Literally. Patches came trotting into the study while I was at the computer, jumped up next to her food bowl behind me and plopped the thing next to it, presumably to have a kibble appetizer before her main course. Except the still-very-much-alive and relatively small (perhaps young) rat (or the largest freakin’ mouse I’ve ever seen; about 11-12 inches long, tail included) didn’t cooperate and tried to get away. This forced Patches to scramble and grab it up and exit, which is when I saw it in her jaws. Suddenly the previous commotion at the food bowl I’d not paid attention to made sense and up I got to chase Patches into the backyard so she wouldn’t drop it in the house.
She obliged, running out the back door, up on the patio and behind the barbeque grill, which when I slammed it startled her into abandoning her catch. The rat in the meantime hobbled on an injured rear foot/leg under the patio table where I was able to catch it up in a shoebox and install it in Buster’s old reptiquarium, where it can hopefully de-stress while I figure out if I should take it to an animal rescue place of if its injury is minor enough to let it heal and release it.
I’ve observed it drinking some water and limping around, so I’m cautiously optimistic that there aren’t any internal injuries.
On a side note, this critter and I might very well be related, so to speak. If not one of the backyard litter I assisted (after inadvertently destroying their den) back in 2007, then maybe it’s one of their offspring.
UPDATED (11.30): My optimism came too early. I found the rat dead this morning. Sigh.