Huge Hordes of Rats Infest DC : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Oh boy, this takes the cake! Everything else too.
The hub of Feb goobermint, mired in DC, which is known far and wide to be a deathtrap of non-compliancy -- and look who is growing and waiting to mop up. Unbelievable! Gross! Deadly!

Huge Hordes of Rats Infest DC

[ For Educational Purposes Only ]

District Battles Legions Of Rats
Control Efforts Called Faulty

By Eric Lipton, Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 17, 1999; Page A01 [ Front Page Headlines! ]

As dusk drifts into darkness on Euclid Street NW, the end-of-day rituals have begun. Children are tucked into bed, the trash is put out back, living rooms are illuminated by televisions and reading lights.

And in the narrow alley behind the beige stucco row houses, the nightly feeding frenzy is underway. From basement lairs, underground tunnels and countless other hideouts, a hundred rats, maybe more, emerge -- clawing their way up stairwells and fences, dashing across damp pavement, jumping wildly into the air in their nervous battle for nourishment. High-pitched squeals and the patter of tiny feet echo through the alley.

"When night falls, they own the alley," said Noam Brown, whose kitchen window overlooks the feeding grounds. "You open the door and step out and hiss at them [and] the rats will turn and glare at you, sort of like, 'Yes, is there something I can help you with?' "

The nightly scene in Adams-Morgan is far from an anomaly in the District. From Georgia Avenue to Georgetown, from Congress Heights to Cleveland Park, thousands upon thousands of Norway rats take over alleys and yards each night, a testament to a feeble D.C. rodent-control program that city officials acknowledge is so dysfunctional it has created a potential threat to public health.

"Rats as big as cats, rats as big as cats -- I hear that phrase repeated over and over again," said D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1). "I don't think we have a handle on this problem. It's something on a lot of people's minds. It's causing a lot of fear."

It's not the presence of rats that is surprising: Rodents are a fact of life in almost every urban area. It's the extent of the infestation in the District that has caught the attention of a growing number of residents and the new mayor, Anthony A. Williams.

Unlike cities such as Boston and Chicago, which have moved aggressively in recent years to curtail rodent populations, the District has seen a 20 percent jump in rat-related complaints since 1995, including 1,050 filed just since January, according to city records.

The increasing problems with rat infestation mean more than a jarring welcome for residents who might venture into alleys and yards at night. Rats carry as many as 35 diseases, including ratbite fever, salmonella food poisoning and leptospirosis, a flu-like illness. During the past 1,000 years, disease specialists say, the rapidly reproducing rodents have caused more deaths than all the wars and revolutions combined.

As for the District's escalating rat problem, there's lots of blame to go around.

Homeowners leave trash outside for days, in thin plastic bags or barrels that have holes or no tops. Restaurants -- accustomed to years of lax city enforcement -- allow dumpsters to overflow or leave containers of kitchen grease exposed in back alleys.

The rat-control division in the D.C. Department of Public Works -- which still logs rat complaints with pen and paper -- is so short of staff and poorly managed that workers acknowledge that cases are sometimes lost, falsely reported as abated or never followed up. Other city agencies that have launched rat-control efforts have seen little impact, largely because of poor organization.

Williams has announced several initiatives aimed at the city's rat problem, including a "Rat Summit" today at the Washington Court Hotel that will feature nationally known rat experts who will offer advice to D.C. officials, business owners and residents.

Williams's well-publicized "Rid-a-Rat" program targets eight small areas across the city for rat extermination -- a drop in the bucket, analysts say, toward a solution that probably will take several years and cost millions of dollars, plus the assistance of residents and businesses.

"No one should think that this can happen overnight," said Bruce A. Colvin, a Boston ecologist who oversaw the rat-control program during that city's massive, decade-long central artery tunnel project. "It takes perseverance -- a sustained program -- before you will have a success."

Rat-Friendly Environments The dim, flickering light from porch lamps along the Euclid Street alley shows why the place is so inviting to rats.

On a recent Sunday evening -- two days before the city's trash pickup -- many residents already had filled garbage pails with trash. Several of the pails had no tops, or they had holes in their sides, chewed there by rats. Plastic bags filled with garbage were on the pavement, an easy-access feast for the ever-hungry rodents.

Outside nearby apartment buildings, several dumpsters were overflowing, and one was wide open. One of the buildings has a tiny hole along its rear basement wall, and as one rat after another popped his head in and out of the hole, it became obvious that hundreds of rats have taken over the basement. Each time they slid in and out, they added to the greasy smear that surrounds the hole.

For residents who live in the area, rats are impossible to ignore. Five-year-old Jessica Palencia sees them nearly every night when she enters her apartment building with her father, marveling as the rodents fight and scamper about. She examines the dead ones up close after they have been flattened by passing cars.

Other neighbors are afraid to let their cats out into the alley, fearing they will be outnumbered by aggressive rats. And Susan Pietrzyk stopped using her back stairwell after she stepped on the wood stairs one night and a horde of rats emerged, several of them running over her feet as they scattered.

"You hear them scurry, and then all of sudden they are at your feet. It is just startling, creepy; it's not at all a nice way to end your day," said Pietrzyk, 33, an international development consultant who has lived on Euclid Street for seven years. She added that the infestation has gotten "significantly worse" in the last year.

None of the neighbors interviewed said they had been bitten by a rat, and they said they weren't aware of any illnesses that had been caused by the rodents. But several had stories of rat-related damage. The lights on Jose Palencia's car have been knocked out several times, after rats apparently gnawed on the wiring to wear down their teeth, which grow up to five inches a year.

"It is like a zoo out here," said Matthew McKeever, 33, a neighbor who still needs to replace the compressor belt on his car's air-conditioner after two rats took a fatal trip to the car's engine. "But it is not funny anymore. Now it is costing me money."

Trouble on Every Block The city's rat infestation is particularly intense in areas such as Adams-Morgan, where apartment buildings, houses, restaurants and stores are close together. At the Pennsylvania Avenue entrance to Georgetown, rat burrows can be found along nearly every block.

The small, triangular park in front of the Four Seasons Hotel, the dirt path along the C&O Canal, the side yards of the upscale town houses along 28th Street NW, the dumpsters and grease barrels of M Street and Wisconsin Avenue restaurants -- all are food sources or hiding places for rats.

"It flips me out each time I see them," said Isabella Fair, manager at Dream Dresser, a Georgetown clothing store, who frequently spots rats running in the alley behind Wisconsin Avenue. "I run inside and get a broom. I got to get 'em. I got to kill them. The last thing I want is for them to get inside my store."

But the District's rat problem extends well beyond major restaurant corridors.

The Department of Public Works' rat-complaint log reads like a map of the United States: Since January, rats have been sighted on Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Vermont avenues, among dozens of other city streets.

Meryle Secrest, who in January moved to a neighborhood of $500,000 homes on Arizona Terrace in the Palisades section of upper Northwest Washington, was looking out her rear window one recent morning when she noticed an animal "about the size of a small cat" at a backyard bird feeder.

"I got out my binoculars, and only then did I realize I was looking at a rat," said Secrest, author of seven biographies in the fields of art, architecture and music. "I was absolutely horrified. I had not realized I was moving into an area where rats visit bird feeders in broad daylight."

On Brandywine Street NW, one couple has watched in horror as rats floated up into their toilet bowl three times in recent months, an occurrence city officials acknowledge is possible where rats have infiltrated the sewer system.

And on Capitol Hill, Marie-Claire Lispcome said her block of 10th Street NE has become a rat playground of sorts, with rodents commuting between a nearby restaurant that has open grease containers outside and a boarded-up city recreation center where the rats roost.
"They march up and down the street," she said, "like rat parties."

Rat War's Shifting Fortunes
The District has battled rat infestation for decades, with the most intense effort starting in 1968, when officials estimated that half of the city's blocks had a rat problem. At its peak, nearly 140 city workers were assigned to the "War on Rats" program, most of it paid for with federal funds.

But by the late 1980s, the rat squad had been cut to 22. During the city's fiscal crisis of the mid-1990s, cutbacks were made in other city agencies that helped control the rodent problem.

Fewer restaurant inspectors and solid waste enforcement officers, for example, meant that restaurants could allow trash to accumulate in alleys with little risk of being fined or threatened with closure.

Rat infestation in the District doesn't appear to be as bad as it was in the late 1960s, but city records suggest the problem has worsened in the last four years. In 1995, there were 3,846 rat-related complaints. By last year, that number had climbed to 4,643.

Residents can buy small rat-poison devices or traps on their own, but large-scale infestations are left to the District's Vector Control Division or private exterminators.
Mission control for D.C. rat-extermination efforts is a drab, one-room office on the foul-smelling campus of the city's massive Blue Plains sewage treatment plant in Southwest. Scuffed-up walls are decorated with posters of oversized rats and insects, advising the staff to "Know Your Enemy."

Vector Control Chief William T. Page, 63, has Polaroids posted on his bulletin board of notable rat captures he has made in the last 19 years, and he keeps a freeze-dried rat in a nearby freezer. Page is known for his stern manner, dry humor and endless list of obscure rat facts. He oversees a squad of 12 pest controllers, who are dispatched daily across the city to stuff rat burrows with poison.

"We look for where they are hiding, the paths they take, the signs that show where they live, the places where they reproduce and the food they feed on," said Page, a 34-year city employee.

Despite Page's experience, several members of his staff say his management style is outdated and hinders rat-control efforts.

Pest-control workers said that they repeatedly tell Page that the office needs to computerize its records, since the paper-based complaint system now used means rat reports are at times lost or not followed up. If a resident calls and does not remember a case number -- a frequent occurrence -- staff members often must flip through hundreds of records by hand to locate the details.

"There is just a lot of confusion in the office," said pest controller Willie Hannon, a 17-year veteran of the division. "It seems like we are still stuck in the 1950s."

Workers in Page's office use equipment that in some cases is so old that it frequently breaks or works improperly. Several pest-control workers have used tape or glue to hold together the plastic poison applicators they carry to send a deadly powder into rat burrows.

Meanwhile, the office is open only until 3:30 p.m. each day, and there is no answering machine to take complaints after hours or on weekends, noted vector-control workers Doreen Broomfield and Khalaf Johnson.

"At every meeting, we talk about the need for computers and a better telephone system," said Broomfield, a vector-control employee since 1993. "But it never gets done."

The trouble extends beyond Page, workers said.
Broomfield and Johnson said some of their co-workers often report properties as having been treated with rat poison, when they actually never visited the area. And despite a federal law that all rat exterminators must be certified -- a law the city is charged with enforcing for private-sector firms -- one of the city's 12 vector-control staff members has repeatedly failed the test but remains on the job.

Page said that vector control has a computer but that the staff has fallen behind in maintaining records, in part because the computer frequently breaks down.

"It is difficult to keep up with everything," Page said, acknowledging that the paper complaints sometimes are misplaced.

He said that he is behind in ordering supplies -- from flashlights to batteries and poison applicators -- but that he plans to place orders soon.
"I just have not had time to do it," he said.

As for the suggestion that vector controllers sometimes turn in false reports saying they have treated a location, Page said, "I hope it does not happen. It is hard to tell."

D.C. records indicate that, despite repeated complaints by residents, some rat problems have continued for several years. In the 1600 block of R Street NW, for example, resident Joseph Auslander has repeatedly reported an infestation to city officials since 1996. The rats are still there.

A Chicago Model Williams has proposed few changes in the vector-control office.

His Rid-a-Rat program is modeled in part on a successful Chicago initiative. Instead of merely spending more money to expand the rat-extermination squad, Chicago created a team of city workers to attack conditions that allow rats to flourish.

Inspectors with authority over restaurants, trash disposal, public space and housing have gone to neighborhoods with intense rat problems and eliminated food sources and hiding places for rats, said Terry Levin, a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation.

"We go door to door, talk to the people, bring them outside and say, 'Look at your back yard, it is full of junk, loose trash [and] dog poop; those are all conditions that allow rats to survive,' " Levin said, adding that in the last two months alone, 40 city restaurants have been closed because of rat problems. "If you try to kill rats one by one, at most it is a holding action. You are merely keeping the population stable."

The D.C. government is establishing similar squads to focus on rat-infested pockets in each of the city's eight wards. So far, the effort has begun in only two areas -- along Georgia Avenue and in Georgetown.

The city has ordered 50,000 heavy-duty plastic trash containers that this summer will be distributed to households in neighborhoods with persistent rat problems.

Meanwhile, rodent-control experts and residents of neighborhoods plagued by rats say they hope Williams succeeds in reducing the rat population. The experts said it will take a cooperative effort by the city and its residents and businesses.

"It can be done. It has been done in other cities. It does work," said Colvin, the Boston rat expert, who toured rat-infested District alleys yesterday. "But no one can do it alone."

) Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company


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-- Leska (, April 17, 1999


Can you imagine what DC will become by 1/3/2000, with the power off, the sewers backing up, the water off, the garbage uncollected? !!

"Rats carry as many as 35 diseases, including ratbite fever, salmonella food poisoning and leptospirosis, a flu-like illness. During the past 1,000 years, disease specialists say, the rapidly reproducing rodents have caused more deaths than all the wars and revolutions combined."

The Plague starts in Washington DC.  Creepy, disgusting, a very real problem. How can any government be so incompetent and "dysfunctional"!?

There have been previous threads on Y2K disruption-caused garbage & raw sewage accumulation creating an unclean noxious environment wherein disease, infection, epidemics, and plague run rampant. To have hordes of large bold rodents already multiplying in a crowded city where they *know* they will have services interrupted is asking for disaster!

Remember medical & emergency services also will not be up to par. Lighting at night will be curtailed. Laundry will not be easy. The mind boggles at the implications.

mmmmmmmm mmmmmmmm mmmmmmmm mmmmmmmm mmmmmm

-- Ashton (, April 17, 1999.

Ack! Ack!

But at least we know the rat-control division will be Y2k compliant:

"The rat-control division in the D.C. Department of Public Works -- which still logs rat complaints with pen and paper. . ."

Got bubonic plague?


-- FM (, April 17, 1999.

District Battles Legions Of Rats

LOL! I know it's grim, but....

We've always known this battle raged on. It's just until then we thought the 'rats' were the politicians. Too many jokes here...

PJ in TX

-- PJ Gaenir (, April 17, 1999.

I made the mistake of leaving a half bag of birdseed in my garage last fall on a shelf. A week ago I needed to get something off that shelf, and dicovered birdseed all over the place, with mouse droppings all around. I set some traps and also a bunch of those square plastic things with sticky stuff on it that catches the mice. In the middle of the sticky stuff I put a dab of peanut butter.

I caught a total of 18 mice within a week! I caught 2 mice in traps and the rest in the sticky stuff! Several times there were 2 mice in one sticky stuff square and one time I got 3 at one time! I bought the sticky mouse traps at the dollar store. There are 4 to a package. I'm really sold on these new mouse traps!

-- smitty (, April 17, 1999.

Heeheehehe, PJ, when I first saw the link I assumed it was about, well, you know, the obvious ... then to discover it meant actual rodents!

Yeah, FM, but knowing their timing, they'll give in to pressure and buy a used 486 Win95 and automate everything and never hear about upgrading etc.

Any Yourdynamites working in DC have rat encounter stories? Not safe to venture out at night ... eeewwwwwwwww.

xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx No way they'll go into Y2K without their manual advantage! <

-- Leska (, April 17, 1999.

RATS have always been the problem in D.C., and WE elected them!

-- Sara Nealy (, April 17, 1999.

Leska, you beat me to the submit button! Serious concern about rats, for me, is actually in terms of how they spread the kinds of diseases that may begin to crop up when sanitation breaks down.

-- Sara Nealy (, April 17, 1999.

Absolutely, Sara. In the SouthWest there's a newish fatal rodent-spread virus, Hanta, which is now popping up elsewhere. The rat urine & droppings spread the disease which ppl inhale. There's a respiratory plague too. Fun times a'comin ...

Who will be the Pied Piper of DC?

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-- Leska (, April 17, 1999.

Store lots of Vitamin C. It was used successfully in fighting off the bubonic plague. ( Well, not in pill form, it didn't exhist yet)

-- Moore Dinty moore (, April 17, 1999.

With the biggest rat of all being in residence in DC, I don't know why this story is news - it should be obvious - all the other rats are trying to be close to their king.


- Got Rat Repelant?

-- Greybear (, April 17, 1999.

Sounds to me like the good citizens of DC have made a tradeoff. You can take simple rat-prevention steps (like boarding up hideouts, putting out poison, using a sufficient number of rat-proof garbage containers, etc.) OR, you can have rats. And the decision has been made by popular mandate -- the rats are less of a nuisance than the effort to suppress them. OK, they made the choice. The fact that they are now overrun with rats and STILL won't take preventive steps shows that they approve of their choice. This is as it should be.

It's not the government's job to enforce common sense.

-- Flint (, April 17, 1999.

Well, Flint, that depends upon what a person's philosophy is regarding "Why Does Government Exist, and What Is Their Role?"

If the Government has not done a good job EDUCATING their people, then mass stupidity will be a problem. Does Government exist to protect the majority of people and ensure public safety and general well-being?

What is *your* feeling of what Govt is supposed to do?

Say you live in the midst of the rats, but you are clean and have secured garbage and clean yard. Should you suffer because of the slobbiness of your neighbors? Do you think Govt should, for the health of the city, rid it of rats? Do you think the Govt should respond to your legitimate request for rat-eratication help?

Would you lodge a complaint or just move? What if you moved to a place that had another problem? Who ya gonna call for problem extermination?

Will you take the "law" or "problem" into your own hands?
What do you believe?

What about all those tax dollars funding govt? Do you think you have paid enough to be able to request remediation?
What about common sense? It costs less to eliminate a problem at its root than to pay and pay and pay for complications and treatment while the problem still multiplies and festers and mutates.

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-- Leska (, April 17, 1999.

Yes, Flint, I believe it IS government's job to protect the mentally ill, the ignorant, etc. I know that this may be perceived as a Democratic's point of view -- very touchy here on this board -- but, nonetheless, I think they should step in and support when information dictates it is the prudent thing to do. That's what we pay them for, right?

-- Sara Nealy (, April 17, 1999.

(That's "Democrat's" point of view.)

I HATE when that happens. Leska, you've got the fastest submit button on the Forum.

-- Sara Nealy (, April 17, 1999.

Sara, I have an iMac! Wheeeeeeee! Using a 56k modem which usually connects at @ 46. Have a friend with cable whose responses on another Forum appear almost instantaneously. Wow! Since we go from pt home to pt home, ISP dial-up works well as it is mobile with no hassle. Just plug in & post. Nice! We need another iMac (they keep getting better, natch) so we're not jostling each other competing for screen scream time ;-} Only reason I post more than Ashton is I type faster. But he thinks faster :-)

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-- Leska (, April 17, 1999.

I thought you meant "bureaurats".

Scope International used to call their newsletter "Mouse Monitor" (now just "Monitor") in "honor" of the "bureau(c)rats".

-- A (, April 17, 1999.

LOL, A! From now on: BurrowRats! Thanx  ;-D

-- Leska (, April 17, 1999.

Hi Folks,

1. That article explains why, here inside the beltway, we make all politicians and lobbiests wear suits, ties, and hats - so that we can tell them from the indigenous fauna...

2. The rat problem has been a problem for a while. Several years ago I was driving home through the district about 11.00 p.m. and on a main thoroughfare just off of Mass Ave I observed several large rats hanging out around a public trash can that was placed near a sewer opening - as I drove by, one rat dived into the sewer, but the other two or three just sat there watching. Last year, walking from the parkinglot to my apartment (I live in one of the Virginia inner burbs) I saw a large rat sitting by one of the storm sewers. It didn't bother to run until I was about 10 feet away, and then it just sort of ducked into the sewer opening, but it obviously wasn't running, just getting out of my way.

this city is full of rats and cockroaches...I'm no sure, Leska, but I think the medical term is "pandemic"?? (i.e. they're everywhere).


-- Arlin H. Adams (, April 17, 1999.

Arlin, no wonder you & your intended are moving! I'd aben outta there fast ago.
"Pandemic"= "Prevalent over a wide geographic area, as a disease. [Greek: pandemos, of all the people]
Do rats eat cockroaches?

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-- Leska (, April 17, 1999.


ACK! What do you do with the mice after they're "glued on?" Are they alive? ACK! Funeral pyres? "Ashes, Ashes, they all fall down?"

(. . . and. . .if nukes ever fly, won't the cockroaches be alive to eat the rats? ACK!)

-- FM (, April 17, 1999.


Answering your questions at the level they deserve would require large books. They are *very* good questions.

First, I think we need to understand that the government isn't a bunch of arbitrary aliens. They are us. The government is of, by and for the people, and we're the people. Many of us are also government employees, there isn't any clear 'us' and 'them' going on here.

We need to be very careful about this. Otherwise we fall into the trap of blaming 'them' for brainwashing us if 'they' educate us, and then turning around and blaming 'them' if we're uneducated. This is the path to darkest Andy-ism.

Yes, I believe there is a role for government here, in assisting the effort to control rats. Note that I say 'assisting'. Some of this assistance is education, some of it is property management policies, some is active eradication efforts, etc. Without public support, these government efforts are necessarily limited. If people refuse to do their part, this isn't the fault of the government. If people refuse to fund rat control efforts with their taxes, this isn't the government's fault. If people insist on electing crack addicts for mayor, this isn't the government's fault. If people fill their yards with trash, this isn't the government's fault.

A government presence level to control rats (or anything else) effectively, with the level of non-support being exhibited by the residents of DC, would be truly oppressive. Any government we're comfortable with absolutely requires cooperation from its citizens. Cooperation means funding and personal efforts. The government can be an excellent means to centralize effort and information, disseminate useful advice, establish effective rate-control policies, etc. They can provide effective management. *We* are the ones who must take advantage of this information. If we don't, the government must either be helpless or become a police state.

Anyway, it seems pretty reasonable to suspect that the rat problem is just one more symptom of DC demographics. Look them up.

-- Flint (, April 17, 1999.

Same questions, FM -- do they just wiggle until they die of exhaustion? Do the trappers just toss the twitching dying contraption in the garbage? Poison, traps, all this is awful! A mythical piper leading all in a procession to quickly drown sounds more humane. [ River must be sorta clogged afterwards :-P
It comes back to, what is the "best" way to die? In an Infomagic spiral, that will be a prevalent concern. AACCKK!

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-- Leska (, April 17, 1999.

To smitty and FM:

A few years ago our house was infested with mice. We used the sticky traps with a pretty fair degree of success, but they do have drawbacks. I recall hearing the squeals of terror and pain as the stuck mice died. At least the old style traps killed them quickly.

Every time I have to kill a mouse I can't help but think about the pet rodents, often not as cute as mice, that I have bought houses, food, and vitamins for. There but for the grace of God...

-- Pearlie Sweetcake (, April 17, 1999.

Flint, I agree with almost all of what you wrote. Thanks for addressing this a bit!
Working with some gov people, they do seem a bit more convoluted and "programmed" in their thinking than non-gov folks. More whittled into a box. But we haven't been around enough of them to make a fair assessment.

I've always thought the #1 duty of a government should be the objective intelligent fair education of its people. All education, as far as any want to take it, should be free. It can only augment the good of the nation.

Unfortunately, then the problem of the "curriculum" comes in, and corruption of data, slant, "propaganda."

Again, what if the people refuse to act on all the scientific practical facts they have learned? Who will enforce right behavior? Who can instill common sense?

The govt cannot be teacher, police, Mommy & Daddy & benevolent patriarch. But neither should it be an ineffective feeble rat-infested incompetent tax drain.

I don't have the answers, but I do know to have a capital invaded and intimidated by cat-sized rats with sanitary disasters upcoming is UNACCEPTABLE.

The people definitely have an obligation to change all and any behaviors that contribute to the problem. In this case, because of the severity of potential outcomes (pandemics ;), fines and enforcement and door-to-door education & neighborhood outreach meetings seem appropriate.

Isn't there a saying, Who Will Pay The Piper?
Does it come from the plague legends?

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-- Leska (, April 17, 1999.

Flint commented:

"We need to be very careful about this. Otherwise we fall into the trap of blaming 'them' for brainwashing us if 'they' educate us, and then turning around and blaming 'them' if we're uneducated. This is the path to darkest Andy-ism. "

Flint, talk about SPINNING this takes the cake. I hope and pray folks can read between the lines of this CLAP-TRAP. As though blaming the government if we are not educated is the only alternative to the government educating us. I must admit you are a MASTER SPINNER.


-- Ray (, April 17, 1999.


Back to reading comprehension 101 for you. I said this was a *trap*. I said falling into this way of thinking is a *mistake*.

As a suggestion: read first. Then think. Then respond. That way, you won't look foolish *all* the time.

-- Flint (, April 17, 1999.


"Squeals of terror and pain?"

Thanks for telling me this. If I ever need to buy a mouse trap, it's gonna be the old style spring kill-em-right-away one for me.

Besides--I don't want to have a "bird on my head day."

If you don't know what that means, rent "Forget Paris" with Billy Crystal. There's a scene in that movie that relates to this thread and it's hilarious. Hint: The glue trap doesn't catch a mouse.


-- FM (, April 17, 1999.


I do BLAME the Federal government for the state that our public education system is in. Over the last 30 or 40 THEY have desecrated it in the name of liberalism. They have fought the school voucher system along with the left leaning NEA while the sheeple were in their long coma.

I will not blame the Federal government for the failure of Private schools. Home schooling has become a national pastime because the Federal government has FAILED so miserably in providing GOOD basic education.

The Federal government has failed in MOST of what it has attempted to do over the last 30 or 40 years and now it is FAILING in its attempt to remediate its computer systems.


-- Ray (, April 17, 1999.


I can't argue with that too much. But you need to spend a bit of time studying the role of government in education. It has certain funding and regulatory powers, but what we're really taught (and not taught) isn't dictated by the government from scratch. New theories of learning come into vogue all the time. NEA is important, because protecting jobs is more important to those who *have* those jobs, than educating children.

Most of what the government has ever tried to do, has been less than fully successful (often FAR less) because, as I said earlier, without public support, government programs are a waste of effort. The support of a few well-funded special interest groups may be sufficient to establish policies and pass some laws and get some programs going, but these won't work well if the affected people don't go along with them.

Even absolute monarchs required the consent of the governed if they wanted to rule effectively.

-- Flint (, April 17, 1999.

Blame the government. Vomit. Whine.

How can I buy my new Chevy Suburban and more friggen guns if the damm government expects me to pay taxes for education, and sewers, and shelters for the mentally ill and destitute?

This is the atitude that Pollys display. You people really believe that you could stand alone. What a joke.

Americans who think that they are independent are living in a dream world. A gun and a pickup truck does not make a man.

Neighorhoods and community is strength.

The sprawl is weakness.

You sprawl this planet, you die, we die.

-- Breederkiller (, April 17, 1999.


Why is it the Federal government and the NEA FEAR the school voucher system so much? They have fought it tooth and nail. They say it will hurt childrens education. I give the parents more credit than the Federal government or the NEA. If school choice is as bad as these folks say, parents will go back to public schools or home schooling.

Both the NEA and the Federal government KNOW the answer. If they allow school choice the public school system is finished along with thousands of unqualified teachers.


-- Ray (, April 17, 1999.

Anybody have answers to the rat-related questions? Gilda on another thread says her cats catch rats.

About schools ~~ post-Y2K, schools may go back to local community all-involved efforts.

There were post-Y2K-job threads where both "exterminator" and "teacher" were mentioned as being foreseeable job possibilities.

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-- Leska (, April 17, 1999.

Those sticky things are inhumane. I don't want mice, but I'm not going to use those things. All animals are capable of feeling terror and pain, but not from me.

-- gilda jessie (, April 17, 1999.

Thanks for the testimonies about the sticky traps. That may stop a rat newbie from buying them.

Do the plague fleas then get on the cats, and do the cats get sick? What other animals besides humans get the plague?

AND, what's the deal with the sudden pictorial ads appearing at the bottom of the threads? Is is trolldom or is Phil funding a way to develop a search engine?

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-- Leska (, April 17, 1999.

If people choose to live in filth, they will have vermin. Those who don't care to live in filth will vote with their feet, if they haven't already, & move to the suburbs. Simple as that. (Isn't it cool how we've all managed to tip-toe around the race issue here...?)

-- no longer (in@the.district), April 17, 1999.

Boyoboy. One thing I really enjoy is watching how every thread, no matter what its actual topic, can end up being about something completely different. "Rats in the streets" is now "liberal pseudo-education."

Actually, I had a liberal California education. Had I not read an average of 10 books a week from the time I was 8 years old till I was 18, I would have been like many of the people in my senior class -- unable to read a newspaper faster than a seven year old, unable to balance a checkbook. With the exception of how to make an outline, something my 6th grade teacher taught me, I actually consider ALL my "real" education "self"-education.

The federalization of education was a well intentioned but as usual disastrous policy, the "business" of textbooks has further worsened the situation, the sound-byte level of media contributes, as does Television (intensely) and the lack of much parental guidance, lack of enforced church time et al. in our culture pretty much wraps it up: no attention span, minimal learning ability, lousy education, and we wonder why so many people are idiots.

There, I did it, I successfully continued a non-topic. Now to get back to the actual topic of this thread....

Rodents are a huge, huge problem. IMO bugs are too -- even fleas and ticks spread disease. One of my first plans was to store (a) room foggers, (b) bug sprays (like for getting ticks off animals and people) and (c) traps for rodents.

Just over a week ago I adopted two puppies from a local farmer. The other day we discovered, to our horror, that they each had about 300 huge ticks in them. They looked like small potato bugs they were so bloated. It was so horrible I actually cried (really disgusting, in the ears, between the toes, at the anus and under the arms). They are not nearly as easy to get out as people think, and it HURTS the animal when the bug responds as you try. We finally got spray, sprayed all the concentration points like crazy, and a day later they're gone, they died and fell off. If I hadn't been able to do that I would really have been at a loss, and the poor dogs would have continued to whine and cry in misery.

Worse, what if someday my kid went somewhere and came back with half a dozen ticks on her? BUY BUG SPRAY. STORE IT. It's expensive even now, and I'm certain it'll get used eventually.

When I was a kid in OK my parents tried to catch a rat in our house. It was smarter than they were alas. We had huge holes chewed in the walls. We couldn't keep food much of anywhere. Rats can chew through even some pretty hard stuff. This rat, any kind of a trap, the rat would push rocks into/onto traps till they went off, then eat the food and walk away. Poison would have been real helpful then. I remember my mother being SO pissed off she actually sat with dad's 38 in her lap one afternoon waiting for it to peek its head through a hole so she could blast it. That's just one rat. Imagine hundreds of them. Yukkkkkk.

I wanted to catch mice in a former apartment. I didn't want to kill them. I bought a humane trap. I carried them a block away and dropped them into the bushes near a big field. Once my body, without my brain in gear, opened a drawer, saw a tail still sticking out, grabbed the tail and held the mouse up by its tail. I was so surprised myself that I actually screamed. This pour mousy hanging by its tail a foot from my face was probably screaming too. That worked then but it won't work now. Keep the cats and dogs away from the poison and knock off the rodents is what I'd do now.

"Where will they live?" "Let them die." I realize applying that to any creature is not fully sane. But I'm even a little worried, if Y2K is a bad scene, that the cats and dogs everybody sets loose 'cause they can't feed will also become a serious threat. (I'm storing plenty of food for my animals too.) Which is why in addition to buying bug poison and rodent traps, I'm buying a rifle. Not for people, for animals. Which since I'm a major animal lover is kind of hard even to think about, so I usually try not to.

PJ in TX

-- PJ Gaenir (, April 17, 1999.

What's the deal with the sudden pictorial ads appearing at the bottom of the threads? Is is trolldom or is Phil funding a way to develop a search engine?

-- Leska (, April 17, 1999.

I can't wait to read Cory's take of this "rats rule DC" article. Cory being such an ardent fan of the previous DC mayoral administration should provide some keen insight on who's retirement villa the monies intended for rat control wound up paying for.


-- Wildweasel (, April 17, 1999.

The rat-control division in the D.C. Department of Public Works -- which still logs rat complaints with pen and paper

Hmmm, looks like the DC Dept of Works won't be affected by the Y2K problem.....

Mr. K
***setting the traps***

-- Mr. Kennedy (here@home.tonight), April 17, 1999.

Sheesh. I stay away from the Forum for a day and what do I find?! Rats infesting DC... So, what do I do? How do I keep neighborhood dogs and cats from getting into rat poison if I use it? How do I keep them from bothering the garden? (Actually, we've had two years worth of gardens here and I haven't noticed any rat damage... so maybe it won't be much of a problem in my neighborhood.)

Will make sure that the garbage can lid is on tight!!! Any rat control suggestions welcome.

Yeah, what is the deal with these pictorial ads anyway?

Libby in DC

-- Libby Alexander (, April 17, 1999.

Libby, Phil has answered our pic puzzlement at:

Why the photos at the bottom of the threads?

About your fortunate garden -- maybe rats have devolved to prefer yummy garbage scraps & cooked humanimal food better than the fresh salad stuff in gardens?

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-- Leska (, April 17, 1999.

Please, y'all, check with your local veterinary school. They may have a program like NCSU in Raleigh--Operation Catnip. (Hint: the county "dogcatcher" and animal protection [that's a laugh] society don't [won't?] give out info on it, let alone endorse it.)

Used to be that where there were feral cat populations, as in near fast-food and other restaurant dumpsters, the local animal organizations would come in, trap them and kill them. What's being tried in a number of locations is trapping the cats, spaying and neutering them, giving them shots and helping with any medical problem they might have, and releasing them back where they were found. The reasoning is if you take them and nuke them, others will just take their place, Nature abhoring a vacuum. Volunteers, like the Hungarian and meself, go and feed and water the animals on a regular basis.

Trapping is done periodically to see if any new ones have joined the colony. We can tell which ones have been taken care of because the tip of the ear is painlessly removed when the animal is spayed or neutered. Feral cats don't usually live beyond three years or so but the three colonies we feed have been doing very well for longer than that.

I was reminded because one of our colonies is behind a large, brand-name supermarket and the manager wholeheartedly approves because this colony keeps down the rats he sometimes sees out there.

In most reports of the Black Death in London, in 1665, it seems the disease spread so widely because it was thought that cats and dogs passed it on to humans and so they were all killed. Had they not been killed, the plague would not have lasted as long as it did (about a year).

For further info, see the Feral Cat Coalition (San Diego) at

-- Old Git (, April 17, 1999.


if you're in the up-hill parts of Northeast (which is a neighborhood that is actually in the southwest of DC...and isn't that typical?)..anyway if your in Northeast you may be uphill far enough from the older parts of the sewers that the rats don't have to go that far to get enough to eat. The bad parts are down in the older part of the city near the river, and then into Southeast - some of those sewers go back to the mid 1800's and provide a direct route for critters to travel from the river into the city.

I'm trying to remember is it 7th St? where you can smell the sewers at night if the river is up? in that area, and then east from there.

WRT the rat poison - put it in a heavy wooden box that's up at least six feet high (to keep the dogs out)and someplace that wont actually draw the rats closer to you in the process. The problem with using most effective rat poisons (i.e. wafarin based poisons) is that they will also kill any critters that eat the don't let your cats outside if you're going to be poisoning mice or rats...

just my 2 cents' worth on that one, Arlin

-- Arlin H. Adams (, April 17, 1999.

Please, y'all, check with your local veterinary school. They may have a program like NCSU in Raleigh--Operation Catnip.

Old Git -- I lived on NCSU campus in Lee Dorm -- we fed the rats (as large as your average house cat) pizza crusts and such, and they lived right behind the hedge bushes that lined the first floor walkways and breezways into the building.

I'm not surprised their cousins have made it to DC. They are so well trained.

Mr. K
***feeding hummingbirds at the present****

-- Mr. Kennedy (, April 17, 1999.

Maybe when they get together they can brainstorm on controlling rats:

Rust belt cities take on Y2K
DETROIT, April 17 (UPI) - A handful of large industrial cities is working together to fight potential municipal problems from a Year 2000 computer glitch.
The Detroit Free Press (Saturday) says officials from seven cities - Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York, Washington, Boston and Chicago - have joined an informal coalition to swap ideas on everything from ambulance dispatching to traffic signaling once the new year begins.

They don't really mean they're going to start talking "once the new year begins," or do they ??

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-- Leska (, April 18, 1999.

Rats, UGH!

Fortunately, I live in Alberta. I don't know when the province started it's rat free program, but I do know that although we spend hundreds of thousands on it, we save millions. Living just about smack dab in the middle of the province, it makes headlines when rats are seen in the area (I kid you not). It may be cold up here, but there are benefits!

-- Tricia the Canuck (, April 18, 1999.

Flint: "..the government isn't a bunch of arbitrary aliens."

What a naive statement.

-- Mork + Gort (, April 18, 1999.

The govt cannot be teacher, police, Mommy & Daddy & benevolent patriarch. But neither should it be an ineffective feeble rat- infested incompetent tax drain.

That is one of the funniest, truest statements I've heard in awhile.

PJ in TX

-- PJ Gaenir (, April 18, 1999.

There are a lot of problems in the District of Columbia... beyond the rats that wear suits and ties. It has been mismanaged for years. I have seen quite large rats in the back alleys in the late night there (the ones that carry disease), but the quite large roaches or palmetto bugs were the things that bugged me most. Worse, the problem with pests doesn't take the cake now. Poisoning from city owned lead pipes continues in many old neighborhoods and may never be remediated. It shouldn't surprise people, then, that the D.C. government has been quite up front about it not being able to be in good shape for Y2K. The reality is that the Nation's Capitol is in pretty bad shape today. The possibility of outbreaks of the plague and other diseases, however, are of special concern to those living in or near Dee Cee-- especially in the light of potential disruptions caused by Y2K.

There are several varieties (levels of infections) of plague: Bubonic, Septicemic, and Pneumonic. Symptoms of Bubonic plague include enlarged, tender lymph nodes, fever, chills and prostration; Septicemic plague: fever, chills, prostration, abdominal pain, shock and bleeding into skin and other organs; Pneumonic plague: fever, chills, cough and difficulty breathing; rapid shock and death if not treated early. Plague is caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis, is transmitted from rodent to rodent by infected fleas.

Plague is transmitted from animal to animal and from animal to human by the bites of infective fleas. Less frequently, the organism enters through a break in the skin by direct contact with tissue or body fluids of a plague-infected animal, for instance, in the process of skinning a rabbit or other animal. The plague is also transmitted by inhaling infected droplets expelled by coughing, by a person or animal, especially domestic cats, with pneumonic plague. Transmission of plague from person to person (to date) is uncommon and has not been observed in the United States since 1924 but does occur as an important factor in plague epidemics in developing countries.

Traditionally, the CDC has believed that those most at risk of getting the plague were persons exposed to rodent fleas, wild rodents, or other susceptible animals in enzootic areas of western states-- especially campers, hikers, hunters, pet owners and veternarians. However, rat infestations such as those found in Washington, D.C. may be the source of future incidences. That's why I suspect the new mayor is focusing on the rat problem and hoping to do something before Y2K.

Onset of bubonic plague is usually 2 to 6 days after a person is exposed. Initial manifestations include fever, headache, and general illness, followed by the development of painful, swollen regional lymph nodes. Occasionally, buboes cannot be detected for a day or so after the onset of other symptoms. The disease progresses rapidly and the bacteria can invade the bloodstream, producing severe illness, called plague septicemia.

Once a human is infected, a progressive and potentially fatal illness generally results unless specific antibiotic therapy is given. Progression leads to blood infection and, finally, to lung infection. The infection of the lung is termed plague pneumonia, and it can be transmitted to others through the expulsion of infective respiratory droplets by coughing.

The incubation period of primary pneumonic plague is 1 to 3 days and is characterized by development of an overwhelming pneumonia with high fever, cough, bloody sputum, and chills. For plague pneumonia patients, the death rate is over 50%.

From 1971 to 1995, an average of 13 cases of Plague were reported in the United States. Most of these incidences were reported in Western and Southwestern States-- especially, Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas. Obviously, this low rate of incidence is due to the ability of local, state, and national experts to control isolated problems with great speed-- a coordinated effort and speed that might be impacted by Y2K problems.

CDC recommends four techniques for preventing the risk of an outbreak of plague: environmental management, public health education, preventive drug therapy, and vaccines. While environmental management and public health education doesn't seem to be working in Washington, D.C., preventative drug therapy and vaccines remain available for those concerned with a possibility of a plague outbreak during Y2K.

Antibiotics may be taken in the event of exposure to the bites of wild rodent fleas during an outbreak or to the tissues or fluids of a plague-infected animal. Preventive therapy is also recommended in the event of close exposure to another person or to a pet animal with suspected plague pneumonia. For preventive drug therapy, the preferred antibiotics are the tetracyclines, chloramphenicol, or one of the effective sulfonamides. Plague vaccine is available in the United States from Greer Labs, Inc., P.O. Box 800, Lenoir, NC, 28645-0800, telephone (800)438-0088 or (704)754-5327. The vaccine is shipped refrigerated in 20ml vials and should be stored at 2-8 degrees C (35-46 degrees F). According to the CDC, it should not be frozen.

-- Stan Faryna (, April 18, 1999.

Run for the hills! The rats are taking over!


-- How many rats have your preps attracted? (, April 18, 1999.

As I recall, there was some debate early in our history about the location of the capital. The politicians wanted the current location because it was symbolically geographically in the center of the country (as it existed at the time). The engineers advised against locating the capital in a swamp, for many reasons some of which this story illustrates.

Guess who won this debate?

-- Flint (, April 18, 1999.

At least the suits in Dee Cee will have something to eat after rollover.

-- Andy (, April 18, 1999.

Stan, thanks for your factual, practical, informative, excellent post!

pneumonic plague

 is a *dread* Y2K possibility. Visualize crowded emergency shelters, cold, no showers for long periods, primitive sanitation, no garbage collection, dangerous and difficult to move throngs of people, and a fast-spreading highly infectious air-borne plague. Hospitals shut down, transport logistically spotty, medication scarce, communication slow. Cold snowy wet winter, ground hard & frozen, disposal of bodies not so easy or timely.

Have watched pneumonia -- a lung-filling condition that makes the body heavy, tired, and bed-bound quickly, with much coughing, which sprays the droplets. The victims will not be ambulatory (walking).

Would rather freeze & starve in our own little apt than expose ourselves to shelters in these conditions. But how to defend against the roving hungry bands? Humanimals, dogs, rats, fire, disease -- the list goes on, we're all becoming versed in the Oh Oh litany.


But in wildest flights of hope fantasy, the economic ripples of loss of jobs always leave a certain sinking pit in the gut ...

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-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, April 18, 1999.

Good thread. Thanks Arlin for response. We're actually right on Capitol Hill. Will be sure to stock some rat poison, rat traps, etc! Yuck!

-- libby alexander (, April 18, 1999.

Re-read the original Washington Post article, then consider what people claim about "exaggerating" the potential for Y2K troubles. The story is swollen with graphic "touchy-feely" images to create a sense of drama and "immediate action" in the reader. Graphic proof of how one person's "propaganda" can be woven from the same story as another person's "gripping, riveting journalism."

-- Robert A Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, April 18, 1999.


>consider what people claim about "exaggerating" the potential for Y2K troubles. The story is swollen with graphic "touchy-feely" images to create a sense of drama and "immediate action" in the reader.

Good point.

>Graphic proof of how one person's "propaganda" can be woven from the same story as another person's "gripping, riveting journalism."

Now I have some graphic images in mind of Y2k "Rat-bugs" crawling all over mainframe systems when they come out of their hidey-holes!

-- No Spam Please (, April 18, 1999.

wait ... The Y2k Rat-bugs' hidey-holes are _in the computer systems_. When date-triggered, they crawl out all over the applications and functions and procedures run by those computers. That's it.

-- No Spam Please (, April 18, 1999.

... hordes of Y2k Rat-bugs swarming over, and jamming, the gears of inductry, gnawing zillions of holes in the papers stored in the files of bureaucracy, infesting the food chain ...

-- No Spam Please (, April 18, 1999.

... Ick! :-{

-- No Spam Please (, April 18, 1999.

My goodness, No Spam! Gotta "favorite" this thread to help bolster my determination when, uh, dieting. What about millions of rats', uh, leftovers? I guess if they're sewer rats that's not so much a problem, but the others don't flush. There must be a certain, uh, pungent, uh, atmosphere in DC?

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-- Leska (, April 18, 1999.

Cory hasn't responded; rats must not play a big part of his DC life.
Paul Milne is suddenly posting again, with his acerbic teeth:

http://www.d*&DBS=2&ST=PS&defaultOp=AND&LNG=ALL&format= terse&showsort=score&maxhits=100&subjects=& 000&authors=fedinfo*&fromdate=&todate=

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-- Leska (, April 18, 1999.

So, DCers, did that front-page article create sudden community resolve?
Was it all your neighbors could talk about? Did you notice garbage bins suddenly have tight lids on?
Did local news shows carry graphic headline segments on the rats? With lectures on eratication?
Follow-up articles in newspapers? Flyers in the grocery stores? Community meetings scheduled?

It would be an indication of Y2K Prep educational outreach possible methods -- what approach is taken to educate & remediate DCers behavior to rid the rats? -- can that work with an all-out push to get everybody prepared for Y2K?

Not completely rhetorical questions as today we have a Y2K Council Meeting to determine just these things ... so, if there are any follow-ups, please post them here!

[ It would be bleak if that was a one-time article and everybody went back to snooze-trashing & tail-twitching as before ]

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-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, April 19, 1999.

Sorry, nada here with regard to the rat story...same old same old...


-- Arlin H. Adams (, April 19, 1999.

apparently they have burrowed their way into the London Underground where they gnaw away at the 70 year old electric cables

-- dick of the dale (, April 19, 1999.

Some sorta synergy serendipity today ;^) This just up on AP Breaking News (URL worthless):

[ For Educational Purposes Only ]

6/28/99 -- 11:47 AM

El Nino Rain Cause of Rat Proliferation in Southern California

LOS ANGELES (AP) - First it rained cats and dogs. Now El Nino has created a new scourge for Southern California - rats.

Last year's intense rainy season boosted the growth of vegetation, creating more food and places to hide.

As a result, the region has a booming population of rats, mice and other rodents, said Gail VanGordon, an entomologist with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.

Exterminators say their business is up 40 to 400 percent.

``For most of the country, the rodent season is March through November. But in California, it's year-round,'' said Greg Baumann, spokesman for the National Pest Control Association.

The rodents even have a special affinity for the 90210 zip code, full of lush vegetation.

``Beverly Hills has a constant problem,'' said Michael Katz, vice president and general manager of Irvine-based Western Exterminator Co.

Mother Nature setting up the overbearing humanimal for the Plague.

Michael Taylor, time to review rat eratication!

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-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, June 28, 1999.

Oldies but goodies?

We're surrounded! Bi-coastal "rats." There were always rats and mice in D.C. Are they morphing? Or heading for the hills after the latest D.C. news.


-- Diane J. Squire (, June 28, 1999.

My rat eradication (as well as early warning part of the security system) is provided by the firm of "Cammy, Osita, and Graciella": a couple of shepherd mixes and a fully-equipped (as in NOT declawed) calico, all of whom just LOOOOVE to chase lil' (and not-so-little) critters. I also trapped and destroyed rats and mice in my younger days. They make a most satisfying *POOF* when hit with a round from a 12-gauge, but I doubt I'll waste ammo on 'em (ammo too useful for other purposes). Dumping the trap in water is most cost-effective.

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), June 28, 1999.

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