Anyway, I've been through a 5-pound package of rat bait, so far. I'm down to about half a cup of the stuff, and they just keep eating it up. However, if my neighbor was watching rats run around at night, and they were bold enough to run right across her cat, I'm suspecting the rat problem is serious, possibly MUCH more serious than I'd estimated. If they were eating the bark off my tree, this also indicates starving rats, which implies a high rat population, since I'm sure they've been eating the cat food that she puts out on her porch, too. What amazes me is how fast they're going through the rat chow---um, bait--in the garage. I put out about a cupful every two days, and pow, it's gone. Since it looks like they were trying to nest, in there, I'd say the garage had developed its own rat colony.
My theory about this population explosion is threefold:
1. The owls that lived in the big tree behind me are gone (their nest has disappeared), and they had been helping to keep the population down.
2. The neighbors kitty-corner to the rear tore down a bunch of old sheds last year, so I may have inherited their rats.
3. It's been very wet, and rats love to live in sewers, which are now flooded. Gotta go somewhere.
Time to buy more rat bait...