I’m so sorry about the rat infestation at Confederation Park. I honestly didn’t think it would come to this. In retrospect, it’s just surprising that it took so long.
Back in the early 80s, my son’s father, John, told me that he’d always wanted a pet rat, but his mother wouldn’t let him have one, and then his wife wouldn’t let him have one. So I – being young and naive, and wanting to be a cool girlfriend – got him a rat for Christmas.
It was love at first sight and John named him Buddy. And then he promptly went out and bought me a rat. I named her Annabelle. John and I loved Buddy and Annabelle. Buddy and Annabelle loved each other – with great gusto and frequency. In no time at all, they produced a litter of nine baby rats. John and I were delighted.
My delight was not as lasting as John’s however, since the nine baby rats were practically born pregnant. Within a couple of months, there were litters of rats being born almost on a daily basis.
(I finally grasped the concept of compounding interest.)
The cage was full. Way too full. I started giving baby rats to the pet store, but it didn’t take long before they said they had enough.
I did some library research on rat overpopulation, and discovered that there were three likely outcomes:
1. The rats would become homosexual until the population levels rebalanced themselves.
2. The male rats would become aggressive to one another, competing to the death for the privilege of mating with the females.
3. The rats would escape from captivity.
I was rooting for Option #1, which sadly didn’t happen in our case. The male rats just became more ferociously and competitively heterosexual, leading to violence and social decay, and a new social ethic of every rat for himself. It was brutal. The community turned on itself. Things were getting ugly in the rat cage.
And then they started escaping.
We began finding litters of baby rats in our jacket pockets and winter boots and underwear drawers. Eventually even John had to admit that things were getting out of hand.
By this time it was summer – six months since I’d bought him Buddy for Christmas. We considered flushing the babies, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to do it. I ended up gathering a bunch of them in a box and taking them to Confederation Park, where I let them go in the bushes and wished them luck. I knew it wasn’t the ideal solution, but I was truly desperate.
At any rate, it was too little, too late. I got home from Confederation Park to discover three new litters of rats – and that was just in the cage. That wasn’t even counting the rats in the rest of the apartment.
I moved out in July. It wasn’t just the rats; the relationship wasn’t going well. But the rats weren’t helping.
John deserted the apartment a few months later, but he had to move three times altogether before he managed to completely escape the rats. Ironically, he now lives right across the street from the rat-infested apartment, with several large aquariums and several thousand fish. At least they can’t escape.
I’ve always felt bad about those poor landlords and what we inadvertently did to them. They were a nice young family who lived in the building. And now I feel bad about Confederation Park, too.
By the way, I love Robin’s park rat picture.