The rats are winning.
A few weeks ago we could say that
April was the cruellest month, forcing
a Home Depot run for more propane, dragging
out the hot-cold-hot-cold weather patterns, bringing
rats and the baby rats and dead rats out in the open.
I noticed a hole in the fencing I've installed to keep rats from getting under the deck. It was a small hole a few weeks ago. Now it's about the size of a cartoon mouse hole. Not cool. And definitely not cool when I go down the stairs to the grill in the backyard I am hearing the scuttling noises of four-legged intruders along the wall behind the rows of daffodil and iris stalks.
I trap a few. There are always more, and traps are damned expensive (no I don't reuse them -- if a rat's hanging out of it, the whole damn thing goes in the trash). However, in trapping them, I've learned a few things.
Perhaps these are only local rules.
Perhaps these rules are so local they apply only to my backyard.
First, peanut butter has never worked for me. Inevitably, when I bait with peanut butter, I will come out the following day to find nothing but ants licking the last scraps of peanut butter from an unsprung trap.
Second, the nasty skin from grilled salmon, something so smelly and slimy that you'd think it's have to succeed, has only mixed results. I've used it about five times and caught one rat. The trap is most always sprung, but usually empty.
Third, I've had the greatest success using the following two baits: old leftover pizza and old leftover hot dogs (not tofu pups or smartdogs...meat hot dogs). These are so successful that I'll keep a slice of pizza in the refrigerator for weeks for use as bait.
Finally, I've learned that it's best to trap the night before trash pickup, because otherwise the dead rat is hanging out in your trashcan for a few days, and that can lead to some unpleasant odors.
I hope my observations have helped.