Tuesday, October 11, 2011

#112 - Trespassing Critters

My youngest daughter has the entire upstairs to herself. This is great for a college student, then it's also bad for a gal who doesn't like to be far from other people in the house. So, since Deputy Dave and I have purchased a mattress that does not seem to be benefiting our bad backs, we decided to move upstairs to another one of our bedrooms and onto a mattress we had used for a short while and had loved.

Now, we're all happy. Stefie is not so far away and alone in the large house and we're sleeping comfortably.

To add to the decision for us to move upstairs, it was easy because the downstairs is a bit warm. Our house is strange because normally it's the upstairs that remains hotter. This is Texas, it is not always so easy to keep the second story of a home as cool as the first floor, but our house is flip-flopped.

We have been through such a long drought with excessive heat and we were ready for some cool air, so we moved our bedside belongings upstairs and since we've been sleeping in one of the guest rooms, we are well rested and much more energetic during the day. The room is so cool that it's like we're stepping into a refrigerator. It is freezing in that room. However, we don't complaint because this freezing air flowing nicely through the air-conditioning vents means that we sleep like babies.

However, poor Stefie kept being woke at night by scratching sounds, pouncing sounds and other critter-sounds in her ceiling and walls. Her room is on the other side of the upstairs layout...hers is the furthest room from the others and the entire reason she selected it when we purchased this house. Since her room backs up to one of the attic spaces, we figured that we might have an unwelcomed guest. I dreaded this possibility because all of my holiday decorations are in this attic space. And you know the old saying, if there is one rat that you can hear or see, then there are ten more hiding around the corner.

Over the past few weeks, Deputy Dave put out large rat traps with a smudge of peanut butter as a lure. SNAP, the trap would go off and the peanut butter would be gone, but there would be no evidence of the critter being trapped. The scratching sounds in the walls grew more intense. Stefie would send me a text message at one in the morning, "Get in here quick! It's making super loud sounds over my bed in my ceiling and I'm scared!"

I'd run to her room, jump under the covers and we'd give each other amused but freaked out expressions as the sounds overhead made us wonder if the critter was about to come through the sheetrock. I felt bad about leaving her in there by herself, so I claimed power over the television remote control and stayed. On these mornings, Deputy Dave would wake up thinking that my stack of pillows next to him was actually me...then he'd go on the search, knowing that we girls were up listening to the sounds of big creepy crawlers invading our house.

One night, I woke up at 2:00 am for a potty break. Yes, I am a night-peeing person...a toilet night-peeing person, and I had just stepped into the hallway heading for the bathroom when overhead, the attic drop door let out a huge SNAP sound and I actually heard an animal noise, as if the animal were hissing. Of course, I had already taken a few steps and was at the threshold of the bathroom when all of this took place and the noise overhead made me so frightened that I jumped into the bathroom, slammed the door and stood there feeling trapped. I didn't know how in the world I'd be able to step back out into that hallway!

I knew Deputy Dave would be awake at 5:00am, so that meant I'd have three hours in the bathroom. I was so tired, but I wasn't sure if the attic door in the ceiling hadn't come open with the large banging that had occurred directly on top of it. I was terrified to open the bathroom door to make an inspection. So, what did I do Well...I the proper place.

After realizing that I did not want to spend three hours in the bathroom, I mustered the courage to crack the door and look upward. To my relief, the attic door was still firmly closed. Being the warrior I was born to be...I ran for it. I ran the full five paces it took to get to our bedroom door and I made it safe inside the bedroom as Deputy Dave continued sleeping soundly, never knowing the terror I'd just endured. I decided to not wake him to fill him in on the latest with the critter, it could wait until morning. I'm thoughtful like that...most often.

He may disagree, in which case, let me state that he is wrong.

Over the next few days, Deputy Dave was sick and tired of setting and resetting that huge rat trap. After all the attempts had been made, the rat was simply becoming fatter, smarter and probably was inviting all of his buddies over to enjoy the nightly feasts compliments of Peter Pan.

Worse, the rat had indeed eaten through some newly installed insulation and the damage to our house was on a roll. The destruction could not continue. Soon, we'd be finding ourselves with these rats running around inside our house and us running for the outdoors.

So, we did the hard thing and bought rat poison. After making a delectable mixture of poison and peanut butter, Deputy Dave set the trays throughout the attic.

And you won't believe this...the first day after he had set out the poison, he found a tray with the poison pellets still inside of it, but all of the peanut butter licked off of the poison pellets. We were flabbergasted. What kind of rats were these little boogers? Albert Rat Einstein versions?

Still, Deputy Dave didn't give up. The next couple of days he would check the trays of poison and would find them untouched. Then, finally, he went into the attic one afternoon to find poison missing. I guess since the rat could see that the peanut butter fiasco was over, he took the second-choice appetizer, the pellets themselves.

A few days passed. I was giving thanks that we were having 80 degree weather instead of 100 degree weather...I cannot express the smell of a decomposing animal during high heat. Not pleasant, not pleasant at all.

Then, the other night, Deputy Dave was outside on the back patio hosing off the concrete from any chicken poop residue and I walked outside with the dogs. Howdy runs to the backyard, Belle the little Yorkie follows along, but Lyla immediate veered to her left and began some serious sniffing along the brick of the back of the house. I could not get her attention. She was focused and refusing to be re-directed.

In the dim light of the evening, I peered closer to see what she was so intrigued about...maybe a frog...and I saw it...a big rat. My naive mind first took the "nice" route of wondering if the rat could be taking a rest, then my intelligent harsh side screamed, "Dead Rat!"

I yelled for the dogs to get back inside the house. OH MY GOSH. My dogs now have dead rat residue on their's being tracked inside my house...dead rat...dead rat...dead rat.

Yes, I have slight obsessive tendencies. Heck, we all have our issues.

Anyway, after I rounded up all of the four-legged creatures into the house, with the exception of the dead rat, Deputy Dave got a garden tool and pulled out the dead rat for an inspection. He quickly discovered that the rat do you say..."Freshly" dead?

There were no marks on the rat whatsoever to indicate any animal had pecked or bit or poked at the dead rat. Obviously, it had just made its death march from the attic back outside to our patio so that it could get its revenge. Actually, the worst revenge would've been for it to take its last breath in a crevice of the attic.

As Deputy Dave toted the dead rat on the tool toward the trash bin, I watched from the kitchen window and yelled, "WAIT, let me get the camera!"

He chuckles, "Of course, it's a photo op."

Absolutely, this is the dead rat's first and last photo sitting. And, click, click...two shots to give me the creeps with Deputy Dave finding the boy in him making a cruel, quick jab my direction with dead rat on the prongs. Not funny. Not funny at all.

The house sure is a lot quieter these days. Stefie can do her math homework until the wee morning hours or get a good night's rest to spend a day substituting at the local school district because her privacy is undisturbed by a peanut butter eating rodent.

I wonder if the country has more rats or fewer rats than the city? I've been told that the country has less because there are other larger critters to take care of those smaller ones, especially if you keep your feed and grain sealed up properly. I don't like rats. I've had some hairy encounters with some McDaddyRats, and let me tell you, it didn't do wonders for my psychological state. Mice are one thing, rats are another. They carry diseases, are destructive and disgusting...I'm just relieved that we are one more rat down. Of course, his brethren are still in hiding, maybe they'll go across the street, where it's safer...yes...go to Paul's house. They use Jiff.


Anonymous said...

Ha! Mr. Rat you meet you match with Deputy Dave. We had a rat in our loft at our old house The walls had straw packed in them (it was quite a new house next to a railway line)We had to put down poison, the smell of decaying rat is indescribable even the thought of it is enough to make me feel queasy. Poor Steve had to go and get it from the loft. It had died in the space beneath the flooring and the joists. He had to get down on all fours and search for the darn thing he found it ok he put his hand right through it ! Poor chap was traumatized for weeks!!!

LindaG said...

Are you still leaving the traps set just in case? I would, since you said there are probably more.

But hopefully that was the one and only!

I prefer sleeping when it's cooler, too. We're probably going to have a window air conditioner at the farm for the bedroom.

Glad to know you are a toilet-peeing person. ;-)

*Hugs* I don't like any of the mouse family either!

Anonymous said...

Goodnight Irene...that is one big rat !
We live in the country and no rats here........but all the other wild creatures are around....speaking of that your rat looks more like the possum size around here.
Course I have always heard the everything's bigger in Texas.... :). Beth

Rae said...

Ew! Ew ew ew! The only rat we've seen was when we first bought our place. Henry got that one. We've had mice in the house, and the little nasty $&@%*s chewed on the silicone wrapped handles of my cookware, AND ate half a bar of soap in a bathroom drawer. Hope it poisoned the little @$$xxxx. Grrr. Between snap traps and live traps (they go in and can't get out), I think we got 'em. We won't use poison, as Henry loves to kill rodents, and Cammi loves to eat them. And I mean LOOOOOVESSS to eat them. Yuck. said...

Sueb --- yes, the smell is definitely something that cannot be matched. One time, we walked into a MEAT MARKET and it had that distinct dead RAT smell; we turned right around and walked out. You cannot get that smell out of your nostrils for a couple of days. Sounds like the one that got into your walls was not fun to retrieve. Augh.

Linda --- the traps are still set and there is more poison up there. I'm always freaking out about poison because of the other animals we have around here, but we have been careful. Still, poison has its drawbacks, but it also has its bonuses, such as finally getting that critter to come to an end with feasting on our house. And I think we'll probably put in a window unit in the master bedroom as well. I'm not sure how it will work with installing mechanicals upfront for the shell home. So many expenses!!! And I'm with you for mice. I don't like them either. But compared to the massive five pound water rats we get around here, the mice look like angels! :-)

Beth --- You cracked me up! Goodnight Irene indeed. It was a mini-monster and it was no wonder that it made such a disturbance in the attic...big guy to to bumping around and leaping from rafter to rafter for the next hole to chew. I've taken pictureso of rats twice this size. We even weighed one a long time ago, it was OVER 5 weighed more than our full grown four-pound chihuahua. Shudder to remember that one! As for Texas, some things are not better if they're bigger. Especially rats.

Rae --- I bet you would've beaten the little booger over the head with the rest of your pot! Your soap must be delicious! I think we really need to try to use live traps. Maybe the feed store would have them. I've heard of people doing that on their farms and then drowning the critter. I don't know what I should do????? But, I will check into the live traps.

Rae said...

I only like the live traps because the little jerks can't steal the bait and run away like they do with the snap traps. :) They're well and truly stuck, AND I don't have to touch them. I make LJ empty the snap traps. Retch. I have no problem gutting a chicken, but rodents are groooooosssssss! If I remember, I'll send you info on the ones we use. Home Depot carries them, and your local farm store should too. said...

Rae --- thanks for the info...I'll definitely put them on our list!