home life

Oh, Rats!

This week would have been a lot less complicated, if it wasn’t for the rat issue.

rat

Distracted is a mild way to describe the state of our household, since our neighbor called us:

Early in the week, she happened to look out her window and saw “a large, grey creature with a long tail” running between our houses. “Maybe it was a possum?” she suggested hopefully.

It was late, the kids needed baths and books and bed, lunches needed to be made for the next day, the trash needed to be taken out… Hubby agreed to go take a look when he dragged the barrels out front.

A little while later, DRAMA. Hubby went, he saw, he flipped out. Rats. Big ones, many of them, running from their big holes along the sides of both of our front steps to the composter out back.

Now, Hubby has a rodent phobia. NOTHING freaks him out more. When we met, I was living in Baltimore, near the harbor. One night, when we were walking to dinner, a massive rat ambled across the street ahead of us. “WHAT WAS THAT?” Hubby almost jumped into my arms. We never walked around downtown after dark again. Then, one night, we were talking on the phone, and I mentioned that I thought I heard a mouse in my basement apartment. “WHAT DID YOU SAY?” Hubby never came over again after that, except to help me move into his pristine condo in Annapolis.

Avoidance wouldn’t work this time. So, he made a bunch of calls, and lickety-split, he had an exterminator arranged for early the next morning. Since then, we’ve learned that there is a big rodent problem in our part of town, and no one is sure why. Hypotheses abound: some recent major construction affecting the sewer lines upstream; the mild winter; the trendiness of composting.

Oh, I bet those rats were thrilled with our compost. I could just imagine the scout rat that first burrowed under the flimsy plastic base and into all that vegetable matter, calling to his buddies: Hey guys! Check this out! Mmm- mmm, Watermelon rinds, squishy pumpkins, a giant zucchini, avocados… and, heeeey… MANGO! Sniff sniff. Organic too, fancy. This is the good stuff. I say we move in.

Well, Hubby emptied every little peel into the trash, and onto the curb it went. He tossed the actual contraption as well, and took down all the bird feeders to boot. He rinsed the recycling clean clean before putting it out. The exterminator came and stuffed poison bait down the holes and set bait traps (you would let him, too, if it was your house).

Yuck. The whole thing has been awful. The idea is horrifying: Disease! Pestilence! Rat bites! The only good thing is that we’re not the only ones. The rats are all over, and more neighbors are discovering that they have burrows, too.

The other good thing is that the rats are not IN the house. The exterminator is pretty sure about that. Since we now have four cats in the house (two adults and two kittens), the overwhelming odor of predator may be keeping them out. Or, they just didn’t need to come in because, hey, there was this smorgasbord in the backyard. Why bother?

The exterminator came back this morning, and the bait was ALL gone. We haven’t been seeing them running around at dusk, either. I’m breathing a sigh of relief, not only to have a safer, more hygienic environment, but also because I can stop worrying that Hubby is going to suffer some major cardiopulmonary event secondary to stress and anxiety. Thank you, Boric acid and peanut butter!

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