Ok, here’s the deal. This little guy has been coming around feeding on the seeds that fall from the bird feeders. I’ve seen him come and go on and off over the last year (assuming it’s just the one).

He’s really kind of cute. He comes out from behind the garage and gets some food and then ducks back behind that brick and then darts out and gets some more food. If I go out there he will run away and I won’t see him for days or weeks. But he always comes back. He keeps to himself and doesn’t bother the birds and they sure don’t seem to mind having him around.

I knew Cynthia would not be happy about it so I never mentioned it in hopes that she just wouldn’t see him. But, as luck would have it, she spotted him a several weeks back. Needless to say, she’s not that pleased with the idea that there is a rat brazenly feeding on the back patio. Cynthia is of the mind that rats are horrible, disease ridden trouble makers. That, and they really creep her out.

Cynthia believes the rodent should die. She’s pushing for death by Rat Zapper or death by poison or even death by rat trap. I am less inclined to see him killed by our hand. I’ve even gone so far as to suggest that this may not be a rat, but a very large mouse. Cynthia happens to like mice and was even nicknamed Mouse by her father. Cynthia’s not buying it, though. She’s convinced this is a rat.

In an effort to make our interloper a little less horrifying, Cynthia has named him “Duffy” or, more formally “Duffy The Rat” which allows her to maintain her composure when discussing what is to be done. Of course naming him has personalized him and now Cynthia is softening on the issue. But we still go back and forth with me explaining that letting him live is probably no big deal and her explaining that he’s a filthy disease ridden rat that must perish as soon as possible.

Cynthia has agreed to let you decide Duffy’s fate. Comment here with whether you think Duffy should be allowed to live, or if we should actively seek to eliminate him. Duffy’s fate is in your hands. If the majority of you make a compelling argument to spare him. Duffy lives. If the majority are in favor of elimination him, Duffy goes to the great rat nest in the sky.

What say ye?

What Say Ye? Life Or Death?

63 thoughts on “What Say Ye? Life Or Death?

  • July 26, 2010 at 6:40 am

    Once you name it you can’t kill it.

  • July 26, 2010 at 6:46 am

    He is pretty cute. Due to his size I think the general internet consensus is “rat” but I don’t see the harm in letting him live if he isn’t hurting anything. I dunno, maybe there is some dread disease factor that I’m missing…I always tend to err on the side of cute.

  • July 26, 2010 at 6:46 am

    I say let Duffy live.
    He does look like a cute mouser v rat.
    Of course, the only thing that keeps going through my mind right now is…
    “And the rat came back”

  • July 26, 2010 at 6:47 am

    Mice have ears that are larger and more rounded than rats. I think you are right: large mouse!

  • July 26, 2010 at 6:48 am

    He’s a cutie pie! Rats a very intelligent, loving little animals too. Please don’t try to kill him – he’s not bothering anyone. Let him live his quiet little life in peace 🙂

  • July 26, 2010 at 6:52 am

    He is Cute, till he messes something up, chews a cable of something.

  • July 26, 2010 at 6:56 am

    I say let Duffy live! As a previous pet rat owner (in college) – I don’t think this guy looks like a rat. As an FYI, rats are amazingly intelligent social animals and make way better pets than gerbils, hamsters and mice. They learn their name & come when called and generally like being around people instead of always trying to run from them like hamsters and mice do (both of which I have had as pets at some point in my childhood).

  • July 26, 2010 at 7:02 am

    awe, let Duffy live….I’m not a fan of rats either, but this one is kinda cute….besides…you named him already.

  • July 26, 2010 at 7:06 am

    I have a pet rat, so you can guess what I would say. Bird feeders and chickens attract rats. I had city rats (not as pets) when I lived in the city. I had sunflower seed shells, sunflowers and rats galore. I’m not a fan of poison simply because they eat it and die where they fall. And if that’s under your house, well …. No, they DON’T run far far away looking for water because the poison makes them thirsty. That is urban myth created by lazy exterminators who are nowhere to be found when the carcass starts bringing flies.

    You could do some type of humane trap which will allow you to get a good look at him up close before you go several miles away from home and release him. I do this with my son for the mice we can’t help getting in this big stupid porous house. Incidentally, rats are excellent mousers.

  • July 26, 2010 at 7:11 am

    I’m totally on Duffy’s side. I’ve owned rats many times in my life, so I have a big soft spot.

    As long as he’s outside I’m all “live and let live”. Anybody gets inside? I’m for live traps and letting them loose near the bayou.

  • July 26, 2010 at 7:16 am

    I’ve had a few pet rats, and they were pretty cool. However it looks to me like Duffy is just a large mouse. Rat or mouse, I’d say let him live.

  • July 26, 2010 at 7:20 am

    My vote is to relocate Duffy far far away from the house! 🙂

  • July 26, 2010 at 7:20 am

    Zap the rodent!

  • July 26, 2010 at 7:24 am

    Another former rat owner voting for sparing his life. With the rounded ears this does look more like a mouse – hard to tell without seeing the tale though. If he gets the “yea” vote, perhaps a re-name to Duffy Mouse could be part of the deal.

  • July 26, 2010 at 7:25 am

    I am with Cynthia on this. I cannot stand rats. They give me the creeps.

  • July 26, 2010 at 7:26 am

    The tail – looks like a rat. Maybe it is some poor kid’s pet rat that someone let out, so it looks a bit exotic.

    As long as you have birdseed, you will have rats.

    Conventional wisdom says that you shouldn’t see rats during the day. If you do, you have an infestation, as they are generally nocturnal and only come out in the day when the nest is overcrowded.

    Not sure if that is true, but SHUDDER. Ick ick ick. I cannot stand to see a rat in the day. And I never look up at night here in the Heights – they are everywhere.

    Don’t use poison. We’ve had rats crawl into all sorts of unpleasant places to die. Our neighbor’s cat almost died from eating a poisoned rat – all kinds of animals can get sick form the rat poison.

    We’ve paid thousands to repair damage caused by rodents chewing on wires. Most recently, they got our washing machine. Don’t know if you can get rid of them, but you can mitigate by blocking up holes into your house and considering cutting off the bird feed supply.

  • July 26, 2010 at 7:28 am

    Ditto…once you “name” something, it has power and is harder to kill…I don’t understand rats personally…I spill feed in my tack room. If I spill it they are welcome to clean it up. Food for all. What I don’t get is why the well fed rat takes it upon itself to chew on my leather tack! Corn, feed vs. leather! Now it’s on! and out comes the poison.

  • July 26, 2010 at 7:32 am

    Long live Duffy!

  • July 26, 2010 at 7:33 am

    Duffy must live! Too cute to die.

  • July 26, 2010 at 7:42 am

    From experience, kill ’em before s(he), they, get into the house and start to breed.

    Been there, done that. Once they’re inside, you have problems.

    The lil critters took up residence under my jacuzzi tub in the master bath – did you know rats eat wiring? Yes, they do.

  • July 26, 2010 at 7:43 am

    We regularly feed about 20 squirrels and scores of birds every day in our back yard. Occasionally, we also have a rat, who tries to join the squirrels and eat. The interaction can range from being mean to tacit acceptance of the rat. A couple of years ago, while my wife was showing off to her friend all our critters we feed, a hawk swooped down and grabbed the rat, squeezed, and flew off–leaving my wife in horror. I was mad because I missed it by five minutes coming home from work.

  • July 26, 2010 at 7:47 am

    Duffy looks pretty clean to me. And smart. Live Duffy, live!

  • July 26, 2010 at 7:51 am

    When Duffy decides he’d much rather live IN your house rather than in the yard or garage, that will be the time for execution.

  • July 26, 2010 at 7:55 am

    You can also try this handy quiz: http://www.ratbehavior.org/QuizRatOrMouse.htm

    If you don’t wish to see him around the house any longer, relocate the guy. That’s what I did when one got into my apartment years ago. Caught him, tossed him into a cat carrier and drove off to the park.

  • July 26, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Well, sounds to me like Duffy is desperately having to hoard food to pay his allimony
    support to Mrs. Duffy and their 25 kids, since their recent separation, due to the strain of having that many children and the economic status of today…. if you want to
    hear more of this rat tale, you will need to contact Cynthia and her wonderful neverending imagination.

    My Vote:
    Sad case, but ulimately it must be Death!

  • July 26, 2010 at 8:09 am

    If the choice is between death and re-location. I vote for relocation. Otherwise, let him live his quiet little life. For some reason, the universe sent him to your house. The universe did that for a reason……

  • July 26, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Let Nature/Darwin decide – get a cat.

  • July 26, 2010 at 8:27 am

    I vote for the humane trap option. or maybe get some kind of birdseed that attracts hawks and let nature take care of its own.

  • July 26, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Instead of killing it, you should just get a humane trap and re-locate it to a bayou or field somewhere. There is no need to kill it regardless of your decision.

    However, my vote would be for letting it live. If you hate and want to kill/mice rats, I assume you also want to kill squirrels because they are both rodents. As for disease, you are just as likely to find disease in a bird in the city as you are in a mouse or rat. When I owned my house in the Heights, I had mice, rats, squirrels, opossums, raccoons, garden snakes, lizards and all manner of birds and butterflies. I didn’t really see a need to kill any of them. Nature takes care of that.

  • July 26, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Down with Duffy..

  • July 26, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Save Duffy. No harm, no foul. Just because he’s a little critter doesn’t mean he should die. Actually seems like he thinks behind your shed is a pretty safe place.

  • July 26, 2010 at 9:05 am

    KILL IT! I can’t stand looking rats.

  • July 26, 2010 at 9:10 am

    I think you should get rid of it, it will start chewing up items in the garage if it has not already done so. . .

  • July 26, 2010 at 9:15 am

    I’m a big fan of not harming that which does not harm you. Now let me tell you a little about your friend there. Fleas are the biggest issue. Rats don’t carry disease, the fleas they carry do, though. If he or his family, and there is likely a family, get into your house, they are tenacious, and can cause a flea infestation. Not to mention that rats can carve their way through almost any building material, given enough time. If you aren’t careful, you can have a full scale invasion on your hands. I only tell you this because we are in the very midst of that war right now.

  • July 26, 2010 at 10:10 am

    OK- not to overly influence anyone, but I think that the pictures don’t tell the true horror story that is Duffy the Rat ! Jay has chosed some sweet looking pictures and made this RODENT sound like some sort of cute, little Disneyesque creature- which he is NOT ! He is a filthy, verminous RAT ! Come ON people- he’s a garbage-eating, plague-carrying, verminous RAT !!!!!

  • July 26, 2010 at 10:12 am

    All pets (If you can consider this a pet) are required to be neutered — since you can’t catch him—-off with his head..

  • July 26, 2010 at 10:54 am

    I spotted a rat this past week after dark on the ground under one of my bird feeders. I already feed six squirrels, which are related to rats, but have accepted them in my peaceable kingdom. Re the rat, I was going to tell my neighbor on the side where I saw the rat. My thinking was maybe he would take some action since he has a workshop inches from the spotting. Surely he wouldn’t want a rat messing around in there. This is a far as I’ve gone my rat in yard journey.

    Re your rat. I can’t make a decision. What are some other options? Maybe you could trap him at drop him off somewhere else, or give him to someone who has a snake, then you wouldn’t have to make the decision and nature would be back in balance.

  • July 26, 2010 at 11:48 am


  • July 26, 2010 at 11:57 am

    I’ll let my pet cat make the decision for me.. Goodbye Duffy..

  • July 26, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Kill the rat before he starts eating your wires and infiltrates your house.

  • July 26, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    um, I’m the person who recently tried to rescue a wounded opossum, and cried when Opey didn’t make it. Of course, I vote LIFE.

  • July 26, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    It would be totally unfair to let the little fella eat peacefully out there for so long, then suddenly kill him with no warning. I mean, he doesn’t even know he’s doing anything wrong.

    If Cynthia really must see him go, what’s wrong with a live trap and relocating him?

  • July 26, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    And Cynthia — a little Google searching will show you that rats are among the cleanest wild animals. Nearly any other animal carries far more diseases. You have more germs in your bathroom than Duffy has, and no one’s called for *your* execution.

    Seriously, what’s wrong with relocation?

  • July 26, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Susan: To be fair, diseases such as bubonic plague and rabies have not been traced back to Cynthia’s bathroom. It should also be pointed out that Cynthia has not been found to chew through important wiring. If she did, I would have to have a very serious conversation about our future.

  • July 26, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I side with the relocation folks. I watch too much Billy the Exterminator. Seriously, though, it’s probably not good to let him hang around, but you could get a humane trap and then drive him out to the Big Thicket or something and let him go. ^^

  • July 26, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    If that rat is brazen enough to be seen in the daytime, it means that it is being pressed to be feeding a litter. If you see one, you have several. And if you have several rats, you know what comes next. The cute snakes that feed upon your horde of vermin. I’m with Cynthia. It’s got to go.

  • July 26, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    If he’s been there that long he should be paying rent. As long as he stays outside, it’s all good. You could catch him and dye him, for entertainment and identification. But if he has to go, at least drop him off somewhere he’ll have a fighting chance.

  • July 26, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    No poison! If a cat was to get ahold of him, it would kill the cat as well. If you must kill it, get a glue trap.

  • July 26, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    I say live and let live. He’s in his natural environment, and has a food source that discourages him from coming inside to find food. Now if he ventures inside, put out the traps.

  • July 26, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    There is a third way: Havaheart Trap. It’s a non-lethal, non-injurious trap. I do this with mice and then release them in the arboretum, which is a far better place for everyone considered.

  • July 26, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Let him LIVE!!!

  • July 26, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    A clean, healthy and relatively harmless field mouse. NOT a disease-ridden wharf-rat. No plague here.
    Cute, familial, mostly herbivore. Love birdseed. Just don’t want them to move indoors (unless you want a pet). Safe traps must have small mesh or holes, as they can squeeze through tight openings. Fields woods marshes are habitats. Let him/her live.

  • July 26, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    Introduction: The mouse is one of the smallest mammals. Its scientific name is the Microtus Pennsylvanicus. It is a very interesting mammal. There are many different kinds of mice. This report is about field mice. I hope you enjoy it and learn a lot.

    Habitat: Field mice live in fields, meadows, gardens and swamps. In fact, they have such a big family that you can find them anywhere except Antarctica. They do not live in Antarctica because it is too cold for them.

    Physical Description: Some of the most noticed features of mice are their small pointed noses, their whiskers, their small black eyes, their round ears and their long scaly tails. Mice weigh about one ounce (twenty-eight grams). Their heads and bodies are three to four inches long not including their tails. A mouse’s tail is almost as long as its body. They have five toes on each of their four feet and each toe has a sharp claw. Their claws help them grip onto things when they climb. Mice have two kinds of teeth. They have incisors which are their front teeth and cheeks which are their back teeth. Incisors are the teeth with sharp edges used to gnaw on things. Cheeks are flat teeth which are used for eating.

    Niche and Service to Humanity: Mice are herbivores. They keep the weed and plant population down. This is great service to humans and other animals. Mice help people a lot. Some scientists study mice. Other people keep mice as pets but not house mice or field mice. Pet mice are very easy to care for and they do not need much attention. They are very playful and active. They will run and jump all over their cages. If you have more than one mouse they will probably groom each other. Some mice will eat out of their owner’s hands if they are trained properly. They can also be trained to sit on their owner’s shoulder.

    Books and Movies: One of the most famous cartoon characters — Mickey Mouse — is based on a mouse (of course!). Just think about Disney: “it all started with a mouse!”. Another famous mouse is found in the book Stuart Little by E. B. White.

    Feeding Habits: Mice eat a lot of things such as food crumbs, corn, grain, fruit, nuts, seeds and insects. Actually mice will eat almost anything that won’t eat them first! Some mice eat their own weight in food everyday. They need to be active night and day so they can get enough food. Instead of sleeping at night they take short naps throughout the day. Mice eat more food in the fall. They store their food in burrows and other hiding places.

    Predators: Mice are prey so they have a lot of enemies. Some animals that eat mice include weasels, birds, foxes, snakes and owls; basically anything that is bigger than them will eat them. Mice do not have easy lives. They always have to be aware of what’s going on or else they might end up in another animal’s stomach!

    Reproduction: Mice mate up to seventeen times each year. A female mouse can become pregnant in forty-eight hours. A mother mouse has four to nine baby mice in each litter. Young mice are called kittens. When they are born they have no hair and most of them are pink but some come in darker colors. It takes thirty-five days for a mouse to mature.

    Homes: Mice choose safe places for their nests. After they pick a nesting place they begin to make paths. The paths connect their nests with food sources. They make nests from soft material. They use whatever they find but most commonly leaves, paper and grass. Mice stay in one place for their entire life. They only move if food runs out or if their home gets too hot or cold.

    Defense: Mice are very little so if they see an enemy coming they might have a chance of hiding in a tree, burrow or some other kind of hiding place. They can’t run in a straight pattern if they are trying to get away from the animal that is chasing them but they can run in a zigzag pattern.


    Holmes, Kevin J.. Mice, Bridgestone Books, Minnesota: 1998


    Anonymous, Mice, Microsoft Encarta ’95


    http://www.weneedyou.com/clark_bugs/mouse. html

  • July 27, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    I vote life. If you’re going to preemptively kill everything that might cause you problems down the road, you’ll quickly find yourself killing pretty much everything if you’re an honest person about it.

  • July 29, 2010 at 11:43 am

    It’s an adorable little mouse! That’s not a rat. Let it be!

    I have a bird feeder as well, but we are on the second floor. But we also get two small squirrels.

    Down in the backyard we have a couple of chipmunks that eat the seeds that fall.

  • August 1, 2010 at 5:09 am

    So what is Duffy’s fate?

  • August 1, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    We’ll be updating soon with our verdict.

  • August 2, 2010 at 11:05 am

    I vote to let the critter live, however as others have posted, if Duffy’s days are numbered, please do not use poison. It’s exceptionally cruel, and also as previously posted may take out other innocent life as well.

  • August 3, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    You are correct in stating that is a rat. Rats must die. It is the age-old pact between our species: they will steal from us, and we will kill them. So far it has worked for both. Don’t disturb the rat-human balance.

  • Pingback:The People Have Spoken – Duffy Is Spared « The Bald Heretic

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