My attitude toward wildlife is live-and-let-live, but I prefer it to do its living outside my personal area. I don't think this is a lot to ask, and I find that most wildlife is very willing to abide by this common-sense rule. I avoid the trash area outside my house after dark, knowing that from sundown to sunup, it is the domain of Raccoons of Unusual Size. They relinquish the area to the humans come daybreak. We come up with ways to keep them out of the trash; they occasionally defeat us. I believe this is what's known as The Circle of Life.
This morning, however, as I was moving trash to the curb, a rat leaped out of the barrel at me. Really, right at me. It wasn't attacking me or anything, just trying to get on with its Rat Life and do its Rat Things, when it leaped out of the barrel and was confronted by me. At the same time, I was confronted by it. Neither of us was thrilled.
I did the only intelligent thing, which was to scream and jump back while the rat flew through the air and landed at my feet. Then we did a little dance where I was trying unsuccessfully to keep both feet off the ground at the same time and the rat was trying not to get stepped on. I provided musical accompaniment by shrieking. The rat kept a cooler head than I did, making a quick turn and exiting stage right. I continued to whimper like a schoolgirl. It took me several minutes to work up the courage to finish moving the barrel and then go back to move the other one to the curb.
Later in the day, I asked one of my co-workers where I could get supplies before next week's trash day - specifically, welding gloves, a welder's apron, waders, and a hockey mask. He felt I was over-reacting and suggested I bring a broom outside with me and whack the barrels before I move them so anything inside will run out. It was a good suggestion, granted, but one that leaves me unprotected in the event that one of the little critters runs toward me.
I said, "But it was a super-rat. Highly intelligent and skilled! I could see it in his eyes."
My friend said "No it wasn't. It was probably the dumbest rat in Newport. It just got the jump on you."
What does he know? He wasn't there.