Today (in the snow) I had to shut off the sprinkling system for the winter. Unfortunately, when I took a screwdriver to pry off the lid of one of the automatic system control boxes, I found it filled the brim with acorns, peanut shells, snail shells, dead leaves, and one small rat looking up at me in a very irritated manner, since I'd just removed the roof of his house.
I know I should've stabbed the thing with the screwdriver, but I just couldn't. I felt kind of bad for the little guy (understanding how Robert Burns once felt when he plowed over that mouse's nest -- however, Burns immortalized the mouse with a poem, and I'm just writing a blog post). I sighed and went to get a bandana to cover my mouth, a small gardening trowel, a dust pan, and my oldest garden gloves (since I was going to throw them away after using them to dig through a rat's nest). But when I returned, the little bugger was STILL there. I had to poke him at with the screwdriver before he finally fled!
I then had a good 20 minutes of digging (with a miserable headache on top of everything else) to get all that stuff out of the sprinkler control box. And afterwards, I had to spray all the tools and the box down with Lysol (which probably doesn't kill viruses anyway, but it made me feel a bit better), put out rat poison in the box and all around the bushes, and remove every single item of clothing (even my coat) and put them through the laundry in hopes of killing the virus.
And my main question here is, "If my neighbor's cat is in my yard all the time anyway, why the heck isn't he doing his job?!!!"
Unfortunately, it's probably going to be just my luck to have the rat eat the poison and then crawl back into the sprinkler box to die, instead of dying under a bush someplace where I won't have to dig him out and risk viral contamination again.
Oddly enough, though, in spite of the danger, rats just don't scare me the way spiders do. Maybe if I had to deal with huge sewer rats it'd be different, but this thing was small, only a little bigger than a gerbil. I've had way bigger rats than that before. (Fortunately, none have ever gotten into the house. Knock on wood.)