I Smell a Rat

I Smell a Rat

New York City is being overrun by rats.  An estimated 2 million rats live in this city of 8.4 million.  Some researchers claim there are more rats than people in NYC, but that’s probably an exaggeration.

Whatever the number, NYC has a rat problem.

Mayor Eric Adams has made rat control a priority of his administration. He plans to appoint a “rat czar.”

And we’re not talking about just any rat.  These are Norway rats, and they’re big.  Norway rats can measure 20 inches from head to tail and weigh up to 2  pounds.

I learned about Norway rats while in Kenya. DeDe and I lived in a small apartment at a Swahili Language School.

The first sign that something was amiss was when our leather shoes and belt were chewed on.  That’s when we met the Rat from Hell.  DeDe opened the kitchen cupboard and there he was, staring at her at eye level.

The next day I spied him and thought he was a nutria. Well, he seemed that big.

I went to the local store and pantomimed what I needed.  The clerk watched as I clapped my hands up and down, yelling Panya Panya!  He laughed and brought out a huge rat trap.   Rap ya Panya

It was a big trap for a big rat.

I carefully baited my trap and waited and waited and waited some more. I tried fresh bait and new locations but had no luck.

In the meantime, the Rat from Hell would show up at the most startling times. We trod carefully in our own home. It felt as if we were in some kind of Stephen King novel.

Our gardener came to our rescue.  He recommended Sumu ya Panya.

That’s poison of the rat.

We carefully spread Sumu ya Panya throughout the house.  The poison went undisturbed, and we continued to be terrorized by our big rat.

On Sunday afternoon, I told DeDe, “I’m not going to bed until I kill that rat.”

When he showed his pointed face in the kitchen, I slammed the door and picked up a broom. Through the closed door, I told DeDe, “One of us ain’t coming out of here.”

DeDe likes to mimic the clattering, whacking, and grunting as the Rat from Hell and I battled.  I finally got him in a corner and it was quickly over. Somewhere I have a photo of me, broom in hand, holding up that dead rat by the tail. He was a trophy.

Postscript: Mayor Adams in NYC has said that he’ll use each and every tool* to eradicate the rats.

A good broom might be a good start.


*I’m not making this up:  As NYC talked of killing rats with traps, glue paper, carbon monoxide, and poison, some bleeding-heart liberals complained about “the painful and inhumane methods” of dispatching rats.  They appealed to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). An Association spokesman replied,  “We protect pets, not pests.


Asante sana,


Curt Iles

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