Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ratilda, our new… pet?

A couple weeks ago, I was taking pictures of Ollie on the roof of our carriage house. He was more interested than usual in the jasmine bush, which he is sniffing here in this photo. Later that night we realized there was something good to be sniffed in that spot.
See the suet feeder cage hanging from the eaves, just behind and under Ollie?
That evening, when the pooch was let out to go check his pee-mail, that suet feeder was swinging back and forth wildly.
No wind. Huh, that’s odd.
After posting my curiosity on Facebook, my Midwestern friends suggested a raccoon or a nocturnal squirrel.
(I thought it might be a possum. Surely nutria can’t climb, right?)
I grabbed the camera and watched. Here’s the carriage house at night.
What’s that on the suet feeder?

Oh my goodness, it’s a rat!

This is the best I could do with the camera, being nighttime, and I couldn’t get very close.
After our little fiasco with getting a hamster (in 2006) our household is now very familiar with rodent gender identification, and this suet- eating rat is a girl.
We names her Ratilda.
She will not become an indoor pet. I promise.
Sorry, Frank and Rachel, but you cannot change my mind on this one.
Our lease prohibits feeding stray animals, and if we are caught placing food outside, it will be considered a pet and we will have to pay a deposit for it. On the other hand, bird feeders are allowed, and I love having bird feeders outside my kitchen windows. The birds haven’t been too interested in either of the suet feeders this year, and the suet cakes are about a year old, so I really don’t care who eats it at this point. But I suppose since we are feeding a rat, it would be amusing to consider Ratilda our pet.
Just until I can get some D-Con into Ratilda’s suet, anyway.
So what’s the dealio with the swinging suet? I stepped to the the edge of the deck steps to get a better picture and she jumped from the suet to the jasmine.
DSCN9906 DSCN9907  
Then she scampered up the trellis into the rain gutter, ran to the downspout, and disappeared.
Aha! She lives in the city storm drains.
Ratilda came back every night and ate the suet until it was down to a thin wafer at the bottom of the cage. Her acrobatics on the suet feeder amused us, but she gave up on hanging upside down, fighting to eat the last little bit, and hasn’t come back.
Time to untangle the feeder from the jasmine and move it to a more bird-friendly spot. With a fresh (and D-Con free) suet cake.

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