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silly rats, silly buddhists

The rat is so bold now. We are seeing it in the evenings traipsing through the hallways and finding little droppings on the couch. We don't like it. We want it to go away. But we're not going to kill it. What on earth could we be thinking?

It Sounds Like a Squirrel

At some point in the winter...many, many weeks ago, we started hearing some scurrying in the walls. It happened at night, little things running around behind the bathtub shell.

At first we had no idea what it could be. Was it a rat? A squirrel? A possum? How was it getting into the house? It's one of those things where you are just living your day to day life and you just don't think about it until you hear the scurrying. A friend told us that if it were a squirrel, it would explain why it hadn't tried to come in the house. It was just using the walls for shelter. A rat, we assumed, would have come in the house by then.

Thou Shalt Not Kill

We told the landlord. She dropped off three old-school wooden snap-traps for us to use. I angrily threw them in the garbage.

I know it's silly, but as a part of the way I think the universe works, I really try to refrain from being the direct cause of another being's death. The Buddha recommended this not in a "Thou Shalt Not Kill" sort of commandments way, but taught that it was a way to be gain freedom from worry and fear.

I guess it's silly to spare a rat's life. Rats are vile vermin. They shit indescriminately, they chew through walls, they bite babies and lick toothbrushes. Even the most compassionate of our friends, when asked for advice, exclaimed, "The only good rat is a dead rat!"

But yet I can't help thinking of this little being, seeking shelter and food in a relatively innocent way. It grabs for a particularly succulent morsel of food and then the metal bar swings up, impossibly fast and crushes its arm and body. It's a little less palatable if you think of it happening to your puppy, or your mom or something. Anyway, silly or not, I've kind of made an internal decision that I'm not going to try and kill it.

At the same time, it's definately in the house now. I've seen it scurrying away a few times and we've found droppings. It clearly has some pretty free access to this cush little rat situation.

Possible Solutions

Well, there's the possibility of just restricting access. There's a couple of places we know of where it could get into the house and we could physically block them. But we suspect that by now there's a great deal of points of entry.

We could try and live trap it and relocate it. This is not something commonly done with rats, for obvious reasons. Even when we called the wildlife commission in Washington State, which doesn't recommend killing any wildlife, they said they didn't have much advice to offer us, and seemed surprised that we were reluctant to just kill it.

Plus, live trapping a rat is not such an easy job. Rats are smart and don't want to get caught. They won't walk into a trap unless there's really no other food available. When you have kids, that's a very hard thing to do. Plus, it can get outside and raid the compost. Cutting off the rat's food supply completely would be a pretty hard job involving a lot more stringent housecleaning, and the purchase of a lot of tupperware and jars.

Maybe the best thing is to kill it. But I just can't help feeling like the karma of killing it is to end up in a situation of being trapped in a deadly trap myself. I believe pretty strongly in causality. But it's endangering the health of the kids at this point I think. I wish there was some easier solution.


Wow, that's very convenient of the heavenly maidens to have bodies that do not become pregnant-do the heavenly lads gallantly produce nonviable sperm for the goddesses too?

Believe it or not, I think I'll stick with the human realm. At least here I feel like I'm doing SOMETHING!

I would like to stay outta the rat realm yo. It can't be much fun to be hated, reviled and routinely murdered.

We better find some way to get it out of our house though, before it starts spreading the word about the joy of living with buddhists...

Anybody got a cat?

I was just thinking ...ya know a good mouser would be the best thing for you. It solves the rat problem, and it's a natural cycle type thing. Cats eat rats, and so no bad karma..=)

Is the karma still there if you hire someone else to do it? Cause you're only indirectly causing the pain and suffering (which you do every time you eat meat)...I guess I have a hard time understanding that it's ok in your world to eat chicken or lamb but not to set a trap for a rat....but hey - we all have our hypocrisies.

I know how you feel, Daniel. The retreat center here is overrun by mice and ants. The mice we can live trap, but they just run right back in as soon as we catch them, so we just learn to live with them. The ants might have to be sprayed, like we did at last years retreat, which I feel terrible about. It's said that animals have to work out their own karma... maybe you could check the scriptures for an answer.

Take it easy, yo.

I have to say that I've been giggling about your quandary all day. I picture Mr. Rat, all plump from the nice life he's living in your house, going out for the night, and hanging out with his ratty friends, and telling them, over garbage tapas and stinky sangria, that they should all hook up with some sweet Buddhists for the good life. Sounds like you had a fabulous birthday... happy birthday, belated!

We had the same dilemma. They're cute at first. (We even had a pet
rat years ago, Coco, and she was
sweet). But you'll find you don't
have just one rat, they will multiply.
You must block off all their entranceways
into the house. Difficult but not
impoissible. And you don't want
to poison them because they will
wind up dying in your wallls and
making a stink that lasts forever.
We would up having them trapped.
Our exterminator told us it was
illegal to release vermin into the wild, which may be bull pucky but
does have a certain logic.

i agree with the mouser idea... and if you don't like cats (don't have any idea why you wouldn't, but...) lasa opso dogs are extreme rat hunters. my boyfriend's family has one as well as a pet rat, and as soon as we take the rat out of the cage she goes crazy. v. efficient.

Well Dan, I won't go into detail of why you should just off the vermin, but even if you did there are entry points now and soon enough you'd have another. I have two devices called pesticators, they plug into a wall outlet and make a vibration in the wires that drive mice and rats nuts. I had a bad mouse problem like 4 months ago, trapping and poison didn't work and since I pluged those suckers in I havent seen or heard mouse sign since.