Now that I’ve posted a happy outcome for animals living under my deck, I now have to post a sad outcome. 
A couple of weeks ago, I lifted up the most difficult boards of my deck, which I’d previously been unable to unscrew because of limited time and patience. I was having a party, and I wanted to get the deck and garden in spiffy shape. It was time. In the weeks prior to that, I reported on something having died under the deck. And yes, it had. Here is the initial view:
Upon closer inspection, it revealed that the handsome boy rat I’d seen in my garden earlier this spring – and he was handsome! – had made his home under the boards. To the left you can see the collection of paper and plastic scraps he had collected to line his nest. I find this a charming habit. When I had previously lifted the boards above where the skunk has always lived, there is no such collection of “blankets.” Only rats, and perhaps squirrels, do this, as far as I know – birds make nests only when they’re fixing to have young. 

But in the upper corner, you can see he is not lying in state on his bed. No. And I was sad to see the decomposing body, which I buried with a little prayer. (I am, however, grateful that creatures have chosen my property as the best place to die at.)

Instead, you see that he went to the other corner of his cabin under the deck for his final agonies. And agonies they were, because the turquoise staining you see at the tail end of his skeleton is not mouldy fur, as one might assume. It is the stain of a block of poison. And the little fellow ate a lot of it.

I only made the connection when my resident squirrels, unwittingly helpful creatures they are, positioned a block on top of the fence leading to my patio balcony. I wondered where that thing that looks like a rock came from until I picked it up: it was poison. And I’m glad the squirrels only played with or consumed just a little of it, and left it out in the open from wherever they found it. I’ve put it in a container inside, I don’t know what for. Evidence, perhaps. As if I need evidence that someone has decided to “solve” a problem because that is what it has been presented as.

A single rat in the backyard is not a problem. There is lots in nature to take care of “problems.” I used exclusion (a chicken wire fence) to keep the beasts out of my lettuce garden, where I feared losing my harvest, and also hardware cloth under my composter, which otherwise might encourage the rodents to proliferate. I’m the only one really doing this – feeding the birds, composting, gardening, fencing. Maybe more people should try these all and get a sense of perspective, than assume that the presence of a rat is attributable to these nefarious habits, and a problem worth the suffering that poison causes.