|Rat hunting on a Saturday morning. That's normal, right?|
We had heard that the city we live in was having a problem with rats, and that we needed to take the proper precautions. We bought new steel trash cans with good lids and made sure to keep Richards "bathroom" clean. (Richard is our dog). Over the summer, there were a handful of times that I would see a rat in my yard on garbage night, and while I thought it really creepy, I never imagined that they would actually get in our house. Still, we probably should have taken more precautions then, especially making sure that we had no holes in our roof or chimney, but we didn't. Our mistake.
Another mistake we made was to have a wood porch, but we just didn't think of it. Eventually we had planned to pour a new cement porch, but then we thought about moving and decided that it wasn't worth the expense, and so we didn't. We probably should have. Wood porches and decks attract rats.
So anyways, fast forward to about 3 weeks ago. Barry and I were laying down to go to bed. The house was quiet and all of a sudden we heard a rhythmic scratching sound in our bedroom. Richard has a paw that he likes to lick rhythmically and if he does it at the right spot in the house, it makes a scratching sound. I had heard this scratching sound a few other times that week and always assumed it was Richard and when I said "Richard stop" the sound stopped. This night however, when I said "Richard stop!", Richard came trotting into the bedroom from the living room. Barry said outloud "That wasn't Richard."
He immediately got up and went downstairs. I heard him from the basement say something, that isn't particularly nice, followed by "there's a rat down here!" He instructed me to go outside. He was going to try to scare the rat out of the basement and wanted to make sure he got out. The rat was standing in a spot by where the electrical wire for the airconditioning unit was coming in and the hole was just the size of a quarter-all they need to get in. (if you live in Warren or St. Clair Shores, check your houses). Instead of scaring the rat out, I heard Barry shout and then Barry came upstairs telling me that the rat bolted somewhere in the basement and he couldn't see where he was.
I don't remember exactly how we got back to sleep that night, but it was the first night of many with interrupted sleep. The next night, we had our niece's pellet gun in tow.
And the next night.
And the next night.
But the little rat is a very good hider. Several times we heard scratching below our bed, only to go downstairs and look everywhere only to find nothing.
We set up trap after trap after trap. Most of them were ignored, but the glue traps we set up got visibly moved out of their way, or they were very smart and loaded them up with insulation so that the trap wouldn't be a threat to them. Seriously, I had no idea rats were so smart. Every morning we woke up feeling defeated and every night we lost sleep. I finally just took to sleeping on the couch so that i couldn't hear him. They hadn't tried to come on the main level of the house. I am assuming because of Richard. But maybe not. It doesn't really matter. it just matters that he hadn't, and we wanted to make sure that he didn't.
We were fed up. We decided to take away any hiding spots the rat might have, so we emptied the entire contents of our basement out and put it in our garage and did some major cleaning up. Also that day, while I was away at my moms house, Barry pulled apart the front porch and made sport of rat hunting. He saw that they had burrowed under there and he took the hose and collapsed their little underground network, causing seven of them to rise up out of the muck. Barry shot them all with a pellet gun (very rewarding, btw)
We had hoped that that would be the end of it, but that night, the scratching was worse than ever. You can imagine how defeating that feels.
So. We decided to bring in Orkin. We weren't entirely sure what Orkin would do that we hadn't done, but we hoped maybe he would poison them somehow that we hadn't thought of. We had put out poison pellets, but the rats weren't interested in adding that to their diets. I heard there was a powder that rats breathe in that kills them. (there is, but it turns out that they never use it around kids or dogs because it is that deadly that you need to wear a respirator around it or you could end up dead)
The Orkin man walked around the property and found a few holes that he though were big enough to get in, and he set traps up all over the basement where we had heard him. He set up traditional traps and glue traps. Pretty much the same stuff we set up, only he set up a LOT more of them. He said it might take a a couple weeks to be able to trap them, as rats will not eat off of trap unless they are starving and have no other food source, and given the fact that he has ignored all of traps and poisons thus far, he must have another food source somewhere. A rats food source can even be dog poop, and while we religiously every single day clean up after Richard, we have neighbors that have a couple of dogs, and we can't speak for how often they clean up.
He did say, that he didn't think they were actually nesting in our house, because he didn't see any of the normal signs. That was relieving.
Anyhow, long story short, it appears that they are gone. We did hear scratching for a couple nights, and I saw one outside in the backyard 2 nights ago, but we haven't heard anything in 3 nights, after we patched one last hole that we found near our chimney. I think they are finally gone and I will be able to sleep easy once more. It may take a while as every sound you hear at night suddenly becomes suspect. I wonder how long that will last.
Anyhow, the rats are gone! We can get back to our regularly scheduled basement finishing.