War of the Rats

Come dark, our house plays a Muzac all its own, an elevator-variety tune that’s less like Kenny G and more like the soundtrack to Tales from the Crypt. Some people hear voices, but in our house, we hear scratching. Of things that go bump in the night, we boast an uncounted population of scrawny-tailed, grey rats. Come daylight, we feature an extended family of bushy-tailed rats, otherwise known as squirrels. Daylight rats are annoying. The ones at night are downright frightening.

One night I woke to really large thumps, like a blunt object crashing into our wall. The blunt object turned out to be a tennis racket wielded by my husband Mike. He’d been successfully eliminating larger and larger rats over the course of a few nights when he must have stumbled on the big daddy. Daddy was too big for the trap and had so wrestled himself free, but not without injury. Leaking blood and heaving, this boss of the rat mafia that ruled our nights was stumbling down the hall in a dazed zigzag. Mike had heard the trap snap and gone to collect his kill. That’s when he ran into Boss Hog in the hall. What followed was a mad volley of rat, wall and racket. Mike won, euthanizing the big boy before he finished his trajectory towards our girls’ bedroom. And so I am redundant, but rats at night are downright frightening.

We are, though, blessed at our house with not one but two varieties of rat, and the annoying daytime rats are no less the pest. They make me just about lose my mind. Two years ago, squirrels chewed through the wood holding up the awning over the door that exits our pantry to the side yard. They chewed through the soffit and built a cozy home for themselves in the wall of our pantry. The scratching these rats made was like a squirrel’s version of waterboarding, driving me close to the brink of insanity. I used to bang on the wall with a dust pan and yell (I’m sure this is why my neighbors avoid eye contact with me). A squirrel would appear unperturbed and casually hop his way to the nearest tree branch where he’d wait me out before returning to his nest. My husband and a friend painstakingly disassembled the awning and its braces and rebuilt it with new lumber. Within two weeks, the squirrels had chewed through the new wood and were remaking their home in the wall and elsewhere. Because of these bushy tailed rats, we’ve replaced siding, blasted hideous heavy metal music in the attic to drive them out, sprayed their nest with pepper spray, and employed a neighbor’s pellet gun. We were desperate, and all such measures have been useless. And the squirrels’ maniacal torture techniques have worn me down; I don’t bother banging the wall or yelling anymore.

The rats have rallied against us. As of two o’clock this morning, Mike watched an unabashed little rat claw his oily body up the wall of the garage, across the rails of the garage door track and through a hole in the ceiling. Squirrels. Rats. It makes no difference anymore. We need hired mercenaries. We don’t have it in us to fight this one. We’re calling in the professionals. And then we’re moving (pleeeeease).