Friday, January 18, 2013

Rats, Cockroaches, and History

I recall a book from my history days.  I was a History Major at Ricks and BYU and graduated from BYU with a BA in History. (I minored in Chemistry.) It was a good field to study,  I learned to read critically and to write crisply.  I learned that primary sources are important and that secondary sources need to be challenged regularly and deeply if the real truth is to prevail.  I couldn’t see any way to make a living with History, however, so I went to dental school.  I think having the degree in History actually helped me get into the University of Washington Dental School.  I have never been sorry of my major.

The book was Rats, Lice, and History by Hans Zinser.  It told the story of how rats with their fleas, and lice with their own pathologic bacteria, played major roles in the history of the world.  Rats  are considered the host vectors of the Bubonic Plague that wiped out about 45-50% of Europe’s population in the Middle Ages, peaking 1348-1350.  That infective agent, bacillus Yersinia Pestis, was carried in fleas that parasitized the rats.  The fleas bit the rats and then they bit the people.  The rats did not die, but the people sure did.  The massive shift in population led to religious, economic, and social upheavals that have had enormous effect on western development.

Tortola Sunset

I was fishing with a friend in Alaska and, as we fought off life-threatening hordes of mosquitoes, we noticed balls of mono-filament fishing line everywhere.  He sagely ventured a prophecy that the earth will be inherited by rats, cockroaches, and mono-filament fishing line.  I could not come up with a valid disagreement.

We had a rat enter our apartment two nights ago. Gaye had gone to bed because we were getting up early to catch the ferry to St Thomas.  I was wrapping up the day and I saw a big gray rat come silently through a hole in the screen door and scurry over under the TV cabinet.  Now I must confess there are few things that I loathe, but mice and rats qualify.  I HATE those rodents!  They give me the heebie-jeebies.  They make my skin crawl.  I consider anything within a mile to be contaminated by the critters.  They are fearless and they multiply rapidly.  So the idea of having one in our apartment was absolutely unnerving to me.  

I ran into the bedroom, flipped on the light (which immediately awakened Gaye), said out loud, “We have a rat in the apartment!”, and picked up a broom to go and do battle with the pest.  I was planning my attack strategy in such a way as to drive it towards the hole through which it entered.  I tried to hold the broom so I would have the best chance of beating the critter to death if it attacked me.  As I was about to maneuver into position, the monster ran quietly across the floor to the hole in the screen and disappeared.  We live on the second floor.  Good Grief!

Wait, I have a theory of the invasion. There is a ledge that runs from our front walkway around to the balcony.  It is wide enough for a rat to do cartwheels.  I’ll bet he came in that way.  Now I know how to lay my defenses.  I knew my ROTC military training would come in handy some day.

I am hunting for rat traps, sticky paper, and even rat poison.  I will lay a field of mines on the balcony and on the approaches that will catch the invader.  I prefer traps because that way I know the varmint is dead.  The sad part is that now I will have to shut the doors to the patio at night.  The night breezes have been cool and refreshing.  Now we are prisoners.  Because of a rat.

Electric Bug Zapper
Large Moth

Coqui Frog

Did I mention that we have mosquitoes and cockroaches and geckoes, too.  The lizards are cute little guys that probably eat bugs.  The insects have got to go.  Here's a photo of a tarantula at the elders' apt. They are harmless.  
Tarantula at Elders' Apt

Stay tuned.

No comments:

Post a Comment