Honolulu Lite

Charles Memminger

Sunday, December 21, 2003

In the end, Mr. Biggs’
demise was a snap

In the end it came down to a small chunk of mozzarella cheese with a dab of peanut butter. That seemingly incongruous pupu proved to be Mr. Biggs' culinary Waterloo.

Mr. Biggs, you may recall from the previous two episodes, was an enormous rat the size of, well, an enormous rat, who had been terrorizing our household for the past month or so. The terror was largely retroactive, coming after the discovery of a half-eaten ear of dried decorative corn, nibble marks on the odd potato or other tuber, holes eaten through screens, holes eaten into dry saimin packets, holes eaten into the heavy lid of a 5-gallon bucket containing dog kibble ... holes basically eaten into any container that Mr. Biggs figured held something tasty, and each discovery coming after morning light caused the mythical beast to decamp.

Mythical because, other than a brief sighting of the interloper behind the clothes dryer early in the game, the only evidence we had that he was still visiting the premises were the holes and nibble marks and the dreaded little brown torpedoes he left behind as calling cards.

LIKE BILL CLINTON letting Osama bin Laden slip through his fingers, I cursed my weakness at not dispatching Mr. Biggs with an air-gun pellet when I had him in eyeball contact. But he hadn't yet driven me to homicide or raticide or whatever kind of -icide it is when a relatively peaceful man relishes the thought of killing another living creature.

Mr. Biggs apparently got a hearty laugh from the "live" trap we put out for him. He similarly snorted at the common snap traps, the insidious "glue" traps and the diabolical battery-powered metal tunnel-of-death trap we deployed. After first writing about the situation, readers sent in many suggestions about how to catch a rat and what bait to use. The list included everything from Ivory soap to smelly dried shrimp. Mr. Biggs eschewed them all. He even eschewed stuff he previous chewed, like dog food nuggets. He spent two nights trying to break into Boomer's kibble cache, but when I tried to use the kibble as bait in a trap, he turned his tiny, wet, twitchy nose up at it.

After consulting with a rat expert, I learned how these rascally rodents think -- the rats, not the rat expert. I became a forensic investigator, daily tracking the rat's movements through evidence he left behind, especially those disgusting tiny brown torpedoes. I placed the traps in locations suggested by my rat counselor with sometimes ghastly unintended consequences. Two pigeons narrowly escaped from a snap trap and glue trap on the deck, but a third bird, some kind of red bird, judging from the profusion of scarlet feathers involved, ended up looking like some kind of bizarre glue and feather artwork concocted by a psychotic Walt Disney.

The heavy rains of a few weeks ago drove Mr. Biggs into hiding outside for a while, but he re-entered the house a few days ago, apparently hungry and, I'd guess, wet.

Without much hope I put out a new snap trap loaded with the mozzarella and peanut butter, and at 4 a.m. there was an ominous pop from the kitchen. I'm ashamed to say my heart fairly leapt at the sound. But the war is over, and I hope that with time -- rat-free time -- I may regain a small element of the humanity that Mr. Biggs took from me.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Charles Memminger, winner of National Society of Newspaper Columnists awards, appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. E-mail


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