My husband found an injured rodent on our lawn.
So then I had to decide what to do with it.
While Brendan hummed "The Circle of Life" from the Lion King, I considered the following options:
A) Buy a disposal mechanism (aka trap)
B) Drive 40 min each way to wildlife center
C) Strategically leave it under our tree for the cats to find
Some people suggested that I should buy a cage and wheel but keeping injured wildlife is illegal in Ontario and I prefer this kind of rodent OUTSIDE.
The animal was clearly unwell and I was vaguely worried about diseases like rabies. I thought if I took it to the wildlife center we'd find out what kind of rodent for sure, and maybe they'd test it for diseases and let me know if I needed to freak out more.
Anyway, that's how I came to drive an hour and twenty minutes in order to "rescue" what turned out to be a sewer rat.
Now, this is not our first experience with sewer rats. Ottawa is doing a major LRT construction project for the last couple of years which involves much tunnelling with large machines. This is apparently disturbing the local rat populations (and the ants, but that's another story). In any case, a while ago we had occasion to replace our toilet in the basement and we covered the sewer pipe with a plastic bag. The bag kept getting disturbed, despite many stern warnings to our kids. Then it disappeared altogether. The kids furiously denied culpability. Brendan replaced the bag and put a heavier paint can on top. Then Auntie Janice came down late at night just in time to hear some rustling and see the bag disappearing down the pipe! Let's just say that I was calling the city to get them to DO SOMETHING pretty darn quick and replacing the toilet made it to the top of the priority list.
Given that I got the city to poison the last batch of rats around our place, I didn't quite know how to respond to the wildlife place when they asked me whether they could release "Fred" back into the wild on our property in the event he was able to be rehabilitated. They also got me to sign away my visitation rights and forbade me to share the picture I took of Fred at the rehabilitation centre online.
I thought that was the end of it, but it turned out that Fred had a friend. A defunct friend. I called the wildlife rescue back and find out that they don't test for diseases, that Fred had unfortunately not survived, and they had no idea why we were suddenly infested with dead and dying rats. "Probably you have a nest", they said. I had no sooner buried corpse number two when... you guessed it - rat number three appeared! I ended up burying two more. We also located and filled in the rat hole (under my forsythia bush! the nerve!!). I've been eyeing my flower beds and the rat hole somewhat suspiciously ever since.