Watch my life unravel...



Top Canadian Blogs - Top Blogs

Local Directory for Ottawa, ON


Sorry about the rats

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.

13 comments to Sorry about the rats

  • deb

    The silence is deafening…no one knows how to respond to this post. I remember you telling me that the final straw with the rats was when you got up in the middle of the night to nurse James and stepped on one

  • Gillian

    Are you sure you dare say this publicly?

  • lucy

    Oh no, so it was you who started it! But now that you’ve confessed in public aren’t you worried that Mayor Larry will send you the extermination bill? Actually I’m surprised it’s taken so long – almost 30 years? – for the rat infestation to get into the news….

  • Oh dear, I swear I moved from Toronto because of my revulsion at the HUGE Norway rats we had in our house (underground stream ran through our basement past a slaughterhouse and no matter what we did there were always rats there, they could open the screen door and let themselves out after coming up from the basement). Now on a farm, we found rat traps in the basement, so I know they have been an issue in the past. I seem to have relayed my disgust with them to Wild Thing. We have a 2 ft long corn snake, he’ll pick up worms, crayfish, all manner of sea creatures….but when Duckie asked if she could bring a pet rat here he immediately said “No! Rats can eat kittens and they poop on EVEYTHING”

  • The reports of rats in Confederation Park are somewhat puzzling to me. I work very close to the park and often grab my lunch and go sit on a bench to, along with others, watch the people going by, relax outside an office setting, and to interject a bit of sunshine and nature into my work day.

    While I have seen many strange and interesting things there, I have never once seen a rat.

  • Deb, I know, eh? Sometimes I think I divulge too much. (I do recall stepping on one in the middle of the night…but we got the first rats when James was 15 months old, and I’d stopped nursing by then. I might have gotten up because he was crying in the middle of the night or something.)

    Gillian and Lucy, I’m starting to wonder if maybe you’re right. :) But I don’t really think the current rat infestation at Confederation Park is related to my rat delivery there. After all, it was 27 years ago. I’m pretty sure my rats would have overwhelmed the park months if they were going to.

    Mudmama, I remember your vivid descriptions of them. Something about a tail…it freaked me out.

    Stageleft, rats are generally nocturnal. Not completely, of course. But you’re far more likely to see them if you have a midnight snack in Confederation Park than lunch.

  • Jen

    Did John not like cats? I think it would be easier to get a couple of cats to take care of the rats instead of move around so much.

  • deb

    GC should take heed, and maybe three birds is “quite enough”.

  • Another blogger I read posted that the 8th guy from told her “I’m sorry but after reading your blog I’m no longer romantically attracted to you” and I keep thinking about THIS blog post and wanting to send those guys here – I mean really if her talking about her sheep is turning them off, this would freak the hell out of them!

    I keep giggling about this post and rereading it!

  • aww, I saw the rats there and liked them. when the park gets overcrowded with people we don’t put out poison bait. such monospeciest blechery.

  • I totally agree with Pearl, until they start mugging people how is it a problem if they live there?

  • […] something, which was that he was a lousy mayor. I had the best birthday ever. I apologized for the rats, got hooked on the Hipstamatic, and Mayor Larry was soundly thumped in the […]