Rat Fink

Roof Rat Man leads Arcadia's rat race

Paceley: Well, people in Paradise Valley are always calling us with complaints about roof rats, but what they have are standard pack rats. We know this because their droppings are rounder than roof rat droppings, which of course are more cylindrical.

NT: Of course. Hey, people on the East Coast live with rats all the time. Why are we such wussies out here?

Paceley: We're very spoiled. In terms of keeping bugs and vermin out, Phoenix is sort of a safe harbor. The desert kept us insulated from all the bad crawly things.

NT: Except in Arcadia. Why are the rats flocking to one of the best neighborhoods? Are they classist rats?

Paceley: It's completely coincidental. These rats were probably brought into Phoenix from California, maybe in an old couch or something. It was probably a case of a pregnant rat saying, "Hey, here's a comfy place to hang," and she ended up in Phoenix. After three or four years, her comfy ride resulted in three or four thousand rats.

NT: Where will the Arcadia roof rats go if you run them off? Will they end up, like most rats, living behind cheap cabinetry in welfare housing?

Paceley: Unless someone deliberately takes one of these animals out of the area, they'll probably just move down the street a couple of doors. Rats aren't that bright. They're smart enough to not get into a trap, but not enough to know they're being surrounded and pursued. They also drown quickly and easily, so there's no chance of one of them falling into the canal and ending up in residency at the Biltmore.

NT: I read about something called the Arcadia Roof Rat Rally. Were there little rat competitions? Were there tiny foot races with cat food and pomegranates as prizes?

Paceley: No. I don't think so. If we had fleas, people might come see a trained flea circus. Rats aren't the same draw. The rally was just a kickoff for our citrus program, a general call to people to join in and help run the rats out. We went out and picked the citrus so that it wouldn't attract rats, and we shipped it out to the Papagos, the Hopis, the Navajos; 37 tons of citrus went directly to local tribes.

NT: It sounds like your rats have been good for promoting neighborliness.

Paceley: Yes, because neighbors are exchanging phone numbers and getting to know people they didn't know before. The rats are doing some interesting things for us.

NT: It sounds cozy. Maybe I should come over and kill rats with you guys.

Paceley: You could. You might need to bring your own Zapper, though.

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