE TOILET! Did you hear what I said? The lid had been down! He got into the toilet through the pipes!

I dropped the lid and started to hyperventilate. “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, Michael, oh my god, OH MY GOD!!! There’s a RAT in the toilet!!!”

“Beth, I tried to tell you that before,” he said, “But you didn’t believe me.”

See, apparently, in the middle of the night a few weeks earlier, Michael thought he’d seen a tail scurrying down the toilet pipe when he got up to pee. But I’d told him he was hallucinating and forgot all about it.


“Well, it’s huge and it’s sitting in there! What should we do? (OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!)”

Michael came running in with a baseball bat. I don’t know what he thought he was going to do with that thing, but after pacing back and forth, peeing in the tub finally (because I really, really had to go!) and then pacing some more, I sloooooooowly lifted the lid to look in again, and… the rat was gone. GONE!

Of course it was. It had gone back into the sewer whence it came.

So I flushed and flushed a bunch of times. And then I started to Google. I found all kinds of discussions about rats showing up in closed toilet bowls, with people insisting that the rats had swum in from the pipes and others arguing that was impossible.

It’s not impossible. In fact, there is a device you can attach to your toilet to keep out rats and snakes and other unwanted animals.

Okay, so I’m not going to stop using wheat litter. It works well for us as long as we sprinkle baking soda in the litter box, comes in a paper bag, and can be flushed without a problem. (Well, except for this problem.) I’m going to get my landlord to install that device, and I’m not going to let the litter mellow out in the toilet anymore.

But aside from practical considerations, this incident has forced me to examine my feelings about and relationship to animals. How is it that I would do anything, anything to protect my little kitties? I don’t eat meat and have changed my life to protect wild animals from plastic pollution. And yet, for a few minutes one night, we thought about clubbing an animal to death with a baseball bat. And then discussed various types of poison before coming to our senses. What’s that about?

Hal Herzog has a book out called, Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals. I haven’t read it yet, but I listened to an interview with the Herzog on To The Best of Our Knowledge the other night and a few days later read Mark Bittman’s piece in the New York Times, “Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others,” in which he bemoans the treatment of farm animals and “pests” and wonders how a woman can be jailed for beating a hamster to death while the City of New York gets a pass for routinely poisoning its cousins the rats.

I don’t want a rat in my toilet. And I don’t want a rat as a pet either. So I’ll find a way to block its entry and stop leaving “food” in my toilet. But because of this incident, I’ll continue to examine my relationship to the animal world and the strong reactions I have to it.

Oh, and look before sitting down.

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7 years ago

Yes, it happens. I saw the pro’s saying it’s impossible, they are in the wrong line of work. I was on the can, got up and straightened my clothes and heard something, thought it was a mouse. Looked at the toilet and the seat was wet, not from me. :>) . I backed off and stood quiet for a minute and the biggest rat I ever saw was backing out from behind the toilet.
Not wanting him to get into the rest of the house I yelled at him and he ducked back behind a bucket next to the toilet, while I went looking for implements of destruction. Looked at a squirrel gun, decided against that. Called a buddy of mine who said “You probably have more than 1.”
While I was on the phone, standing guard he hopped up on the toilet, stood on his hind feet and gave me a dirty look. He was a monster. His body was the size of a 2 liter coke bottle, up to the neck of the bottle. He would have kicked a cat’s rear end. Being a man I’m not sposed to be afraid of a little rat, I was terrified. If he jumped on my face he would have tore me up. He proceeded to swan dive back into the toilt and I started flushing, was surprised the toilet didn’t overflow as I watched him disappear right down the toilet, the biggest thing that toilet ever swallowed. I thought it was over, wondered if he would come back.
10 minutes later I went back in there and stood quiet again. I heard some rustling from the trash can in the bathroom, not a small can, about to the bottom of my pants pocket. As I was watching I saw the head of a rat quick look at me and duck back in. Right then I knew we had more than one. I put a garbage bag over the can and hustled it out in the yard and removed the trash bag. 30 seconds later he jumped out and scurried into the night. This one was half the size of the first one and the first one is the one I think about every time I sit down there. I hope to never see him again but, getting out might be harder than getting in. I put 3 huge rat traps down and started looking for poop to determine how bad the problem was. They usually run around the perimeter. Found 2 mid size turds that were still wet and one soft huge turd, only in that bathroom. These 3 rat turds were equal to many mouse turds, at least 10 mouse turds. They were big enough to stink up the bathroom.
This was my first experience with rats in a house, have seen a lot outside in my lifetime but never that big. I think the main thing is to stay calm. Grabbing a gun might be overkill. If you lose your head you will have rats in the house.
Keeping the lid down like you said would help, every time they jump up let em bang their head. The one I had here would have lifted the lid.

8 years ago

years ago my aunt only had a tiny dog in the house. she picked up the toilet seat because she had to use the toilet. when she lifted the seat their was a rat in the water.she closed the lid and called the exterminator. when the exterminator came he flused the bowl and the rat went back down. he went to the water trap and someone didnt close it so it was a water rat.

10 years ago

dousing cotton balls with cayenne pepper and peppermint oil can be an effective natural deterrent in keeping mice away. put the cotton balls doused in the cayenne pepper and peppermint where you have seen mice—and change every three months.

10 years ago


11 years ago

I’ve started using swheat scoop but I’m afraid the little weevils will move I to it (I tossed the instant rice where they lived, so they’re looking for a new home). Does anyone have a weevil/bug solution? Maybe add diatomaceous earth? Probably can’t use anti bug essential oils..

Beth Terry
11 years ago
Reply to  Melissa

I wouldn’t add diatomaceous earth to the litter because it’s not good for cats to breathe. And no, most essential oils are bad for cats and would probably drive your cats away from the box. I haven’t had a bug situation, only a rat situation, and only in the toilet. Wondering if anyone else has.

12 years ago

I am an animal lover so when you talked about the baseball bat, I was like “ohh no :(!!” I’m glad it didn’t get hurt though. I can understand safety concerns with the rat but I’m glad you were making the connection from how you treat your kitties to how you treat rats. I hope that you will be up for using a humane method of releasing a rat should another one come about :)

12 years ago

I have thankfully never had a rat in my toilet, or any other kind of living creature. But I’ve had a phobia about it ever since I heard a news story almost 25 years ago about a local woman with a snake in her toilet.

I think it’s normal to have an aversion to certain animals. While it may not be totally fair, the truth is that some animals carry disease and steal our food. I’ve had mice in my house (but thankfully never rats) and it’s pretty annoying when they pee and poo in your cupboard and eat the good chocolate. Wanting to keep them out of there is pretty reasonable, I think. There are more and less gentle ways to do that, but I can understand why your first impulse would not be to turn the rat into a pet.

12 years ago

Hey Petunia, we had a house mouse that we named Milton. We discovered him when an unexplained hole into a tunnel appeared in the soil of a potted plant. We figured it was a mouse but could not figure out how he was getting into the big tall pot to do the digging….

First, to verify the hole/tunnel was in use I put one piece of shipping popcorn in it. Next morning, the popcorn had been moved out.

So I set up my videocam aimed at the potted plant and let it run all night long. Bingo! I caught Milton in the act! It was hilarious. He would leap from the floor and grab hold of a low-hanging leaf on the plant, then he would climb the leaf stem and jump into the pot.

The funniest part was his leaps to grab the leaf weren’t always successful and he would fall to the floor, go back and take another leap until he made it.

Life is tenacious and inventive.

Petunia GreenBeans
12 years ago

Ack! Ack! Ack!!!!! Good grief!!!!

The first time I found a mouse in my garage, my instinct was to let the cats loose and let nature’s take it course. Well that plan backfired, as Zoe & Mittens made friends with Mr. Mouse and went so far as to share their food with it!! After that I got a metal trap (no kill), and a spoonful of peanut butter did the trick. Once caught, the poor little guy sat their for (seemingly) hours while my husband and I debated who would set it free. “You do it”…”No you do it…” Luckily my rock crushed his scissors. Phew.

But just recently we had magic mouse in the garage- trap set, peanut butter slathered- 5 days- no mouse. I KNOW I saw him/her. I refreshed the peanut butter for another week and still no mouse. Hubby thinks I hallucinated, I suspect he made it out on trash day (or at least I hope- the alternative is he chewed through the wall and is now living it up somewhere in our stead!)
A RAT is another story though, YIKES! If I ever caught one of those in my trap, I’d be praying that my paper covers hubby’s rock!!!!

11 years ago
Reply to  Beth Terry

OMG! I’ve slowly been catching up on your blogs, and just now read -and reread- this! Living in the East Bay I’m all too familiar with the rodents we have living in a not so parallel universe! Don’t know if its been mentioned elsewhere, but have you looked into the EnviroKats system? Might be worth a review on your blog…

Beth Terry
11 years ago
Reply to  jay

Hi Jay. I’m inferring from the website that EnviroKats litter is made from recycled tires, but strangely, I can’t find any page that actually says that. The front page says it is made from “recycled material” and the Environment page says, “EnviroKats (Patent Pending) helps reduce the number of used tires that are clogging our landfills.” However, there is no page that actually says “EnviroKats contains… xyz” so that leaves me wondering what else is in it. Also, I’m not sure about the safety of having my cats sit in used car tires… they are synthetic and contain all kinds of ingredients, so I don’t know about the health impact for my cats. Have you done any research on it?

7 years ago
Reply to  Beth Terry

Why don’t you start throwing your litter in the garbage bin to solve your rat in the toilet problem? Its probably better for the sewer system too. I hope you’re not on a septic tank system, excess non biological material could throw off the bacterias that break down waste in a septic tank.

12 years ago

Your story made me laugh out loud… in other news, we use Yesterday’s News litter made from recycled newspapers, but I’d love to find Swheat Scoop… there are other litters that are flushable but in plastic bags. Bleh.

Anyway.. hrm. I think rats are pets are quite fine indeed, but as a pest? I also couldn’t bring myself to take one’s life– I’d probably set a trap and release them a few miles away, which is what one of my neighbors did.

This raises a very interesting question though. Huhm….

12 years ago

Oh my god. I have goosebumps just thinking of it. I think it’s instinctive for humans to recoil from certain animals: spiders, snakes, rats, wild things with really big teeth. These are animals that our bodies recognize as DANGEROUS. And I’ll tell you…I’m a vegetarian animal-lover…and I would have been brandishing a baseball bat if I’d seen a rat in my toilet.

Quick story: my sister worked in a restaurant – a very clean and well-reviewed restaurant in the downtown core – and one day when she was working 2 rats crawled up through the sewers and ran through the restaurant. They were still WET and one of them crawled onto a customer’s purse. ARGH! Needless to say, there was a bit of a stampede to get out of the restaurant and it took a long time to rebuild their reputation!

12 years ago

We discovered that mice were attracted to the wheat litter (the cat box is in an unfinished basement). And since our cats like to catch mice, but not kill them, and because they transported the live mice from the basement into our first-floor bedroom (via a really nifty series of ramps and a cat door), and because they would drop the mice and play with them (a little) and then get bored and come to bed (leaving the mice roaming our bedroom, often injured), we got rid of the wheat litter.

I was once told that if you have mice, you don’t have rats. And if you have rats, you don’t have mice. Mostly, I’m happiest without either.

11 years ago
Reply to  Karin

Mice and rats can coexist. We discovered both living in our floor’s insulation (open to the house’s crawl space).

12 years ago

Augh! Animals where they don’t belong are always troubling.
Myself, I love *pet* rats. They’re social, smart, and very friendly. One of ours figured out how to open his cage door and would sit waiting for my mother to come in and pet him :)
That said, there’s a difference between my dearly-departed Buddy and the wild ‘un in your bathroom! I’m glad you’re taking a nonviolent solution, though.

12 years ago

#2 Traveling through the Dark
William Stafford

Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.

By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.

My fingers touching her side brought me the reason
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside that mountain road I hesitated.

The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights;
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.

I thought hard for us all my only swerving,
then pushed her over the edge into the river.

The conversations I had with my students every year about these two poems were always some of the best of the year. I thought you–and your animal loving readers–might enjoy these poetic contributions to the dialogue on how we view animals and their rights when they come into conflict with human life.

12 years ago

Two poems for you, Beth, which I used to teach at the U of CO in a literature class:

#1 Woodchucks
Gassing the woodchucks didn’t turn out right.
The knockout bomb from the Feed and Grain Exchange
was featured as merciful, quick at the bone
and the case we had against them was airtight,
both exits shoehorned shut with puddingstone,
but they had a sub-sub-basement out of range.

Next morning they turned up again, no worse
for the cyanide than we for our cigarettes
and state-store Scotch, all of us up to scratch.
They brought down the marigolds as a matter of course
and then took over the vegetable patch
nipping the broccoli shoots, beheading the carrots.

The food from our mouths, I said, righteously thrilling
to the feel of the .22, the bullets’ neat noses.
I, a lapsed pacifist fallen from grace
puffed with Darwinian pieties for killing,
now drew a bead on the little woodchuck’s face.
He died down in the everbearing roses.

Ten minutes later I dropped the mother.She
flipflopped in the air and fell, her needle teeth
still hooked in a leaf of early Swiss chard.
Another baby next.O one-two-three
the murderer inside me rose up hard,
the hawkeye killer came on stage forthwith.

There’s one chuck left. Old wily fellow, he keeps
me cocked and ready day after day after day.
All night I hunt his humped-up form.I dream
I sight along the barrel in my sleep.
If only they’d all consented to die unseen
gassed underground the quiet Nazi way.

Maxine Kumin

(anyone who is initially incensed by this poem, remember to look carefully at the imagery, word choice, and tone of irony, and think about what the author is really saying)

12 years ago

Is it possible the rat got into the toilet by jumping in from the outside, and then accidently knocked the lid down on top of itself?

In British toilets pests cannot enter the home backwards through the sewer system.

My mum’s cat chooses to do its mess in the bath all the time! It’s a bit disgusting but saves a lot of cat litter waste

12 years ago

I think I fell in love with you a little because of this post. I don’t know which part I loved more- the detailed description of kitty waste disposal, the admittance of peeing in th tub, or the well articulated, non judgemental way you questioned your reactions and came to a well-thought out conclusion. Maybe it was the picture of the cat languidly lounging in a pool of kitty litter. Whatever it was, this is one of my favorite posts on the internet, ever. Thank you for that.

12 years ago

I have a pet rat which is very different than a wild, sewer rat. Talk about ambiguous lines between love and loathe!

But seriously, I work at a country vet clinic. I see this situation every day. A farmer loves *his* dogs but when dogs come to his yard and attack his sheep, they need to be shot. No word as to whether his dogs ever get out and attack other people’s sheep.

Good luck!

12 years ago Might have to click around her blog for the rest of the story but it goes back to a rat in the toilet…

12 years ago

Not that this is the point of your post, but I have always heard it is a bad idea to flush animal waste simply because waste water treatment plants are build with a certain population capacity in mind, and if everyone with a pet flushed their pet waste it would overload the treatment plant. Maybe pet waste is not a bad thing to put in the trash (in a paper bag or sans any bag)…

Condo Blues
12 years ago

There is a food chain and rats in the toilet are waaaaay down my list. Not to mention, did you see the movie Willard (original or remake)?! That made a rat in the toilet seem like a walk in the park.

Pet rats are a different story because they are not bubonic plague carriers.

12 years ago

Could you please send me some info on these anti-animal-in-your-toilet-devices? I use Swheat scoop, too!!!
thank-you so much :D

12 years ago

A few years ago we installed a new bathroom with a (sorry) plastic waste pipe – the rats came up and ate through the pipe and were running around under the bath. Fortunately that area was sealed off at the time and they didn’t get out into the house. As we were in the process of renovating the house at the time and not living there we only found out when we connected the growing smell with water seeping out from under the bath when we flushed the toilet. Removing the side of the bath revealed most of what we had flushed away of the previous 2-3 weeks had run straight out of the hole in the pipe and into the space under the bath. Not a pleasant clean up operation!!

12 years ago

LOL When I clear the drains here at work… people always look at my funny when I say I got the rat out of the drain line. Now I have proof!

Erin aka Conscious Shopper
12 years ago

As a kid, we regularly had frogs (toads? I forget which) hop out of the toilet. It made nighttime bathroom trips very interesting.

12 years ago

ok, this wins the “freakiest read of the day” award! And though I feel I must have a little Jain in me (at least enough to feel guilty about killing even insects), any intruder INSIDE my home may be subject to dire consequences. Manys the time I’ve picked up a spider in a tissue or trapped in a glass then put it outside, but a rat? I’m ashamed to say that I’d hope someone were around with a bat…or else I’d have to move. ;)

12 years ago

Kaylen- I’m worried by your comment of you put your dog poop in the municipal composting bin. I’m the recycling educator in Sonoma County and we don’t allow that. I was under the impression that it wasn’t safe because even a commercial composting system can’t breakdown any pathagons commenly found in meat-eating mammels animal’s waste. Does anyone know more info about this?

LInda Anderson
12 years ago

You have a natural right to protect your house and food from wild animals. They can cause some serious damage and can spread disease. I found the old fashioned wooden mouse/rat trap to be the most eco-friendly (not a plastic one). That may be difficult with your inquisitive kitties. Once in Hawaii, a rat jumped into the bathroom through an open window. It landed on my son’s back while he was on the john!

Throwing mice/rats outside does nothing. They just come back in. I love and respect nature but have no problem killing furry invaders from nature. Snakes, I catch them and put them back outside, but that’s just me.

12 years ago

OMG, Beth, are you saying that in addition to having a mouse run under my feet when I stumble to the toilet in the middle of the night (true story), there might possibly be a rat IN my toilet?

12 years ago

Holy Crap!!! I think I might have become totally hysterical if I had found a live rat in my toilet. And I am utterly shocked… I would have sworn that rats coming in through the toilet was the stuff of urban legends. It’s giving me a little nervous hoe down here just thinking about it.

You know, I’ve sort of come to the conclusion that wild animals and real estate have a great deal in common. What’s really important about them is location, location, location! We had a mouse in the garden last summer and I thought it was the cutest little thing, but when one showed up in the living room a few weeks later I was reduced to a blithering idiot.

The scene was quite comical, in fact. Picture two kittens bouncing off the walls (quite literally) and me using every ounce of self-control I had in my possession to keep from doing a complete rendition of the South Park “Eek a Penis” episode ( ). All of the excitement roused Sputnik, the 12 year old fat cat, from his sleep – and while still yawning he meandered over, and caught the thing in 2 seconds flat, seemingly without any effort whatsoever. He didn’t even hurt it, he just brought it over to me and spit it out into a bucket so I could let it outside.

But all funny stories aside, I share your constirnation regarding the seething cauldron of contradictions that it is to be an animal lover. But, in the end I don’t think there are any moral absolutes. I mean, I strive to treat all living things humanely, and with compassion, but the animal kingdom (of which we are a part) is more like a Roman Gladiator pit than a cuddly petting zoo. Animals can pose real threats to us (as can other people) and it’s normal and healthy to want to protect yourself.

12 years ago

Oh, Holly, that does sound horrible! Do you remember what trap style/company it was? I want to make sure I avoid that kind. It wasn’t a metal trap was it? That’s the kind I would use.

12 years ago

Oh, Meg, I did try the humane traps — only to have a mouse chew through the side and get stuck half in and half out. It was horrible.

12 years ago


I used to have a rat as a pet. But I had invited her into my home and expected her to be there. Likewise, I used to have a landlord who I would invite into my home and all was good until the landlord broke into my home in the night. I know bizarre right? Well I went from making tea for the landlord to running out of my bedroom with a big knife to protect myself in that instance, so I think your feelings about the rat in the toilet are justified.

I think you have made a wonderful decision to install a blocking device for the rat. I’m sure it was pretty surprised to see you shriek and open the lid too. It will be best for you both to install the block

12 years ago

I guess they should start calling it SWEETscoop

12 years ago

Thats so gross. I would have totally freaked out if there was a rat in my toilet.

12 years ago

Holly, there are humane mouse traps that don’t kill the mice. Please switch to them. Those kill traps are just awful.

Beth, I’m glad you’re not eating meat, but I hope you will consider the many other animals who are exploited and killed. The milk and egg and leather industries, for example, are all as bad if not worse. Even the stuff labelled “humane” is needlessly cruel.

I’ll admit, I’m still working on how I treat “pests”. I had to switch to a pest control service because ants were just attacking my house from all sides. I guess they were carpenter ants or something because they were more interested in the house than anything else inside. I feel awful about it, but the could have caused some serious damage. I do keep things very well picked up and haven’t had problems in the kitchen at all. I do get some bugs in the bathroom, though, and I try to take them outside and let them loose. Sometimes I still panic because I have pretty severe arachnophobia. I’m trying really hard to get past that because it’s not fair to them to be killed on account of my irrational fear.

12 years ago

I know EXACTLY where you’re coming from. I’m a hard-core animal lover, but living in the woods, I have a chronic problem with mice infesting my parked car. They have destroyed the fire-proof lining inside my car’s hood, torn up everything in my glove box to make a nest, and left little turds all over my dashboard.

Mice are a real health hazard here. My stepmother died from hantavirus (which is transmitted by mouse feces). And if they nibble the wires or hoses in my car, it could be a real safety issue. Not to mention the repair bill! And the horror of driving along and having a mouse pop out of the air vents where the hood meets the windshield.

I tried everything. EVERY. DAMN. THING. Every single suggestion I read on the internet, I tried it. None of them worked.

Finally I had to give in and use poison. I can’t even use traps, because there’s no way to situate a trap inside my car’s engine compartment. I feel really bad about it, but it’s literally me or them.

10 years ago
Reply to  Erika

cayenne pepper–(cotton balls doused with cayenne pepper) and peppermint oil (same–cotton balls doused in peppermint oil) are natural deterrents for mice…put them in places where you see mice indoors/outdoors. seems to work.

12 years ago


Any plans for green bins/municipal compost to come to your area? I compost veggies on my own but put my dog waste in the municipal compost.

12 years ago

Beth, it’s natural to defend your home and family. If a human had threatened you, you might get the baseball bat, too. That said, I’m glad you are taking a preventive and kinder approach.

I used to get the occasional mouse where I used to live, but cats got to them before I could trap them (in non-lethal traps for my karmic protection). I did manage to rescue one alive from my tabby’s jaws. An interesting day. I will only add that, while it’s no rat in the toilet, thank Goddess, finding a mouse in the house, alive OR dead, doesn’t seem so bad once you’ve come home from work to find half a mouse. :(

12 years ago

My mom lives in the city and has experienced a rat in the toilet a few times. She ALWAYS looks before sitting. Not sure why they visit her toilet, though, as she does not use this litter. *shrugs* Who knows?

Glad you looked before sitting!

12 years ago

Rats are remarkable animals – it’s said that if there were a catastrophic event on earth, rats and cockroaches would be the most likely to come out on top.

I wouldn’t hesitate to kill a rat if there was a need to do so. They do bite, they do carry diseases and they don’t give a hoot about my welfare regardless of my attitude about theirs.

Every form of life strives to survive. The result of that is if there is nothing to keep a given form of life under control (like other forms of life in competition) it will take over.

Nobody wants other forms of life to over-run their homes, so we (and other animals as well) routinely kill such things as insects, mice and such. No problem for those species because they reproduce so prolifically that the species, though not the individuals, pops right back. Nature is clearly indifferent to the survival of individuals beyond their reproducing stage (that’s why individuals deteriorate after that stage – they are no longer needed. The marvelous system of genetics common to all life makes it that way)

Life’s ability to survive is why insecticides, anti-biotics, herbicides are only temporarily effective. In the absence of such artificial killers, nature would produce swarms of biological killers as it always has – if any one species thrives, another will come to feast on it. The “Age of Dinosaurs” only temporarily favored that group.

There’s nothing sacred about life or any particular form of life. We see the species we do because of evolution but any form of life we know could well be unrecognizable, or have split into strange variations a million years from now even if we weren’t busy as bees with genetic modification trying to make life the way we want it to be.

What we value, everything we do comes from inside our heads. We are the ones that create the impression of the world that we take as “reality”. There’s no intrinsic value to anything – the universe simply is and a rat is no more or less valuable than a human or a protozoan.

It’s a darn good thing we are in a position to value ourselves because we’ve been able to make a very enjoyable and comfortable life for at least a part of humanity. We could sit passively and let mosquitoes bite us unmolested and microbes destroy us – but we don’t, and that’s a very good thing, isn’t it?

So the way I look at it – don’t feel guilty about making a nice place for yourself on this little planet. If you don’t, nobody and nothing else will do it for you, in fact they will try to take advantage of the situation that you create for them. That’s life!

Elana K
12 years ago

I like the apology part from the previous comment. It’s very Na’vi! And Beth, I had to laugh out loud from the visual of you and Michael with a baseball bat debating what to do about the rat!

But reconsidering about our relationship with certain animals is definitely something to think about. While my kids love looking for mice in the compost bin (which is over 30 feet behind the house), I would have a cow if one was in the house, or worse yet, a rat in the toilet. And while bambi is the thing that comes to mind when most people think of deer and we used to get a huge kick out of watching the mothers and babies napping in our back yard when we first moved to upstate NY, I have come to think of them as rats with very long legs — they eat everything in the garden and have become more creative about getting around deer netting. And really, we are the ones that have encroached upon their land.

12 years ago

That’s crazy! I thought that was just a myth. I hope that never happens to me, because I don’t know what I would do. I wouldn’t want to kill it, but I also wouldn’t want it to bite me or anything. Now that’s all I’m going to be able to think about the next time I use the toilet. lol

12 years ago

While I have not yet (Please, God, never!) encountered a rat inside, I have much the same ambiguous feelings towards the mice that make themselves too much at home in my house. I much preferred it when my cat was alive and took care of the situation for me, but now that I have to deal with it myself, I do the following:
1) announce (out loud) to the world of mice that they are welcome to live under my house, around my house, just not IN my house, especially not in my kitchen. 2) then I set old-fashioned mouse traps on the reasoning that they are the quickest, most humane, most ecological way to kill the mouse. 3) Then, when I actually catch/kill one, I apologize to it and accept that I have just added some unknown quantity to my karma. I may be nuts, but it works for me.