We have a break in the case.

The body of a rat was found in the vicinity of my house and I’m hoping against hope that it’s MY rat.

Here’s the backstory: A couple weeks ago I wrote a column that I had been battling with a rat in my house. I had heard it scurrying inside the walls for a couple days which is the most creepy and hopeless feeling you could have, and then one night I turned on the kitchen light and I saw it scurry under the stove.

So I bought those snap traps and my buddy Blake gave me a live trap. I loaded ’em all up with peanut butter and left them out several days and nights thinkin’ for sure the little sucker wouldn’t be able to resist delicious peanut butter.

I waited patiently to hear that loud SNAP! in the middle of the night but it never came.

Several days passed and I hoped beyond hope that the rat had simply found somewhere else to live 'cause I hadn’t seen hide nor hair of him. I also was hoping he was a bachelor rat and didn’t have any babies or babies-mamas still left in my house.

Since I hadn’t heard or seen him I assumed he simply wasn’t there.

Well, county extension agent Keith Mickler burst that bubble. He called me after reading the column and suggested that the rat was PROBABLY still there. And what’s worse, he thought my rat was too smart to be fooled by peanut butter and a live trap just sittin’ in the corner. He said first of all, they’re crafty and I needed to hide the trap better. That the rat probably wouldn’t just walk into an open trap like that. He also said that I needed to change up my strategy and instead of using peanut butter (which I assumed was the perfect rat bait), I should probably use something stinkier. So I tried everything. I tried tuna, dog food and even McDonalds chicken nuggets.

Nothing.

If the rat was still in my house, none of that stuff enticed him. What kind of picky rat do I have that’s too good for McDonald’s?

Well, I guess I had given up and was about to take drastic measures. The first of which was to borrow a cat from a friend hoping that maybe if the cat stayed at my house for a while, the rat would eventually come out and the cat would kill it. My other option was to put out rat poison. I had held off on doing this because I was afraid that the rat would eat the poison and die in the walls and I’d have a rat carcass somewhere inside my walls.

The third drastic option which at the time seemed perfectly reasonable was that I was gonna get someone to release a snake in the house and it would slither around until it found the rat’s nest and devour everything in it. I would rather be in a house with a snake than with a rat.

However, there’s been a break in the case. Guess what my next door neighbor Lacey found in her front yard this weekend? A big dead squirrel. BUT ALSO there was the body of a DEAD RAT. Either her cat or a neighbor’s cat had killed a rat and left it in her front yard.

Lacey’s dad jokingly suggested that it was MY rat. At first I laughed but then I got to thinking about it and the circumstantial evidence is really quite convincing. The rat was killed (seemingly) within mere feet from my house and was left to rot in Lacey’s front yard.

Imagine, if you will, that on a warm night this weekend, my rat decides to go on a little excursion and leaves the relative safety of my house by way of some secret hole he’s found for coming and going. But his activity doesn’t go unnoticed. As he scurries away from my house, there’s a watcher in the shadows. Bounce to him (that’s the way my friend Brandy says “unbeknownst to him”) Lacey’s cat is stalking him. As the rat scampers away from the house, Lacey’s cat pounces. There’s not even a struggle. A tiny scream breaks the night’s silence and then all is quiet. The only evidence that a brutal killing has taken place is a little lifeless body of a rat belly up in Lacey’s front yard.

That’s the story I’m going with. Until I see concrete evidence otherwise, I’m going to believe in my heart of hearts that my rat is dead and gone. It’s pride was its downfall and there is no one left to mourn him.

I will, however, maintain a careful watch in my house and will report to y’all if I see any suspicious rat-like activities.

Severo Avila is Features Editor

for the Rome News-Tribune.