Thursday, April 2, 2009

rodents = fail

Roommate the Blonde is in the habit of taking our rats out and taunting them with threats of being kissed on the nose when she gets home from work in the morning. Last week, she was in a hurry to get to class and accidentally left the cage door hanging open when she went.

I notice this when I go out to the kitchen for something, by which time it had been open for at least half an hour. I do not immediately see any rats.

Oh shit, I think. Our heating grates are on the baseboards and the design has lots of rodent-sized holes. Our sofa is a sleeper sofa and has all kinds of intricate hinges and springs inside. The accumulated laundry of three people covers the living room floor, waiting to be done. I have no idea if we have a solid toekick underneath the dishwasher. None of the other doors in the house have been shut.

As I lean over the cage to check behind the tchotchkes on the adjacent bookcase, where Nick likes to jump, and behind the hamper-cum-cage stand, where both of them are just dumb enough to fall, I hear rodent claws on cardboard. Two little heads poke out of the little box-house on the bottom of the cage.

That's right. Ladies and gentlemen, our rats were too lazy to escape. Roommate the Blonde put them back in the cage, leaving the door wide open, and they went to sleep. Aside from constantly claiming that they're starving, they are complete epic fail at being rodents.

Rommate the Blonde now tells me that her grueling eight-hour shift of wiki-hopping has churned up the information that rats react to valerian like cats react to catnip. (And, actually, how cats react to valerian. Our dogs loved it, too. This makes perfect sense when you realize that valerian smells like stewed gym socks that have been left to dry again in a giant pile in the back of a dank cabinet.) Assuming we can verify that valerian is non-toxic to rodents, my new entertainment goal for the week is to get the rats stoned and see what happens. Although, I seem to recall valerian is used as a sedative in humans, and I'm not entirely sure how we could tell if the little furballs were actually sleeping more.


  1. You're quite correct - Valerian is used as mild sleeping pills; it's not going to knock you out, but it's very good for helping you stay asleep if you tend to wake up in the middle of the night, and has essentially no side effects. Except for reeking to high heaven. As useful as it was, I tossed mine out after getting sick of my entire medicine cabinet smelling like gym socks and old stinky cheese - and it was in caplets in a bottle.

    Catnip, on the other hand, smells rather like mint (and is occasionally called catmint), and while my cat, disappointingly, has very little reaction - they don't all react to it, especially as kittens - the collie I had growing up used to like to roll around in the catnip plant in my mother's garden. So you might look up if that works on rats too, it's much more pleasant stuff to have around.

  2. Oh, I know what catnip smells like; we had cats all through my childhood, usually two or three at a time, and for several years I gave out catnip mice to the family at Christmas. Every catnip plant my mother has ever tried to cultivate has ended up growing flat to the ground, because that's what happens when a cat rolls in it daily.

    Cat actually has some たまねこ茶, which is Japanese catnip tea. We might test that, if we can't stand the valerian.