Norwegian Rat Found in Maplewood Hall

 A Norwegian rat found its way into a bathroom in Maple­wood apartment 2D on Sunday, March 10. Jim Pillar, Associ­ate Vice President for Student Services, said this was the first time anything larger than a field mouse had made its way into one of the buildings on the residential side of campus.

That evening, resident Mi­chael Wick walked into the bathroom to take a shower. He glanced down to the garbage can and to his surprise there was a large rat in the garbage can. “I freaked out a little bit, told one my roommates and he called Carlos and told him we had a little bit of a situation on our hands,” Wick said.

Junior Carlos Guevara was on the other side of Maplewood when he got the phone call. “I didn’t believe him at all at first because I just couldn’t believe that there was a rat in our room and it was overwhelming to see something the size of a small house cat in the garbage can,” Guevara said.

The boys did not notify Resi­dential Life or the Monmouth University Police Department (MUPD) as they chose to han­dle the situation themselves.

Guevara thought he’d be able to catch the rat in an old iced tea container, but realized the rat was too big to fit in it. In­stead he took an old piece of poster board, provided to him by fellow roommate Carmine Ruocco, and placed it over the garbage can sealing the rat in­side.

Guevara then picked up the garbage can, while holding the poster board in place, and ran outside to release the rat.

Junior Raquel Warehime cap­tured the entire event on video, which quickly went viral on Face­book. Warehime said what was most surprising was that the rat would not leave the garbage can until Guevara emptied the entire can. “He didn’t want to get out of it,” Warehime said. “My thoughts were that it was cold outside so the rat wanted to find a warm place to stay or that the rat was so scared he had no idea what to do or where to go.”

The witnesses said the rat remained outside of Maplewood for hours until it eventually disappeared back into the bushes.

Following this event, Ruocco noti­fied Pillar, who then put a call into fa­cilities to have an exterminator come in. “Jim did an excellent [job] in help­ing us out with the problems,” Ruocco said. “He contacted Vice President Swannack as soon as I told him about it and they both sent facilities over.”

Pillar would like to remind students to make Residential Life aware situa­tions if something like this were to oc­cur again. “When students don’t say anything the problems can increase. We knew as soon as it happened and the extermination team was out there looking at the building and had the baiting traps outside,” Pillar said. “Thanks to the video the extermina­tor was able to identify the type of rat it was.”

According to Orkin.com, the Nor­wegian rat is a type of rat that nests in underground burrows and they of­ten enter buildings in search of food. They can reach lengths of about 16 inches and their tails could measure up to to seven inches in length.

The exterminator told Pillar that the rat could have come inland because of Superstorm Sandy. Pillar said he was told that the rat was of such a large size because it is a close relative of the possum family.

Wick realized they could have han­dled the situation better but chose to act themselves rather than waiting for Res Life. “We were kind of in shock at first so we could have technically called MUPD to see if they could have taken the rat out but it’s not like a rat comes in your room every day, so we handled it ourselves,” Wick said. “If we reported it earlier they could have taken it and then we would have never released it back outside.”

Guevara said he has heard stories about rats being on campus before. “If there was a problem and the Universi­ty was aware of it, then it should have been handled sooner,” Guevara said.

The boys said rats have been seen outside of Maplewood before. They said their Resident Assistant, Rose­mary Wandel, has seen a family of rats in the bushes in the front of Ma­plewood. Wandel did not respond to inquiries fromThe Outlook.

Pillar believes the rat was able to get inside the building because the boys had reported that one of the main doors to Maplewood was propped open, as was the door to the boys apartment. He said it’s very pos­sible that’s how the rat got in and he reminded his staff to keep an eye out for propped open doors. “It was warm that Saturday so the exterminator believes it came in through the open door so I reminded my staff and the police to make sure that when they’re doing rounds they are shutting the front doors of the buildings,” Pillar said.

Vice President for Administrative Ser­vices Patti Swannack said the exterminator has been here every day since then and has placed rat poison around the residential buildings. According to Swannack, the poison is supposed to drive the rats towards water and away from the build­ings.

Swannack recom­mends students care­fully dispose of trash, even though it may not have been the cause in this situation. “Trash always attracts vermin and everybody should dispose of their trash because it could help avoid other occurrences like this one,” Swannack said.

Up to this point, there have been no other reported incidents of rats on the residential side of campus. To see the video of the rat inside Maplewood visit:

PHOTO TAKEN by Dustin Schwartz