Parks Associates Blog

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Rat Zapper: 1/Rats: 0

After a week of dazzling technology demonstrations at CES, consumer technology took a turn to the practical at the Scherf household yesterday. And, without calling The Geek Squad, it worked as advertised.

Last May, I wrote about a critter infestation in our attic. We took a four-prong approach to trying to rid ourselves of the problem.

First, I tried the standard spring rat traps, baited with peanut butter. I think that the peanut butter was stale. No luck there (and thank goodness, to be honest with you).

Next, we hired an exterminator, who provided us with a few poison bait stations. I'm not sure that they did the trick. My hope, of course, was that the rats would take the bait and conveniently expire on someone else's property. However, with no visual evidence to confirm any kills, I didn't know how successful that program was.

Third, a visit to Home Depot and the purchase of a $25 powerline sonic wave thingamajiggy promised to create an invisible force field that no rodent could penetrate. Just plug it into the wall and - presto - no more rodents. For awhile, this actually seemed to to the trick. We didn't hear the pitter-patter of little rat feet above our bedroom for a long time. Who knows, however, whether this device is deteriorating the performance of my powerline networking products, which I've mentioned using for my VUDU box and for a media adapter.

However, the good luck with the ultrasonic thingamajiggy changed this winter. With the arrival of cold weather, we could tell that our rodents were back. I heard it/them scurrying above us yesterday morning. The theory being bantered about here at the office is that - like a good bacterial infection that builds immunity to an antibiotic - the rats have already evolved natural defenses against the electromagnetic pulses coursing through the Romex. Or, I'm picturing the little dudes wearing tiny Bose noise-cancelling headphones and giggling at my futile attempt to mess with their central nervous systems.

So, it was time to activate the Rat Zapper, something I had put off in the hopes that my deterrence strategy would work. Also, I wasn't convinced that the Zapper could outsmart the rats. When I had activated earlier (using dog food as the recommended bait), nothing happened.
As with most things, the keys to success include 1) the right bait; and 2) a little patience. It turns out that it/they like cashews, and I baited the trap (non-activated) with the nuts the past few days, just to get it/them accustomed to a free meal. "Welcome rats! Don't be afraid of this little box with the food stashed at the end. It's perfectly harmless! C'mon in!"

Sure enough, this morning the Rat Tale indicator light was blinking - its creepy red eyes flashing like a UFO over Stephenville, TX (do a Google News search if you're unclear on the context). My first words to the wife were, "Oh no ... we've got something dead in the attic." I was still not convinced that the rats would go for it. Now, I had to man up and dispose of whatever was up there (I can't wait until my son has gerbils). Donning gloves, gripping a flashlight, and carrying a rat coffin (a grocery store bag), I ascended into the attic, muttering/praying under my breath, "Please don't be a squirrel, please don't be a squirrel...."

I'll spare you the gory details at this point other than to say that it was a rat (well-fed) and it was dead. Maybe there was just one rat up there; perhaps it invited some friends to stay for the winter. At any rate, the Rat Zapper is freshly baited and ready to strike again.

I gotta tell you, this ain't like that Ratatouille movie.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scherf is the 2nd funniest guy I know. He would quickly move up to #1 if he would get me into CES in '08.

9:53 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

I've known Kurt for a long time and his ability to kill living things is well documented.

Just don't dig up his backyard.

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this guy!

8:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scherf isn't really that funny but he tells very interesting stories

9:25 PM  

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