Rats! That’s one big varmint

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

A Clovis woman was surprised Tuesday when her pit bull puppy brought her a gift. Laying in the yard with two scrounged socks was a large, dead rat.

Wilma Stotts said the rodent’s size startled her.

“I’ve never seen a rat that big; that rat was longer than my feet,” she said.

Her dog Angel often fetches her things, “and then she fetched me that — it was bigger than a puppy,” she said.

Animal control officers responded to her call and picked the critter up for disposal.

Larry Rogers, a veteran officer of more than 17 years, said he has never seen anything like it on the job.

“I couldn’t believe it was so big when I first saw it. I thought, ‘That’s not a rat, it’s a possum,’” he said.

Measuring the carcass back at the office, Rogers said it was 16 inches from its nose to the tip of its tail.

People call with rat sightings that more often than not turn out to be possums or other rodents, Rogers said, explaining he can’t recall ever being called out for a rat comparable in size to Stotts’ find.

The animal’s body will be disposed of, Rogers said.

The rat is within normal size parameters for some species found locally according to Francis Warner, Clovis Vector Control officer.

Though he did not see the animal, he said, based on the description, it fit the profile of a Norway rat, a species common to the area, Warner said.

Rogers said an abandoned building near the Stotts home may have harbored the rat and could be home to others.

Stotts, who said she moved to her home on Connelly Street four months ago, expressed concern.

“Our city needs cleaning. We just need them to start spraying these alleys and make them do something about these empty buildings — make them put down poison or something,” she said.

Warner said rodent-related calls have not increased recently.