Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Upstairs, Downstairs

They're all rattus norvegicus, but there is a world of difference between the two.

Upstairs, they are pets. We call them fancy rats; hooded, masked, Berkshire, with or without "dumbo" ears. They come in white with dark hoods, beige, fawn, silver and brown. We hold them and walk around with them on our shoulders.

Downstairs, they are pests. Their color is agouti brown. It's a hard-knock life, but they are infinitely skilled and resourceful. They tunnel into crawlspaces and push through hardware cloth. Block one hole and they emerge from three more. They are especially fond of ramen noodles.

I have company in my basement. As I type in my office, I hear a critter happily rustling among cartons that should be cleared out. I have considered poisoning it, but I did that in November--with predictably unhappy results. (When you have a cluttered basement, you really don't want a dead rat.) Eventually I will have to call in the Neutocrete guys to seal the crawlspace--probably the only thing that will keep the downstairs critters out.

Meanwhile, I have my respectable upstairs rats to play with.

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