Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Loot the Great White

Here's a true story that will send you cleaning and checking in dark places.
We came home from a long Christmas break, eager to be home after a tiring eleven-hour drive.
After putting away a few items in the kitchen, I saw that my small white cupboard had doors that were half-way open and a few items spilled onto the floor.
The droppings spelled it out clearly, we had a hungry rodent who seemed to have a taste for popping corn. So I quickly cleaned up the mess and checked to see if other foods on the upper shelves has been disturbed. The cheese and crackers were surprisely untouched.
Saturday brought me to Walmart and then the grocery store. We discussed giving our cat, Nico a chance to hunt down the invaders as soon as we brought him home from our friend's house. That was presuming he was still talking to us as we had abandoned him to another family for three whole weeks.
The only problem with that plan is that Nico is not permitted to roam the house at night. He is confined to the basement, where we hoped the rodents might be hiding out.
Who knows how the next event happened, but somehow my husband forgot to take the emptied trash bag to the basement. So there it sat overnight, a shining beacon to whoever had stolen the popcorn in the previous days. In the morning, there was a good size hole ripped in the bag and a few lonely pieces of food strewn around the garbage can. We quickly cleaned up and headed off to a new church(another story in of itself) and returned home to eat an early lunch.
After procrastinating over a trip to the hardware store to pick-up the items for Plan B which consisted of mousetraps, my husband who is forever slick at these maneuvers, suggested I pick them up since I had a few other errands to do.
So off I went, hitting the library and then the grocery store. I picked up a package of traps and headed home to have my husband labor over setting them to net ourselves some overzealous mice.
As I worked to unpack the groceries and enjoy a snack, I noticed Nico staring intently at the bottom vent of the refrigerator. BINGO, I thought!
I quietly called for my husband to come. I pointed towards the fridge and told him to listen.
Sure enough, we heard a loud scratching/rustling sound. The large flashlight was brought out and the search underneath the fridge began. As the light shone around the floor exposing wires and refrigerator parts, we saw food debris and knew we had found the hideout. What we didn't expect to see was this:
A white rat with dark eyes and a long pink tail. My husband and I both jumped back from our crouched position, looking at each other in surprised wonder.
A rat! What on earth? How did it get in? It must belong to somebody.
We checked again, yep, it wasn't a mouse. Way too big, way too much tail, and way too big turds.
The cat crouched low, watching and sniffing. What to do?
Our lowly mice traps were way too small. And being newbies to the whole rat-in-the-house thing, we decided to call the property manager. After calling into the rental hotline, we waited for the dispatcher to call the local manager. Checking with the flashlight. Yes, it was still munching on something tasty and unidentifable from our kitchen.
As the property manager called, I tried to keep calm as I told him what we had found and what he could do about it tonight.
He promised to find someone to come. But as these events often unfold, he couldn't get the Pest Control company to answer their after-hours phone. He questioned me again about the veracity of my rat report. Perhaps it was a field mouse, he suggested. I told him it was definitely not a mouse and that it was probably someone's pet at one point. He backed down on his mouse assertion.
So there it was, we were stuck with this rat for another night.
We closed up the small white cupboard with what else, but duct tape and emptied the trash can and left it bone dry. We put all food items on the counter and put the cat in the basement. We then headed upstairs and tightly shut our doors against a possible roaming rat.
As we checked the kitchen in the morning, we noticed the duct tape was undisturbed and the rat was resting contentedly with eyes half closed.
By mid-morning, I had had no phone calls from anyone, so I left a message for the property guy to call me about the Pest Control's whereabouts.
After not hearing from him, I called the local office number and spoke to a woman who seemed incredulous that I had a rat under my fridge. That's when I began to shake my head. She put a call through to the property manager who called me right back and began to assure me that indeed the pest guy had been to Unit 4(that's our house number) and had retrieved the rat.
Still shaking my head, I began, "Sir, I can assure you that no one has called or been to my house and that the rat is still under my refrigerator." Puzzled by this declaration, the manager promised to look into the matter.
A few minutes later, the phone rang. It was the property manager. "I just spoke with the guy, and he has not been to your house. He expects to be there between twelve and noon." Huh??
He continued, "I'm not sure why he said he was there, but he was not there yet." Yeah, isn't that what I told you??! Thanks for the confirmation. I was starting to doubt myself. Good grief, who were these people? "He'll be there for sure between twleve and noon", he repeated. Right, between twelve and noon. Is this guy for real? Well, considering he had a French accent, I just let it go. Twelve and noon. My head still shaking, I hung up and checked the clock. Great, only another hour to go with this uninvited guest.
Promptly between twelve and noon there was a welcome knock on our door. A man carrying a toolbox. I didn't even check for his id. He came down the stairs after dutifully removing his work boots and came into the kitchen.
He aksed me if I wanted him to set a trap or set out poison. After he explained that it would take a while for the poison to work and that he could die anywhere in the house, I opted for the trap. So he asked for peanut butter and proceeded to spread the bait and set the trap.
He placed it on the floor next to the fridge alongside the counter.
We barricaded the otherside of the fridge with flat boxes to only give the rat only one route to the trap.
He left and said that it would probably go off tonight.
But peanut butter has a stronge smell, even Nico wanted to check it out. So I further barricaded the trap with large juice bottles to keep Nico out and the rat in. So with that deed done, I headed upstairs to finish unpacking and fold laundry. Several hours of checking and checking yielded no rat, but as the afternoon grew late, my son was playing downstairs while I swept our bedroom. Suddenly I heard him yelling, "The rat is out, the rat is out." I flew down the steps hoping it wasn't running around the kitchen or house. Following my son's pointing finger, I peeked. There was the rat, dead as a doornail, chin resting on the glob of peanuttery bait.
Yep, the rat came out. But thankfully he didn't get far. The trap has done it's work. And there was no mess.
I set my son up with a movie and put the cat in the basement, ignoring his meowing howls of protest.
I took one last picture and set the whole trap outside to await my husband's return.

Then I hauled the refrigerator out from the wall and started cleaning. I won't get into the details, but it was disgusting. Thankfully this morning was garbage day, so out he went last night in his own little body bag.
We're keeping the purchased, yet unused mouse traps. I'm not hoping to use them, but it's wise to be prepared. And in the words of my mother-in-law aftering hearing about the rat and the delayed pest control guy, "It's amazing what you can get used to."
Yes, indeed even Loot the Great White.


  1. You had me hanging on to the edge of my seat and I already knew most of the story:-)

  2. That's good entertainment. Not to mention, cheap.
    Of course, it may have had nothing to do with the story and all to do with the fact that your feet dangle from the chair.

  3. Some chairs...yes; this particular chair...no!

  4. In hindsight...just suppose Loot, the Great White was another Stuart Little????? Think of what Seth might be missing in way of a little brother:-)


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