Tuesday, July 11, 2017

“Return of the Roof Rat”

            Last fall, a family of roof rats decided to take up residence in our home. At first, we’d hear scurrying during the night. The laundry room became their preferred nesting area, and when we pulled the washing machine out of its nook, we discovered the critters had chewed through the drywall, giving them full access to one side of the house.
            “I want them dead!” was my response as David spent a weekend repairing their damage.
            “I think I can catch them,” he replied before he headed to Home Depot to buy everything he needed to build three live traps.
            Almost immediately he caught three juvenile rats, all too young and stupid not to avoid the peanut butter and dog food bait he’d set out. The parents, however, proved more cunning. They chewed through the water hose of our dishwasher, I’m certain, as revenge for their little ones disappearing.
            “I want them dead!” I exclaimed again as another weekend was wasted fixing that damage.
            “I think I can catch them,” David insisted as he changed the bait and location of his traps.
            It took a few more days before Papa rat was trapped.
          But Mama proved to be shrewd and bold. She’d race along the attic at night or scuttle behind walls. One day, we heard her behind the wall between the kitchen and the laundry room. David gave the wall a sound pound to scare her.
            “I want her dead!” I demanded when she chomped her way through that very wall later in the day.
           Sensing that this female possessed an intellect beyond her mate and offspring, we called our exterminator, who sent someone out immediately. Poison and traps went into both attics, and he placed something outside as well. We never saw that mother roof rat again, but the stench of her decay filled our house for days. Another trip to Home Depot led to our discovery of Gonzo products. Soon the reek slipped into memory.
            A few weeks ago, I scolded Koi for digging into the pot of one of my plants. Over several evenings, he managed to pull out the lovely leaves of a large Brazil philodendron, I thought, while trying to see out the front window. Eventually, I shifted the plant outside to protect it from damage. When something disturbed the soil of a second potted plant, I realized Koi wasn’t involved. A search of the living room revealed more roof rat droppings. I called the exterminator immediately, but his first opening was a week away.
            And David pulled out his live traps again while I set out a poison trap in an area that the dogs won’t access. I made certain to put the dogs’ food bowls up on a counter and cover them every night if the contained any food. I moved more plants outside and kept my eyes open. Whereas the last roof rat family contained their activity in one part of the house, this time we’ve seen sign in four different rooms. Either we have another extended family living with us, or one rat that gets around.
            Last night, David changed the bait in one trap to a little slice of orange. This morning, he woke up to find a male rat captured inside!
           Logic tells me that he’s built a nest somewhere, and I suspect he has a family hidden in the attic. I can’t wait until tomorrow when our exterminator arrives. He’ll strategically place traps and poison throughout the house. We will continue to set the live traps, too.  One way or another, we’ll win this battle!

Today's catch!

Copyright 2017 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman 

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