RATS IN THE RECTORY! Of priests and rodents: Part 2

Remember these guys?  Here are some priests in Georgia suffering from a home invasion.

By rats.

Check the blog Southern Orders.

The latest in the saga:

This is rat central and I have an update for you on the rectory wanderings of Ben and Socrates. The last straw two weeks ago has led us to put poison out. Have they eaten it? Maybe, but they are immune evidently! It must be like crack to them!

The latest terror is that our parochial vicar, Fr. Justin ate some Zaxby’s chicken on Monday night, my day off when I go to Augusta for rat respite! He placed his bones (the chicken’s) in the carry out Styrofoam container, closed it, place that in its plastic bag and tied it shut and placed that in a open kitchen plastic garbage can in the TV room which is in our living quarters on the top floor of the rectory. The office is on the main floor, our kitchen and dining room are the ground floor.

Yesterday, Fr. Justin noticed that the bag of discarded chicken bones had been opened, a hole had been eaten through the Styrofoam container of bones and that every bone including a used pack of blue cheese was missing. The light weight garbage container was still upright!

Fr. Justin moved the couch and behind it was strewn the chewed on chicken bones and the blue cheese packet licked clean. All that was left were rat droppings marking the stash of bones. It was quite shocking to see!

Last night we placed all kinds of traps and poisons on the third floor, only to discover this morning that of the four traps we set, all had the food removed from them and the traps not sprung!

This is diabolical. I suffer now from current and post traumatic stress syndrome. I don’t sleep well at night and dread going to the kitchen in the morning to fix breakfast. I go to my mother’s house in Augusta and hear a sound there and think she has rats too! I go on retreat and the same thing occurs.

This is war and I think I’m losing it!

I think they need to do that Prex deprecatoria again.

I have real sympathy for these fellows.  I had a particularly difficult mouse once.  It could take the peanut butter right off the traps.  But it couldn’t dig the peanut out of the metal loop… heh heh.  They just can’t resist peanut butter.

Say a prayer against the rat.

In the meantime, I bet some of you have experience.

And does anyone have a sturdy Rat Terrier they could lend these men?

In the meantime ….
Buy some coffee!

After a long day of battling rat infestation, relax with a piping hot WDTPRS mug brimming with Mystic Monk Coffee.

Once you taste its rich savory goodness, it won’t be brimming for long!

And I have it on special authority that rats – like liberals – are annoyed by both WDTPRS and Mystic Monk Coffee!

Not just Monk… Mystic Monk.

It’s swell!

How about sending those priests some coffee?

I am sending them two large Say The Black – Do The Red mugs.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Classic Posts, Linking Back, Mail from priests. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Emilio III says:

    No terriers available, but highly recommend the Rat Zapper: http://www.ratzapper.com

  2. Agnes says:

    Make it cat territory. If you’re allergic or don’t want a furry pet shedding all over your clerics, spreading used (eeeeew) cat litter around the foundation of the building will send them packing….that is…unless they are bigger than the cat….will pray for you.

  3. wanda says:

    I second the cat motion! Our kitty of 15 years passed away earlier this Summer and now the moles are having a field day in our backyard. I am grateful that we don’t have mice or rats, yet!

    That cat litter hint sounds promising. I’ve ‘heard’ that rats won’t cross over broken glass?

  4. Angelika says:

    I have read somewhere that confirming them might do the trick. They would only reappear on Christmas and Easter.

  5. catoholic says:

    I think we should avoid traps and poisonous chemicals, which cause unnecessary pain to the rodents and may damage the environment in the case of poison. You may also end up with a dead rat inside your wall. UGH. As Fr. Z says, God gave us the perfect way to deal with vermin: cats and dogs! Some people who own ratters even rent them out.

  6. They probably eat broken glass.

  7. P.S. I’m sorry you lost your cat. My oldest one died, aged only 9, of congestive heart failure on January 1, 2009. He was very good at catching bugs, flies and mice. Except the night he deposited a live mouse on my pillow as a present.

  8. shadowlands says:

    I don’t know if they sell it the US, but Jeyes fluid disinfectant used near your rubbish bins is really good for deterring rats and mice and keeps the place clean too. They hate the smell. I love the smell but that’s another addiction altogether maybe? Yikes.

    I got infested with mice last year,just after I started to pray the Rosary daily. I thought it was old nick upsetting me, as it did ruin my life for a while, and sleep. I read online that souls in purgatory sometimes visit as mice if they need prayers!! I had started to offer parts of my rosary for souls so this convinced me to continue in earnest. I haven’t had one since!! Thank God.

  9. shadowlands says:

    Managed to find a Saint to invoke (if father can confirm she is kosher of-course…)

    Sometime Gertrude of Nivelles’ (St. Gertrude) symbol, the mouse, is said related to the souls in purgatory or symbolic as her protection of the recently dead people–citing the Teutonic tradition of mice being the emblem of souls. Yet others insist that mice and rats are symbolic of St Gertrude’s ablility to avert epidemics and protect crops. As a protective saint, she is invoked against rodents, vermin, rats, mice, pestilence, fever, fear of mice or rats (suriphobia), against mental illness and disorders (especilally suriphobia), and insanity. She is particularly invoked against field-mice.

  10. Jaybirdnbham says:

    I also recommend a cat. Skip the tiny (useless) kitten stage and adopt one at least half grown from a shelter if you want the rats to take it seriously.
    Another helpful tip is to stuff steel wool into whatever openings the rats are using to gain access to the interior of the house. Rats hate chewing that stuff.
    Third, there are sonic gadgets you can plug in, that supposedly deter rats and mice. But if you have other pets this might also distress them.
    Fourth idea, get a dachshund. They rival terriers as killers of small critters.

  11. revs96 says:

    Perhaps the devil sent the mice to discourage you or distract you from the rosary. Once you became motivated to pray more the devil gave up that particular attack.

  12. kab63 says:

    Oh, dear. I know the feeling and it is horrible. A cat is no match against a large rat; I speak from experience. As Sheriff Brody said, “We’re going to need a bigger boat.” A schipperke is a very *energetic* dog, if you know what I mean . . .

    Our rat took care of himself by deciding to crawl up the inside of the back of the stove. He happened to simultaneously touch two electrical leads and ZAP. My husband, who is brave enough for any nasty job, considers removing that rat one of the worst experiences of his career.

  13. Peggy R says:

    We had a mouse problem last winter. 4 of them. [Little boys left crumbs and food wrappers downstairs often.] They were hard to catch. I am very allergic to cats, so that is a no for us. We don’t want a pet bigger than a fish anyway. We tried those humane boxe. We caught 2 and took them out to the corn fields a mile away. The others got the food and left. We went with the glue traps and threw the mice after they died in the trash bin outside. [We put the caught mice in deep buckets until dead.] If these are rats, the priests really need the largest size or put several together. Godspeed to them on this mission.

  14. ejcmartin says:

    A little over a year ago we were praying the family Rosary in my boy’s bedroom. While we were praying we could here a significant scratching noise. Upon the completion of our prayers I followed the noise to the boy’s closet. Gingerly moving some containers I anxiously made my way to the back corner of the closet. Low and behold there was a hold chewed in the wall from the outside through which I could see light (thankfully for I did not wish to come face to face with said rat). The next day I filled the hole and traps and poison were set where they could not be accessed by young boys. Within a week we found Mr. rat at the side of our neighbour’s house.

  15. Patikins says:

    I had an outdoor rat infestation not long after I bought my house. I’m not so sure I would use poison indoors but if the fathers want to try it I’ll share my experience. I tried the sticky traps — worthless. I don’t have the strength to set snap type traps so I used rat poison in an improvised a bait box. I tried three different brands (each with different active ingredients) before I found one that worked.
    I had previously had success with snap traps for mice. If the fathers haven’t tried this type of trap and they have the dexterity to set the big traps without losing a finger that might be worth a try. As Fr. Z said, stick peanut butter in the little hole of the metal loop. It worked for me every time.

    The suggestion to temporarily move, dispose of all food and hire an exterminator sounds like a good idea too.

    I will definitely pray for the rats to disappear.

    PS: I received an error (“Handler could not be removed”) when trying to log in via the Blackberry browser. I was able to log in and comment using Opera Mini. Just FYI.

  16. Our JR Terrier, “Kieran”, could be persuaded, I believe, to hunt rats, mice, etc.
    He surely goes at the flies around here!

  17. Faith says:

    My cat would get them. She’s an indoor cat and yet manages to bring us presents of mice and once a chipmunk and a snake. I repeat; she’s an indoor cat. She doesn’t like to travel; she’ meow all the way; but for a good cause, she’ll come.

  18. Mariana says:

    First remove all poison, then get a cat! A grown cat.

  19. wanda says:

    Thank you for your kind words, Anita. I waited a respectable amount of time and asked my hubby if we could get another kitty and he said yes. (He had long said no more kitties.) So now we are the pround adoptees (from the shelter) of two lively little sisters. Whew, I had forgotten what balls of energy they can be. So, hopefully there won’t be any mice or rat problems inside, anyway. We have vowed to ourselves that these will be indoor cats, period. We also love the birds, frogs, chipmunks, etc.

  20. As I recall, St. Gertrude’s other symbol is the cat! She’s also the one who had the honor of dying on St. Patrick’s Day Eve, because she took such care of the Irish monks visiting her country and got St. Foillan’s body found after he was murdered by bandits.

  21. wanda says:

    Get a cat, for sure. While browsing for kittens at the animal shelter, I had the thrill of seeing up close and personal 3 HUGE Maine Coon Cats, bigger than many dogs. They were magnificent creatures. Big? Wow.
    They had such sweet temperments though, very laid-back. I betcha they would love a good home and would take care of any mouse, rat, big bugs, door-to-door salesmen and whatever else you could name.

  22. My mom and step-dad take care of a mission parish in the White Mts in Arizona. She noticed that mice were getting in under the sink in hte rectory. She doused pure peppermint oil on cotton balls and placed them under the sink and that took care of that. Mice and rats do not like the smell of peppermint oil. You can also fill a defuser with the oil and place it wherever needed.

  23. kat says:


    I vouch for this at least for mice. We had mice and I would not stand for it. My husband did not want the ones that emit high-pitched noise, as they bothered him too. So we got “Pest Offense.” For $30, I never saw another mouse in my house. This product works by emitting signals through the electrical wires throughout the house (if it’s a big house they tell you how many to get; normally not more than 1 per level of home.) It really does work; and it lasts a long time.

  24. AVOID POISON. Why? 1) If they die from the poison inside the building, you have to find them before the death stench begins, and, being rats, they may be in areas which are inaccessible. 2) If they die outside the building, poison (coumadin), will likely get into the food chain (e.g. cats, dogs, carrion birds, etc.). Also, death by coumadin is nasty. Best choice: rat traps. Why? Death is instantaneous, and you can easily retrieve their corpses. Is there a better bait than peanut butter? Yes! Morningstar Farms Bacon Strips. It fits in the trap snugly, and the rat must must tug hard to get the bait out; unlike peanut butter, they can’t lick it off without tripping the mechanism. (Hint: microwave the bacon strip for about 45 seconds max. You want it to be a little supple.)

  25. P.S. They love peanut butter — but they’re insane about bacon strips. No kidding.

  26. Ed the Roman says:

    Rats eat broken glass? Once, maybe.

  27. Dennis Martin says:

    Yes, Father Z., you are exactly right about wedging the bit of peanut (gotta use extra chunky peanut butter) into the curl of the metal clip. The old-fashioned metal clip mousetraps are best–those with the cheesy plastic pad for the bait are useless.

    If one wishes to splurge, one could surround the baited trap with the sticky traps on all sides (put the trap between the wall and a refrigerator leg so you only need to cover two sides with sticky traps). That way, the cleverest mice who know how to lick the peanut butter off without releasing the deadly spring never get that far but instead get mired in the goo first. But the glue traps are expensive.

    None of this helps with rats. Some vermin can only be cast out by prayer and fasting, perhaps. :-)

  28. The bacon strips work–our pest control guy told us to do exactly that. We caught two mice within minutes of setting the traps with bacon.

  29. My heart goes out to the priests suffering this invasion. This spring I also had an invasion of mice, and solved it quickly and cheaply by going to an organics store, buying a little bottle of peppermint oil, putting it in a spray bottle diluted with water, and spraying around my home, especially the interior perimeter, the kitchen and around my bed. I did this daily for about a week. No more mice. Never. Nada. However as the summer lingered I also got gnats coming in from the outside. Lots of gnats. Biting gnats. Vile things. So the season has been full of open warfare with chemicals in my home anyhow. [Cue citronella candles and music of ‘Father Padilla Meets the Perfect Gnat’.]

  30. Rob Cartusciello says:

    Two words: Mouse Gun. They are available here: http://www.dixiegunworks.com/product_info.php?products_id=11582

    Now, if (for some crazy reason), you don’t want to deal with the remains of a gunshot mouse, long haired dachshunds have a huge amount of energy and are big enough to take on a rat.

  31. amylpav22 says:

    I second peanut butter. Also, pepperoni — especially greasy pepperoni — worked.

    Prayers for them. Although I’d rather have mice than insects.

  32. joan ellen says:

    Supposedly mice do not like tin foil, so a friend stuffs mouse holes with it.

  33. joan ellen says:

    Supposedly mice do not like tin foil, so a friend stuffs mouse holes with it. Guess I would sprinkle it with the peppermint oil, use some broken glass, and say a prayer.

  34. joan ellen says:

    Sorry, Fr. for the double comment. Basic cell phone said there was an error for the 1st one.

  35. Subimonk says:

    Several years ago a she-rat took up residence in my gas range. Within she had at least one litter of about 8 (or more). One day our maintenance man pulled the range back from the wall and saw about 5 pounds of my dog Butch’s food behind it. We opened it up and saw the tunnels that the rats had made in the insulation. Three of us took the range out on the back porch and opened it up and began slaughtering rats. The mama escaped however. I asked my dog why he had let this go on, but he kept mum. I have a rat terrier now too, and I’m sure that Brice will take down any rat that tries to get inside. He and Butch have learned to work together, and last year they killed 4 possums in the back yard!

  36. kelleyb says:

    Cleanliness is very important when dealing with rodents. We are invaded every fall. Doesn’t take long to solve the problem.
    EMPTY the garbage. Do not leave any around. Wash all dishes.
    Stuff obvious entry holes with steel wool.
    Now that poison has been introduced, animals should not be used. If the rat has ingested poison and the cat or dog eats the rat..the canine or feline could become very ill and die.
    Bating rat and mouse traps is an art. Take a toothpick and load the curly part of the trap with care. make the critters work for their supper.
    when all else fails, hire pros.

  37. Agnes says:


  38. Rich says:

    “But it couldn’t dig the peanut out of the metal loop… heh heh.”


  39. RichardT says:

    Rats are difficult.
    We get mice every year (it’s just about time for this year’s invasion; the nights are getting cold) but a few traps sort mice out (there’s a lovely musical sound as the sun sets and the mice come out to look for food…). But rats are a different matter. Rats are not only very hard to get rid of, but they also seem to have a much higher level of intelligence than mice, and it’s pitched against you. An unpleasant feeling.
    I tried the “high pitched noise” type things, but they didn’t do any good for mice or rats.
    A couple of tips for rats:
    1) cleanliness, no food bits anywhere, empty the bin every day.
    2) wear clean rubber gloves whilst baiting the trap – otherwise they can smell you on the trap and will be very wary of it (mice are too dim to notice).

  40. AnAmericanMother says:

    We had a serious rat infestation after some old houses uphill from us were wrecked out.

    They never came into the living space because we have a Siamese cat (I think they are the best ratters, so long as you’re not dealing with wharf rats which are just too big for a medium-size cat. Ours were just plain old roof rats, about 4-5 inches minus tail) as well as three lively dogs who are professional hunters, officially of ducks and pheasant but practically speaking anything with feathers or fur.

    I think a multi-pronged approach is best. We used humane traps, glue boards, and the largest size of snap trap loaded with peanut butter. We caught the dumb ones with the glue boards, slightly smarter ones with the humane traps, and the holdouts with the snap traps. I also paid our teenage son a $5 bounty per rat corpse. He spent a lot of time in the crawlspace with his pellet gun and a red dot laser sight borrowed from mom ‘n’ dad. Wound up paying him about $50 but it was worth it. I think he got the ones who weren’t interested in the traps.

    Eventually called in the professional exterminator to get the last 2-3 rats. He had some super-duper rat attractant which he applied to the same large size snap traps we had been using. That seems to have taken care of the last of them.

    Our exterminator (it’s a company that’s well thought of and has been around Atlanta a long time) said never, ever use poison. You’re likely to wind up poisoning a neighbor’s dog or cat or your own, and they tend to crawl into inaccessible places to die. We never used poison but it looks like we got rid of them all.

    I did not use a “Rat Zapper” but have heard good things about them. One of them has a remote transmitter that signals when there’s a customer in the trap, so you don’t have to keep climbing up into the attic or down into the crawlspace to check.

  41. AnAmericanMother says:


    Jeyes Fluid figures prominently in one of Angela Thirkells’ books (no kidding!)

    I pulled up the MSDS for this stuff here:


    That’s pretty mean looking. I’ve Emailed it to my husband the chemist for a professional opinion. We CAN buy it here in the U.S. via mail order.

  42. AnAmericanMother says:

    Got the word from the chemist:

    “It is a ‘black tar’ disinfectant. Very old fashioned, has cresol and phenol, stinks. We used to sell one 30 years ago.”

    Phenol in particular will kill anything that moves.

  43. irishgirl says:

    I had one dead mouse in my garage earlier this year-haven’t seen or heard anymore, thank God.

    I might suggest another form of ‘rat/mouse bait’: raisins.

    I had a Franciscan priest-friend whose last parish was in the north country of New York State. He told me-in his imitable ‘Joisey accent’-that he put raisins in the mousetraps he had in the rectory. He ended his account with, ‘Well, at least they died happy!’ He passed away 20 years ago next month, and I still miss him!

    That said-I hope that the good southern Fathers will find a solution to their ‘rat problem’!

  44. dcs says:

    I second the recommendation about Maine Coons. We have a cat that is part Maine Coon and he is an excellent mouser (he will also play fetch with the right toy if he’s in the mood). The other good thing about Maine Coons is that they tend to shed in clumps so you don’t get cat hair all over your house, just clumps here and there. Also, some people who are allergic to cats don’t seem to have allergic reactions to Maine Coons.

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