Saturday, April 21, 2018

Rats! Rats! Rats!

What could be worse than a bunch of rats running around in the house, I thought? Didn't take long to find out.

A rat no longer running around in the house.

A rat three days past running around anywhere.

In the cold air return. Way, way in.

When we have company staying over.

Not the kind of company where it's all the same to you if they suddenly discover they need to rush home for their dog's spa treatment. The nice kind. The sweet kind of people that speak gently with their sweaters bunched up past their noses and say it's hardly noticeable.

This is the sort of thing that makes an adult out of you in a hurry. The duct system in the house hasn't been cleaned since it was installed, twenty years ago. So it's probably time to schedule that. And mention the rodent, in case they can do something about it.

And maybe it's time to tackle the little holes up on the roofline where the Rat Guy said the rats were getting in. Even though you're pretty sure they're getting in other ways too. And replace the siding on that steep dormer wall that you put off replacing ten years ago.

So I went on Yelp and within an hour I had a licensed contractor who could clean the ducts and come out the next morning at nine, plus another one who could replace the siding and thwart the rats at eight. That seemed auspicious in itself. The first worked at a flat fee, and the second worked by the hour plus materials. Neither was in the slave class that most of us would prefer to employ. You know. The independent operator who'd prefer to be paid in cash, thank you, and works real hard and does a nice job and doesn't contribute to Social Security or public education or the war effort or anything. Nothing against those guys, but I'm a union girl and a bit of a socialist. So.

The siding guys came out and the clock began ticking. Beyond materials there would also be a charge for the dumpster, and instead of it taking a half day as I had imagined, they were looking at three. The duct guys came out and stuck their entire heads in the cold air return, emerging with their hair falling out in clumps and in full agreement that there was an ex-rodent in there. They couldn't promise they'd get him, but sometimes they did get something sucked up in the vacuum. That was okay. I'd read up, and knew to expect that. I wouldn't have stuck my personal head in that vent for twice what they were charging.

You know how fun it is to drop a little money on something really nice and new and pretty? A piece of art, a new sofa? This isn't like that.

They're hammering on the outside of the house, and inside a vacuum is set up, right next to the imaginary stack of $100 bills flipping over one by one and disappearing down the vent.

The duct guys left and wished me the best of luck. They hoped they'd gotten the little bugger.

They didn't. I think they did stir him up a little, though. In a week or so it will turn into a harmless cracker.

Next up: flies.

47 comments:

  1. Just don't get started thinking how much cheaper it all would have been if you'd had it done years ago. Still, better late than never I suppose.

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    1. Putting things off, actually, is one of my best money-saving techniques.

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    2. That's my style too, but now the chickens have come home to roost. Termites, dry rot, etc. Good luck with your siding.

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    3. Termites, dry rot, and chickens! It's a plague!

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  2. Eventually the rat will be a crispy critter. I always did my own maintenance, but with a little professional help on bigger plumbing and electrical projects. If those things come up again I will probably have to get a professional as I am no longer as physically capable of doing some of those things. A lot of it has to do with flexibility. If I have to bend like a pretzel I will likely stay that way.

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    1. For a long time it never occurred to us to hire other people to do stuff. Now if I can't figure out how to do something in five minutes on YouTube, I'm on the phone.

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    2. Crispy or not, that dead rat smell will be there for a long, long time. Take up meditation and use incense a lot.

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    3. Or, just get a mat and cushion and set them in a corner in front of a mandala on the wall. That will give you an excuse for the incense. You don't actually have to use them.

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    4. Man. I'd put the smell of incense only slightly above the smell of dead rat. On the other hand, every time I breathed in I'd feel like I was sixteen again.

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  3. I worked with someone who had a large animal - a possum, maybe? - die in one of his walls. The guy he hired to address it sdaid wait until the smell centralized in one spot, and then they cut away the wall there and retrieved the body.

    I suppose it's different for something that large.

    This is why i rent. Worse comes to rent, I'll just move.

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  4. With technology these days, why couldn't the duct guys have stuck a little camera on their vacuum so they could see around corners? Plumbers do it!

    I hope they got Ratty. We've had a couple of mice die in the kitchen/closet wall and that smell was penetrating enough. It was worse still listening to them futilely scratching and getting fainter every day. After a third one showed up I convinced my husband to cut a hole in the wall. That mouse was caught and released outside. Haven't needed the removable hatch since.

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    1. How come they kept getting in there but couldn't get out? Defective mice.

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  5. Where'd you get the idea there is such a thing as a harmless cracker?

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  6. Love your socialist ways. And am a paid up member.
    I found a headless rat in the lounge room and thought that was ugly enough. I obviously hadn't considered the possibilites well enough.

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    1. I once found a tail in my shed. Months later, I found the cat it belonged to.

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  7. I thought of you when I was talking to my bro-in-law yesterday. He's in the process of cleaning out his mom's house (she died in December). There was one of those old pop-up campers that had been parked, unused, behind the garage for about 40 years. He decided to open it up to see if anything could be salvaged, and when he did, a few thousand mice came streaming out. What was left of the canvas and the cushions was soaked with mouse pee, and every surface was covered with the poop of countless generations. He ended up pulling out all the soft parts and having a bonfire, and then hauling the metal shell to the recycling center. I was glad I wasn't there. A mouse or two doesn't faze me, but I think I'd freak out if that many came flying at me!

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    1. Oh for heaven's sake. Your brother is either a saint or a nut. I would've napalmed the whole thing. Did you read that post I put in a year or so ago about my friend Katie's car? Same condition.

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  8. When we cleaned out my mother's garage we found two big rat mummies--just a few shreds of dry fur on their crispy white skeletons. It's really hot here in summer, so I doubt they spent much time in the squishy, acrid stage. (I never noticed it, anyway.) I once rented a home in a temperate climate where there was apparently something dead in a garage wall--the smell was appalling! We moved before it ever improved--but that was almost a year later.

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    1. Oh dear: I really thought the smell goes away after a while.

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    2. Our mice in the wall lasted about a month, smell-wise. I had to take everything out of the closet so it didn't absorb. Not good to show up at work in a jacket drenched with eau de souris.

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    3. Forgot to summarize: it probably depends on the size of the carcass, or at least how much flesh is on there.

      Eww. I'm grossing my own self out.

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    4. Crispy cat mummies. Reminds me of a visit to Monhegan Island, Maine and a young entrepreneur made a tidy sum with his dead cat museum.

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    5. Would that have been a very young neighborhood-style entrepreneur, with a bright future in serial murder?

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  9. Do you have skunks in Portland?


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    1. Yeah, I guess, but I've sure never seen one. I think they'd be out on the fringes of the city, more.

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  10. I guess mice are smarter than rats in that they can navigate a maze!! Rats must have lesser brains...

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    1. They seem to use rats rather than mice when they do drug trials, so maybe they were drugged-up rats who couldn't navigate their way out again: "Dude.... What did we crawl in here for, again? Look at my paw! It's enormous!"

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    2. I just looked it up, and although most people have assumed rats are smarter than mice, actually they're about the same. That, there, would be one uninteresting factoid, but I present it to you anyway.

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  11. Curious if you were away from the house much, maybe traveling, during the fall and winter. When we had our Rat Event (one, each), it was when we were spending weeks at a time on the opposite coast bonding with the brand new, high and exalted grandson. I think a rat likes a quiet place to live with no close neighbors. Certainly, no shared walls. I get that. Must have been quite a shock to it when we moved back in and took out a contract on it.

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    1. Oh dear god! I must be a rat!

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    2. If they like quiet so dang much, why did they set up a BOWLING ALLEY?

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  12. I once had a mouse decide to die somewhere behind the dashboard of the car in one of the hottest summers we had had in a long time. 90+degrees every day. The mechanic said it would have been a big job to remove the dash so spent the summer waiting for the mouse to desiccate. Moth balls in the ash tray and all the windows down helped. Took about 2 months for the smell to go away.

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    1. Yeah, but then what did you do to get rid of the smell of moth balls?

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    2. Mothballs are horrible carcinogens and dead mice just make you wish you were dead.

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  13. If you didn't get rid of the rat, put Vicks under your nose. It numbs your sense of smell.

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    1. Now I'm thinking about Silence Of The Lambs.

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  14. It's too bad rats don't cremate their dead. But then you'd have to call the fire department.

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    1. A simple ceremony with a proper outdoor grave would do nicely.

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  15. This is probably a terrible idea, but what if you plopped a hungry cat into your cold air return duct? :) You could check back with said cat in a day or so, hoping that he/she had found the dead rat and consumed it for dinner? Don't cats eat their prey? Or does it have to be prey that they, themselves, have chased after, tortured, and killed? Oh wait, perhaps at this point the dead rat isn't still fresh enough to interest a hungry cat.....In that case, I remember that the French were said to have invented all kinds of elaborate sauces to distract from less-than-fresh meat that they served. So, perhaps you should cook up a 5-gallon tub of, say, bechamel sauce (or hollandaise, if you can't get quality cheese) -- and then slowly pour your sauce into the return air duct. You could then lock the hungry cat in the ductwork for 24 hours, and see if the sauced dead rat appeals to the feline's finicky appetite. Well, I'm just thinking out loud on this one....

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    1. ...So if she does all this, she has not only the dead rat smell to contend with, but also rancid bechamel sauce AND potential dead cat smell as well. Hmmmm.... I like it!

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    2. Tater did hide out in the ceiling of the basement once. I still don't understand how she got in there. BTW I don't think cats like prey they didn't nab themselves, but I could be mistaken. In any case, if you offer Tater anything--anything, I say, tuna, chicken, treats, anything--other than Iaams Adult Healthy Cat Kibble, she thinks you're trying to poison her.

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