There was one stretch of time living next to the nudies that was worse than any other. I still get tense thinking back to their second–and ultimately final–fall/winter living nearby.
A neighbor was talking about them one day and said that their house had a really strange smell. She said it wasn’t like pot or anything she could put her finger on, but a strange type of smoke. I discovered the smell after they had their doors and windows wide open for a couple of weeks in the fall. It was mind-boggling to think that a home could have such a strong smell that it could permeate the open air for weeks.
Every time I would go outside, I could smell it. To me, it smelled like a combination of cinnamon apple potpourri, smoke, and Lysol. I looked over there one day and with the doors and windows open, could see all of the kitchen cabinets and drawers wide open. I couldn’t help but wonder what in the world was going on over there with everything wide open as it was getting too cold to leave everything open like that–day and night. Who wouldn’t close their cabinets and drawers?
I eventually discovered why–rats! Around that same time, another neighbor had moved out to live with a boyfriend and had basically abandoned her home, leaving the yard unkempt and food to rot. There are fences that separate the yards and plenty of huge live oak tress that are at least a hundred years old. Add two neighbors that haven’t mowed a yard in over a year, fences, huge oak trees, old homes that are over a century old without insulation, and living in a city by the river, it is inevitable that at some point, rats are going to be a part of life.
One weekend, we were working on our home and the man of the house from next-door had put on some clothes and was outside with a new weed whacker that he had bought. They had lived there over a year and never mowed the lawn once. He looked like he was about to pass out, so I walked over with a cold bottle of water. I felt badly for him. As I’m talking with him, I just happened to look down, and there’s a huge dead rat at my feet with flies swarming. I know he had to have seen my reaction as I just about screamed. He didn’t bat an eye or say anything. I chit-chatted for a couple of minutes and then went back home.
Shortly after that, I was in the kitchen one night and heard chewing. I couldn’t find where it was coming from as it would stop when I got closer. Eventually, I saw something move and knew what it was–a tiny rat. We immediately went to the store and bought several traditional traps and put peanut butter and cheese to try to catch the little bugger. No luck.
A couple of weeks later, I was asleep and woke up to hear gnawing–in my bedroom wall. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t sleep for weeks. After one sleepless night, I looked out and saw rats running up and around their down spouts. Just how heavily can it be infested if the rats create a makeshift playground?
In the cupboard, I noticed some shavings from styrofoam cups that I kept for the construction workers to use. I encouraged–all right, demanded–that my husband throw those away. He kept saying, “I don’t want to touch it.” I kept saying, “Grab it.” Well, he finally grabs the cups and out falls two small rats. We both screamed at the top of our lungs. Our child comes running in wondering what happened after hearing “Grab it!” and “No, I don’t want to touch it” several times before blood curdling screams.
We took everything out of the cupboard and discovered that momma rat loves–I mean LOVES–Butterfinger candy bars that I bought for Halloween. We threw away everything and disinfected everything before heading to the only store open at that time to buy every trap available since the traditional ones didn’t work. It was late and the parking lot was pitch black. I’m driving to get a parking space and out of nowhere there’s a swamp creature looking man limping and scurrying in my head lights. It was going from bad to worse.
We bought close to a thousand of these sticky glue traps. I lined every single baseboard and threshold with these sticky traps. Forgetting about the thousand traps, we frequently stepped on those, ruining many socks. If I heard, “Oh, man,” I knew I had captured a human. If I heard high-pitched squealing, that meant another one of our neighbor’s guests evicted.
In short order, we had captured about a dozen of the little pests. I bought a zapper that is essentially an electric chair for rodents. It has a plastic mouse that was an optional purchase that has eyes that will light up red if it is triggered. That allows one to put it up in an attic. I considered buying an electronic sound machine to repel the rodents, but I didn’t know if it would disturb my bunny. In the end, though, the glue traps worked like a charm, you just need to buy about a thousand traps.
We skipped Butterfingers this past Halloween. I hope the trick-or-treaters enjoyed the MilkyWays.