Detail, east Portland photo, courtesy Miles Hochstein / Portland Ground.

For old times' sake
The bojack bumper sticker -- only $1.50!

To order, click here.

Excellent tunes -- free! And on your browser right now. Just click on Radio Bojack!

E-mail us here.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 4, 2004 1:15 AM. The previous post in this blog was Get out your markers. The next post in this blog is The benefits have run out. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



Law and Taxation
How Appealing
TaxProf Blog
Mauled Again
Tax Appellate Blog
A Taxing Matter
Josh Marquis
Native America, Discovered and Conquered
The Yin Blog
Ernie the Attorney
Above the Law
The Volokh Conspiracy
Going Concern
Bag and Baggage
Wealth Strategies Journal
Jim Hamilton's World of Securities Regulation
World of Work
The Faculty Lounge
Lowering the Bar
OrCon Law

Hap'nin' Guys
Tony Pierce
Parkway Rest Stop
Along the Gradyent
Dwight Jaynes
Bob Borden
Dingleberry Gazette
The Red Electric
Iced Borscht
Jeremy Blachman
Dean's Rhetorical Flourish
Straight White Guy
As Time Goes By
Dave Wagner
Jeff Selis
Alas, a Blog
Scott Hendison
The View Through the Windshield
Appliance Blog
The Bleat

Hap'nin' Gals
My Whim is Law
Lelo in Nopo
Attorney at Large
Linda Kruschke
The Non-Consumer Advocate
10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place
A Pig of Success
Attorney at Large
Margaret and Helen
Kimberlee Jaynes
Cornelia Seigneur
And Sew It Goes
Mile 73
Rainy Day Thoughts
That Black Girl
Posie Gets Cozy
Cat Eyes
Rhi in Pink
Ragwaters, Bitters, and Blue Ruin
Rose City Journal
Type Like the Wind

Portland and Oregon
Isaac Laquedem
Rantings of a [Censored] Bus Driver
Jeff Mapes
Vintage Portland
The Portlander
South Waterfront
Amanda Fritz
O City Hall Reporters
Guilty Carnivore
Old Town by Larry Norton
The Alaunt
Bend Blogs
Lost Oregon
Cafe Unknown
Tin Zeroes
David's Oregon Picayune
Mark Nelsen's Weather Blog
Travel Oregon Blog
Portland Daily Photo
Portland Building Ads
Portland Food and
Dave Knows Portland
Idaho's Portugal
Alameda Old House History
MLK in Motion

Retired from Blogging
Various Observations...
The Daily E-Mail
Saving James
Portland Freelancer
Furious Nads (b!X)
Izzle Pfaff
The Grich
Kevin Allman
AboutItAll - Oregon
Lost in the Details
Worldwide Pablo
Tales from the Stump
Whitman Boys
Two Pennies
This Stony Planet
1221 SW 4th
I am a Fish
Here Today
What If...?
Superinky Fixations
The Rural Bus Route
Another Blogger
Mikeyman's Computer Treehouse
Portland Housing Blog

Wonderfully Wacky
Dave Barry
Borowitz Report
Stuff White People Like
Worst of the Web

Valuable Time-Wasters
My Gallery of Jacks
Litterbox, On the Prowl
Litterbox, Bag of Bones
Litterbox, Scratch
Ride That Donkey
Singin' Horses
Rally Monkey
Simon Swears
Strong Bad's E-mail

Oregon News
The Oregonian
Portland Tribune
Willamette Week
The Sentinel
Southeast Examiner
Northwest Examiner
Sellwood Bee
Mid-County Memo
Vancouver Voice
Eugene Register-Guard
OPB - Portland
Salem Statesman-Journal
Oregon Capitol News
Portland Business Journal
Daily Journal of Commerce
Oregon Business
Portland Info Net
McMinnville News Register
Lake Oswego Review
The Daily Astorian
Bend Bulletin
Corvallis Gazette-Times
Roseburg News-Review
Medford Mail-Tribune
Ashland Daily Tidings
Newport News-Times
Albany Democrat-Herald
The Eugene Weekly
Portland IndyMedia
The Columbian

The Beatles
Bruce Springsteen
Joni Mitchell
Ella Fitzgerald
Steve Earle
Joe Ely
Stevie Wonder
Lou Rawls

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Tuesday, May 4, 2004


Until I became a homeowner, I had never had any experience with rats. That is, the actual rodents, as opposed to their human imitators, of whom I've always known a few. You would think from what you hear that, growing up in the New York City metropolitan area, I would have met up with rats back there. But no, it wasn't until I had my own slice of heaven here in squeaky-clean Portland, Oregon that I had my first close encounter of the rat kind.

When my wife and I bought our first house together, in the Buckman neighborhood, we continued a tradition of the gay couple we bought the house from -- we dutifully filled up the bird feeder on a regular basis. The birds and the neighborhood squirrels (who ran along a fence to get at the grub) shared our bounty, and it was an idyllic scene. After a while, though, we noticed a few holes in the ground under the feeder, which we thought were "moles" (there's the Jersey City genius coming out of me, I'll tell you). It wasn't until an alert friend from Cascade Locks clued us in that we realized that we had a rat problem, and that they were feeding on the seeds that the squirrels were knocking out of the feeder onto the ground.

Our solution? Withdraw the food source. The rats were after the seeds, and so, sorry, birds and squirrels, no more seeds. The birds and squirrels left. The rats didn't. Unbeknownst to us, there was quite a group of them, with an extensive network of tunnels around the perimeter of the house, and when they didn't find food outside, they simply made their way in. We noticed that our uncovered trash bin under the sink was being disturbed, with garbage thrown about the surrounding cabinet.

And then one evening, we returned home to find a rat chomping away on a pizza crust, right in the middle of the kitchen floor. The Mrs. screamed. I swore. Rats! In our house! That we worked so hard for! Etc. My wailings were Oscar-caliber.

Panicked, I picked up the yellow pages. Bad, bad move! Repeat after me: Do not hire contractors based on yellow pages ads. And the more frantic you are, the worse a choice you are likely to make from that source. Don't do it!

We picked out an exterminator who advertised 24-hour service. He promised to send someone out the next day (I guess that was within 24 hours). When the man arrived (a young guy who didn't look like an exterminator to me), we let him into the crawl space under the kitchen, where he suspected the critters were coming in. He was right. The little buggers had been nesting in the pink insulation under the kitchen floor, and there were tunnels and holes all over the dirt in the crawl space.

Oh, and there was a smell. A really powerful stench. Suddenly the saying "I smell a rat" had a whole new meaning.

The exterminator sprinkled some magic rat killing poison dust around, took a big check from us, and left.

The rats didn't. More disturbed garbage showed up. And so we called the exterminator back. This time, the guy answering the phone (not the one who came out) refused to send any help until his powder had more time to work. Then he stopped returning our calls. Finally, we got so mad we called the Better Business Bureau and the state consumer complaint line, where we found out that our yellow page find was a scam artist, recently arrived from Africa, with a complaint sheet already as long as your arm. We kissed that money goodbye, and found another exterminator.

Meanwhile, we got two cats. They were just kittens, though, and the rats probably would have kicked their kitty butts in a fight. The best solution was our decision to clean up and renovate the crawl space, improving the support under it, removing some siding that had rotted away, collapsing the many rat tunnels, and redoing the insulation in which our unwanted visitors had been lodging. Taken together, all of our combative measures appeared to have done the trick, although one of our cats lingered watchfully in front of a small hole at the base of the foundation in the basement for many, many months thereafter.

When we moved to our current house, in Northeast Portland, our rodent episode became a fond memory. In the last year or two, however, we did notice a couple of suspicious-looking holes along the parking strip in front of our next-door neighbors' home. And when our cat assumed his perch next to the larger of those holes, where he would sit for what seemed like an eternity, we knew there were rodents in there. There's another spot out back of our house where some gaps in the stone wall make a nice home for some mice. The cats will sit and stare at that one for hours on end as well.

No big deal. Every once in a while, a dead mouse would turn up near one of our doors -- sign that our mousers had done their work. Last fall one of them even got a fairly good sized rat, which it deposited in the driveway for all to see. Given how efficient our feline exterminators were, we figured we had no worries.

About a week ago, however, a large new hole opened up on our side of the property line with our neighbors. At which point, it was back into full rat combat mode. (Sounds like something that will attract some Google hits looking for Rumsfeld.) Off to the hardware store I drove, returning with two weapons of rat destruction: some bait squares and some gas bombs. I threw a couple of bait squares -- blue waxy things about the size of a Chunky bar, only flatter -- down the new hole. But the next day, the bait was out on the driveway next to the hole, uneaten. I threw it back in there, but I shook my head. The rat didn't seem to be interested in it.

Meanwhile, we bumped into the neighbor, and explaining the problem, we asked her to please locate the lid to her garbage can, which always seems to be off. She did so, and she closed up the can.

The real fun part came next -- the gas bombs. As the wife reminded me, these are shades of "Caddyshack." They are cardboard tubes that look like fat firecrackers, about six or eight inches long and maybe the size of a quarter around. You insert a fuse, light it, and throw it down the hole, and when it starts to smoke, you cover the hole up with dirt. I was expecting lethal mustard gas, and I covered the hole as quickly as I could, but what seeped out through the dirt smelled merely like some moderately rotten eggs. I doubt it could kill a hearty rat. Heck, the Hoboken PATH train station in New Jersey had the exact same smell, 24/7, for years when I was growing up there. Probably still does. And it had tons of rats, who I am quite certain thrived in that aroma. My confidence in this particular technology slumped.

But lo and behold, the hole has been covered up for several days now, and there's no sign of rat life at the moment. Maybe our stinky little friend has moved on.

I sure hope so.

Comments (17)

I hope you yelled "fire in the hole" when you lit the gas bombs. Cinderella Boy beats the rats.

The smell of ferrets is supposed to do the trick -- if the problem crops up, you might want to ask a friendly ferret owner for a piece of ferret bedding to put in the hole.

My dog has singlehandedly taken care of our minor rat problem in our new house.
She's killed one and left it for me in the backyard. She gave the other a serious beat down.
I know this because I came home to blood all over my kitchen. She was pretty damned proud of herself. The rat has not been seen again and it's definitely not under the house. So my dog is back to terrorizing the squirrels.

I had rats show up in my previous house on NE 55th (near Normandale Park). You do not want to poison them! Besides the fact that other animals (or children) may find the poison, the poison does not act immediately so the rat can die inside a wall or some other inaccessible place and then you'll find out what dead rat SMELLS like!

Besides removing any food sources, you'll want to remove any water sources (dog or cat water bowls, pools, puddles). Also rats like woodpiles so moving those away from the house is a good idea.

I got large rat traps and kept setting them until I got all of them. If you have other animals, you'll need to set them up so that they cannot access them.

Good luck!

In my years fielding calls at the City, I've had more than one rat call.

If you haven't, you may want to consider checking out your sewer connection. Sometimes, these pipes break, and the rats come up from the sewer into your yard.

Just a possibility. Best of luck.


Our rat family came from the sewer. We had a hole in the line from the house to the main line. MuCo Vector Control came out for free and dosed our main line. (Sorry Peta people, but this is war.)

The city came out and "camera'd" our sewer line to find the hole. If the hole is in the street, they fix it, if not, you're looking at 2Gs or more. (Ours was in the street... woo hoo!)

We did not notice the holes when we bought the house, because the seller had been hoping that well-placed rocks & bricks would convince the buggers to leave... doesn't work.

Does that really work, Shelley? I suppose your house is too new to find out just yet.

Every house I've owned in the metro area has had rats. I was too full of pride to admit it on the first one, but now I talk about rats like old people talk about their bowel movements.

Read "Rats" by Robert Sullivan if you want to develop a new appreciation for the creatures which will outlive us if we continue to destroy the earth.

Could be worse. Could be cockroaches. And they really will outlive human destruction.

Jen -- I'm not sure if it works, but we've never had rats, here or in Reno (have been ferret owners for ~11 years). A couple of field mice in the old house's garage, but that was it. [We would have a hard time killing rats, though. My husband once had a job in a pharmacology lab killing rats for research, and he still feels guilty about it, 15 years later.]

Your description of the small mounds below the bird feeder disturbs me. We have those same bumps, and I've noticed a network of tunnels re-appearing in the yard. Just a few months ago I had to crawl under the house to retrieve four carcasses that were causing a stink. I'd hate to think that there are more still at large. Worthless cat hasn't helped a bit.

I want to chime in with the "don't use poison" guy. Not only because the rats can die in weird places and stink, but because of your cats. If they make a snack of a slow moving poisoned rat they're likely to get sick too.

Come on, Jack, this story is really just a thinly-disguised metaphor to inform us that you've shifted to the pro-war side of the room, isn't it?

Jack, you are lucky you are just a city kid (NJ, PDX, its all the same). Why, out here in the deep burbs, the spilled seed from the feeders has attracted regular visits by a huge skunk! And, of course, it is so "cute" (funky elegance?) that we dare not take any measures to discourage the visitor. So, around dusk, I am careful when I turn the corner lest I require a tomato sauce bath.

To Sally about cockroaches:

I have never seen any cockroaches in Portland ever (40+ years experience). Have you actually seen cockroaches here (outside of the zoo)? I saw my first cockroach (among thousands), while I was at the U of C. You seem to take pride in the fact that cockroaches will outlive us. That disturbs me, as the other post of yours to which I replied (just found this blog while trying to find the best mayoral vote I could cast). While in Chicago as an undergraduate, I once was walking past the University Hospital, and they were apparently doing some spraying. Unbelievable numbers of roaches were cascading out of the hospital. It was truly disgusting. If you had ever done battle with such creatures, you would not go all PETA--trust me.

To any who are doing battle with rats or mice, I would agree with all who warn about poison. The stench of either decaying is most foul; as is their removal if you follow the scent to their source. I have fought both types of vermin, and the standard traps fail quite a bit. If you would like instructions for my own custom traps (still lethal, since they only improve upon regular traps), I would be happy to send you the elements of the design and baiting techniques if you like. If they stay outside, I leave them alone. If they come inside, then they find me a ruthless enemy.

Elementary school up in 'da 'Hood, on Killingsworth, catches on average five a day. School board says it's not a problem. Hmmmm.. do they have a union, maybe?


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2013
Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
Domaines Bunan, Bandol Rose 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Deer Creek, Pinot Gris 2015
Beaulieu, Rutherford Cabernet 2013
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
King Estate, Pinot Gris, Backbone 2014
Oberon, Napa Cabernet 2013
Apaltagua, Envero Carmenere Gran Reserva 2013
Chateau des Arnauds, Cuvee des Capucins 2012
Nine Hats, Red 2013
Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Roxy Ann, Claret 2012
Januik, Merlot 2012
Conundrum, White 2013
St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012

The Occasional Book

Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 113
At this date last year: 155
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

Clicky Web Analytics