a peek inside the fishbowl

15 Jan, 2016

Rats in Westboro

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

We have had exactly three encounters with rats since we moved here in 1997.

1) During our early days of home ownership, we suspected we had a mouse in the house. Things were getting nibbled here and there. There were scuffling sounds behind the walls and tiny poops under the kitchen sink. Mark and I put out mouse traps, little plastic tunnels which tip forward upon entry, leaving the occupant unharmed. We put every possible mouse treat we could think of in those traps in order to lure it in: cheese, crackers, candied fruit, peanut butter, peanut butter ON crackers. Nothing worked. One evening I was doing something in the office when I spotted it, immediately recognizing why it wasn’t going for the bait. It couldn’t fit into the mouse trap because it was A RAT.

I remember explaining this to Mark. IT’S HUGE, I said. IT HAS A TAIL THIS BIG. It wasn’t until Mark saw it that he truly understood what I was talking about. So we bought a real rat trap and set it in the office closet, where we’d seen it skulk away. Of course, Mark was out one night when I heard the SNAP of the trap. I went to look. I wish I hadn’t. The rat was actually kind of cute. It looked like a pet store rat: grey with a white tummy. Mark disposed of the body when he got home.

2) We came home from a vacation last summer. We were gone less than a week but missed garbage day. Mark went to put something in the garbage can, which was full, and there, lying across the top, was a big fat rat. It was in quiet repose, like Templeton after the county fair. Mark wasn’t sure if it was even alive, but it was, and it scurried to the bottom of the garbage can.

Mark wheeled the garbage can out to the curb and wondered what to do. (I stood way back, worried the thing was going to jump out in a ninja-style self-defense.) Mark tipped the garbage can over on its side and waited. It didn’t take long for a couple of our neighbours to emerge from their homes and come and see why Mark was staring at the garbage. It was quite comical, really, but here’s the question: what does a person do about a rat in the bottom of the garbage can?

The situation remedied itself. This story has a good news/bad news kind of ending. The rat eventually ran out of the garbage can (yay!), but it ran directly over to a neighbour’s house (oops).

3) There was no milk for my coffee this morning so I walked to the village to buy some. On the way back I saw a rat shape trundle across the snowy road ahead of me. It occurred to me that rats and squirrels look a lot alike, although squirrels get better PR because they’re fluffier. Was this a rat? Or a squirrel with a hair follicle issue? I went to investigate, and there it was, huddled next to my neighbour’s house: a big ugly rat. It was not cute, with a white tummy. I turned away for a moment, and then it was gone.

2 Responses to "Rats in Westboro"

1 | Dave Allston

January 15th, 2016 at 1:10 pm


yikes! That’s three encounters too many! My family has been in the same house for 30 years (on Gilchrist Ave) and we only once have found a mouse or rat (my Mom would never have continued living here if it had happened back when my parents lived here/during my childhood). My rat story came about just prior to a big reno we did on the foundation and basement. We ended up digging down 3 feet under the house and foundation in order to finish the basement (mostly through bedrock btw) but before the work started, one of the foundation companies I got quotes from had come in and done test holes through the old original poured concrete floor. Never thought anything of it, but this was clearly how one big massive rat found its way in to our house. My wife (lucky her) was the one to find him, scratching at the door at the top of the basement stairs trying to get in to the kitchen! We set a trap and got rid of him, but it was a few days later that I made the horrible connection about how we’d been noticing that oddly so many of the wrappers of the little halloween candies in our son’s plastic bag (which had been hanging from a hook just behind the basement door) looked like they’d been nibbled on. We thought it had been the cats on Halloween night or something, but we figured out that the rat had somehow been climbing up the wall, and hanging out in the candy bag, trying to eat its way in to the treats! Meanwhile, we’re reaching in, and eating a couple a day. For weeks. Ugh!

2 | Sandy Bowie

January 16th, 2016 at 11:20 am


About 10 years ago, my friend, who lived on Edison, was hearing noises behind their walls. They thought it was a mouse but couldn’t catch it. One day she walked into the kitchen and saw a rat eating from their dog’s food bowl. They caught the rat and then had someone come in and fix all the damage that the rat had caused. They figured that the rat had lived in the house for about 6 months and got into the house through the toilet in the basement. They called the city and the city said that rats can came up through the toilets but it is rare and it shouldn’t happen again. My friend started keeping the toilet lid down and placing a brick on the lid. A few months later they found a dead rat in the toilet. They phoned the city again and the city placed rat poison underground by their house sewage pipe (or something like that) entrance and they never had a rat come up the toilet again. The city said with all the construction in our area, the rats get displaced and confused and start looking for new homes. I keep a brick on our toilet lid in the basement, as we rarely use that toilet. However, when we had a bit construction done to our house, I was told rats can go up toilets on any floor level in a house, not just in the basement. But they also said that this is rare, and that my friend was just very unlucky.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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