I can see the area from my study window and over the years I've become familiar with the resident birds and squirrels and have watched generations come and go.
Several years ago a family of rats took up residence under this deck. It always starts with an adult or two. They cautiously poke their heads out from under the deck, and when the coast is clear, they scoot out to join the birds and squirrels in chowing down on the seed. Pretty soon they are joined by the little ones, with little pink ears, noses and tails. What some would describe as, "precious."
Of course, the first thing my wife, and everyone else for that matter, says when they hear this story is... Why don't you kill them!
Now I have always taken a "live and let live" attitude when it comes to Mother Nature and every creature plays a role in this world and every creature has a right to exist and to "be." So long as they don't threaten me, I am no threat to them. And that goes for these rats as well. Besides, they provide a lot of entertainment, and some sadness. You see, rats are pretty much at the bottom of the carnivore food chain, and when the rats show up, so do the predators.
My little rat terrier, Skeeter, finds them endlessly fascinating. He can sniff and scratch at them for hours. He once located the nest and dug them out. I found him happily munching down on the newborns. Arrrggghhh! I patched the hole and pretty much made the abode Skeeter proof, but that doesn't stop him from trying.
We have a family of Barred Owls in the neighborhood. They're pretty fearless and will sometimes land on the deck rail right next to me. At first light and sunset, they, mother and child, take up their positions in a tree above the feeding ground. The squirrels are to large to be prey for them. It's the rats they're after.
Then there are the other predators, like stray cats, and this beautiful corn snake, or red rat snake as the locals would say. This is the baby, the adult, now about 5' long, is around as well. They're pretty shy, because they too are prey to the owls.
Needless to say, it doesn't take long for all of the little pink noses and ears to disappear. But fear not for it won't be long before they're back again. Such is life.