Wednesday, September 22, 2010


This is rat central and I have an update for you on the rectory wanderings of Ben and Socrates. The last straw two weeks ago has led us to put poison out. Have they eaten it? Maybe, but they are immune evidently! It must be like crack to them!

The latest terror is that our parochial vicar, Fr. Justin ate some Zaxby's chicken on Monday night, my day off when I go to Augusta for rat respite! He placed his bones (the chicken's) in the carry out Styrofoam container, closed it, place that in its plastic bag and tied it shut and placed that in a open kitchen plastic garbage can in the TV room which is in our living quarters on the top floor of the rectory. The office is on the main floor, our kitchen and dining room are the ground floor.

Yesterday, Fr. Justin noticed that the bag of discarded chicken bones had been opened, a hole had been eaten through the Styrofoam container of bones and that every bone including a used pack of blue cheese was missing. The light weight garbage container was still upright!

Fr. Justin moved the couch and behind it was strewn the chewed on chicken bones and the blue cheese packet licked clean. All that was left were rat droppings marking the stash of bones. It was quite shocking to see!

Last night we placed all kinds of traps and poisons on the third floor, only to discover this morning that of the four traps we set, all had the food removed from them and the traps not sprung!

This is diabolical. I suffer now from current and post traumatic stress syndrome. I don't sleep well at night and dread going to the kitchen in the morning to fix breakfast. I go to my mother's house in Augusta and hear a sound there and think she has rats too! I go on retreat and the same thing occurs.

This is war and I think I'm losing it!


Seeker said...

I completely understand your suffering and it must be hell to deal with as you so aptly describe, but Fr. your writings and sense of humor on this plight are the "cat's meow".
"Perseverance good father".

Teresa M. said...


I think you are approaching this situation from the wrong angle.
All of this conflict and terror in your home can't be healthy for you, Fr. Justin, or the rat.

Instead of viewing this little furry visitor as the enemy, you may want to concentrate on becoming "one with your rat." Or perhaps you need to work on acceptance of your "inner rat."

Of course if those techniques don't achieve the desired results, you can always resort to practicing the Primal Scream.

Seriously, I hope you are able to solve your rat problem soon.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

As confirmation that I am losing it, I did fantasize this morning as I returned from working out that my pet rat was waiting for me outside the door to let him in. How sweet!

Jenny said...

I asked the following question the very first time you posted on this problem. Is there not another residence for you two good fathers to live whilst you work this through? A caring parishioner who could offer such and can perhaps even cook? I would most certainly offer such if I lived in your parish, but alas I am of your former parish.
You are going to have to resolve this by removing ALL food sources from that building and make the commitment to not returning for awhile. NO FOOD SOURCE AT ALL in that rectory except the poisoned variety. (Yes it is possible to put rat poison in hot dogs or cheese sticks.)
THEN the premises and any space under the house and in the attic will have to be seriously sprayed for the inevitable rat mites who will be looking for a new food source (human!) once all rats are dead.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Jenny, I'm not one to impose on parishioners in terms of living with them, but yesterday I was seriously considering renting something until we are reasonably assured that the rat infestation has come to a conclusion. But we have gone to great lengths to secure the interior of the house and our bedrooms. Once rats were able to walk under my door, but that has been taken care of. But yes, this is very disturbing although my sense of humor is medicine for my current traumatic stress syndrome!

Anonymous said...

As I mentioned in an earlier comment, ExLax might work better than poison... And even if it doesn't kill them you will have gotten a certain satisfaction from making them very, very uncomfortable. :)

Top said...

Hey People of St. Joseph's in Macon...I follow this blog and I think it is pretty sad that the Priests who give 100 % to you cannot live in a "rat free" environment. I really don't find any humor in the matter although I admire Fr. AJM and other clery for their perseverance. But I guess you guys will just have to wait until one of your Priests gets sick or worst yet seriously ill, and then you will wake up and realize that the Clergy play an integral role in our lives daily. Imagine you go to celebrate the daily Litury and your Priest is either sick or in the hospital...oh my now who will celebrate the Liturgy??? It is up to the parishioners of St. Joseph's to take care of their Clergy and I will keep you guys in prayer so you will take care of this deplorable living situation that your Clergy so graciously deals with!!!!!!! M

Anonymous said...

Not to cause concern, but rats can get into room they want.

If you won't obtain a cat then consider finding someone who owns one and ask them to give you the hair brushed from the cat. Wrap it in cloth, old socks, stockings, etc. and leave it around the house behind cabinettes, etc. The rat may move if he thinks there is a cat nearby.

I 'let' my cat to a friend and locked him in her house while she was at work to stalk and remove mice. Seemed to have worked. I think he caught a few and the rest went for other pastures. Maybe borrow a cat from a friend. Hint: don't feed it while you are away.


Seeker said...

Hey Top, put a lid on it, take it down a notch, etc.. We love our priests at St. Joseph. I'm sure the staff, parishers and clergy are doing all they can to rectify the situation. This is just a good venue for Fr. to vent, is all.

Anonymous said...

Get a cat, for the love of Pete.

Ben's Uncle Toby said...

Rats generate spontaneously from outdated ideas, antiquated modes of reasoning, and archaic disputations, don't they?

Anonymous said...

Actually, rats simply chew on great things, thinking they have digested it properly when all they actually do is produce dung.


Joan M said...


When Fr. Z alerted us to your problem I had posted my solution to your problems on his blog.

I am living in Trinidad, W.I. and was plagued with mice that could eat cheese (the traditional bait) right off the traps without setting them off.

In desperation, I baited the traps with curried beef, making sure that the meat was removed from the pot before it had softened. You need well flavored meat but tough. Then tie it firmly (with strong thread or thin twine) to the trap.

When I did this, I had set 3 traps - one in my bedroom, one in the living room and the third in the kitchen.

In the middle of the night I was awakened by the trap in the bedroom snapping. I was too sleepy and tired to get up, so I decided to leave it until morning. A while later I heard a noise as if something was trying to get at the trap, so I turned on the light and discovered that the trap had flipped over when it caught a mouse. It seems that another mouse was determined to get at the tasty bait, regardless of the fact that one of it's comrades was dead in the trap!!

So, I took the trap to the kitchen and emptied the corpse into the trash, re-set the trap and went back to bed.

In the morning there was another dead mouse in the trap.

In the living room there were 2 mice dead in that trap and in the kitchen there was one dead in the trap and another lying dead beside the trap - probably it got hit when the trap caught the other one.

Try CURRIED BEEF! You can't go wrong!!

Elisabeth said...

I'd offer to loan you my cats, but my stupid Simon brings mice/rats IN to the house!

As an alternative to poison?
1) humane traps, baited with peanut butter. Seriously.

2) mix equal parts of QuikRete and... cornflour or, better yet, cocoa - and place a good, generous supply of water close by. Gives "hardening of the arteries" a whole new significance. It works. Honest. If you use cocoa, maybe more Quikrete than cocoa... Rats love chocolate and cocoa almost as much as they adore peanut butter.

Wishing you the very best - I've had my own Mouse Saga going on, here, for a couple years, courtesy of the cat who plays "Catch and RELEASE"... sigh.

Anonymous said...


This is a problem you shouldn't have to deal with. There are reasons, you know, why God has given us dogs, and this is certainly one of them! Borrow a terrier (bred to hunt & kill rodents of all sorts) from a parishoner for several days. Depending on the rats, some of them would be a tough match for a cat, so a dog on loan could be your best bet. I'd tell you to borrow an Akita (which can dispatch even groundhogs and coyotes, so would make quick work of a rat)but that might be a bit much as a houseguest until the rats are gone. Borrow a terrier, so, and your rats will soon be history. Better yet, get yourselves a terrier and you'll never have to worry about rats again. Just make sure you get rid of all the poison you've set out for the rats before you bring a dog in.

Anonymous said...

Hi Father,
This will take a few comments to finish. It is too long.
Your only problem is inexperience.
First, don't use poison. Your area is too humid. The bodies will begin to decay before drying out. (A whole new and horrible problem. The smell lasts a long time!)
Second, snap traps are adjustable. Out of the package, they are useless. The metal, L-shaped tang, which holds the thing that sets the trap needs to be bent to make it more sensitive. The closer to 90degrees it is, the easier it snaps. It will not hold, if bent all the way to 90. NEVER TOUCH AN ADJUSTED TRAP that is set. NEVER HAVE YOUR HANDS NEAR THE TANG SIDE OF THE TRAP WHILE SETTING IT. Test the trap with a hammer handle, long screw driver, or other stick. If it snaps when you tap the wooden board, it is too sensitive. It should snap with ANY contact on the tang. If you can move the trap while it is set, it is not sensitive enough, except for maybe sliding it into it's final location. (Push it around with the hammer.) Once adjusted, bait the tang with peanut butter (they can smell it from a good distance,) but not the part that contacts the holding rod thing.
The trap must be properly placed. Rats move around along the walls, only going into open space when necessary, and even then, only when they can't be seen. (Safety behavior.) Not knowing your layout, I'd start behind that couch. Move it about a foot from the wall. Place the trap behind the couch with the baited tang facing toward the wall, and the wooden base touching the wall (the snap thing toward the back of the couch.) Placing the trap parallel to the wall will NOT work. As for the kitchen try for behind the stove. Wherever you put it, it has to be against the wall as described. Placing objects in front of it (trash can, boxes, etc.) will help the rats think it is safe to approach it.

That's part one,

Anonymous said...

Part 2:

Rats, mice, etc. live within 100 ft. of a water source. A water source is more important than food. (You might find a hungry rat, but never a thirsty one. Dehydration eqauls death and animals know it.) Prevent reinfestation by removing the water source. If you live next to stream, etc. or have a water bowl for a pet, you are screwed. You'll have to kill the whole population within 100 ft of your house. (Which, if you do it right, is easy.) The water source can be anything-- dripping hose bibs in the yard, over watering the lawn, toilets with the lid left open. And the source can be at the neighbor's house too. Talk to your neighbors. I guarantee you are not the only victim here. Anyhow, no water is the first defense. I hope you can find the source. It will cure the problem.
Rats can squeeze through an opening the size of a quarter, though over time they will widen it by chewing. Gaps under doors should be 1/4 in or less. Same with any openings for the under house crawl space. Trim all vegetation 6 in. (min.) from exterior walls, 1 ft from roof overhangs, 3 ft for anything that is higher than the roof line. Otherwise, you must seal any quarter-sized opening to the attic space. Inside the house, look for any plaster holes, pipe openings, etc. Stuff the holes with course steel wool and tape over the hole with masking tape. DO NOT just repair the holes. If the rats damage the tape or a new whole appears (you only have to worry about that with sheetrock, and other soft or rotted wall materials,) set a trap in that location. Eliminate the rats before repairing. Other entry points include flexible A/C ducts (they'll chew into them and use it like a habi-trail) where vents are within 2 ft of a flat surface, windows left slightly open, unprotected dryer vents, etc. Walk the perimeter of the entire building.
Lastly, (common sense) don't place any kind of trap outside, or where cats, dogs, or children can encounter them. So-called 'humane' traps are ridiculous. If two animals get trapped inside one, they will fight and kill each other in an attempt to cannibalize each other. Total mess and totally disgusting.
BTW, empty the trap by inserting a screw driver or knife under the wire while holding it over a trash can. Rats are pretty nasty. Don't touch 'em. Sorry this was so long.
In Christ Jesus,

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Thanks John! We killed our 5th big one last nite! And yes on our living quarters floor. Will poat pic next week! Frajm

eulogos said...

Do you have a cat? A couple of cats?
A couple of young, vigorous cats really do make a difference!
Susan Peterson

Kent said...

Fr. Don't know what kind of traps you are using but you might try searching "Intruder, Inc. 16500 Mouse And Rodent Traps" at I use a smaller model baited with peanut butter for mice and they are very effective. Good luck.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Of course I'm suffering in @anama beach as I comment, but Fr. Justin sent me a picture of sucess, a very large dead rat, that one of our large traps got two doors down from my bedroom! I can't post with my blackberry but will when I return. This rat #5 we've killed, 4 in the kitchen one in our bedroom area! Yes I am freaked out and pray #5 is the last!

Patrick J said...

1.) Cat, preferably with some farm experience. If the rats are big, get a bigger cat. I know of one that downed a full grown woodchuck without so much as a scratch to herself.

2.) Terriers are good to...I suppose. I am not too sure, as the last terrier-cat conflict that I've seen went poorly for the dog. Of course, the cat was big Maine coon tom.

3.) Poison works, if you keep water nearby. Most rat poisons are blood thinners. If there isn't anything to drink, they won't feel a thing. I've had a few people suggest a dish of antifreeze, but that just causes more problems. Also, dead rats rot, and dead rats rotting in walls can be worse than live rats.

4.) Remove all open food from the area. Empty the garbage nightly. Use bleach and scrub all surfaces. Fill holes with coarse steel wool and tin foil. I've heard dryer sheets are good too. Pretend your house is Russia, and the rats are Napoleon's army.

Good luck and God bless!

JennyH said...

My husband has been known to bait traps with dog food and peanut butter. But, he will use hot glue to glue the dog food on to the trap and then smear with PB. Nothing gets him going like a trap that has sprung with no critter in it! We caught a pack rat once that way.

Black Biretta said...


BEEN THERE, DONE THAT. I am pastor of two small parishes, both of which reside on the west shore of the Susquehanna River (next to Harrisburg, PA). When I arrived in June 2002, I initially thought we had a mouse problem, finding bread bags chewed into. Got a cat only to discover we did NOT have mice, rather we had a RIVER RAT infestation. One rat actually slid into the candy machine of the social hall and ate a Kit-Kat bar. Evidently, the township did some sewer work and that upset the rats. They were eating at the trash container behind the pizza shop (one block away) but came to my rectory to sleep it off. Our Lady of Good Counsel became a Holiday Inn for the rats, so to speak.

DISGUSTED, I had the exterminator lay traps and poison packs which the rats treated as toys. Sticky paper caught one ALIVE and I had to wack it with a shovel (being Italian, it came second nature).

The only SUCCESS we found was something I discovered on the Internet: RAT-ZAPPER. About the size of a shoe-box, it was plastic with a metal plate at the end and used 4 D size batteries. A few morsels of food (looking like cat food) are placed inside. The rat goes insides, takes a bite and ZAP!!! He is humanely electrocuted. All you need to do is empty the trap into the trash container.

We got SIX RIVER RATS (size of ferrets) in all. Also found a fist size hole in our sewer pipe in the basement. Entry area ONE. Plumber replaced the decayed terra-cotta with plastic and buried it underground. Also found holes in the dirt walls. Filled them with Brillo pads and squirted liquid plastic (dries into hard plastic, almost like cement) into each.

Been rat free for seven years (Deo Gratias). Still have a cat as his scent keeps mice away and he does eat the little creatures that venture inside. But only technology (or a shotgun) can rid you of rats.

Good Luck. Get a RAT-ZAPPER a.s.a.p.

Fr John Trigilio