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Thursday, July 19, 2018


My house is invaded by rats. I first saw one in my laundry room as it jumped off a shelf and ran behind the dryer. At first I thought it was my small tabby cat but then realized it was too small. Ever since I moved into my over a hundred year old house I worried a little about getting rats for some reason. Not much scares me not even a bear that I heard in my woods a few years ago, or bears I come across on my camping trips with my sisters.

The first rattlesnake I ever saw was on a hiking trail in Pennsylvania with my sister Elaine. It was a very, very long one and had a large swelling in its middle so apparently it had just had something to eat. Elaine and I walked up pretty close to it and then it slithered into the woods.

The next rattlesnake I saw was on a trail in Shenandoah National Park where we were backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. My sister and her son were ahead of me when I came `across Elaine sitting on a boulder. She said we couldn’t go on because there was a rattlesnake on the trail up ahead. It was a hot day and I was out of water and I wasn’t going to let the snake keep me from going to the next water source. So with my walking stick and my hiking shoes I stomped up close to it. They can’t hear, but they can feel the ground. It was shaking its rattling tail and I kept pounding the ground. Eventually, it slithered down the hill off the trail so we could move on.

The next day after I spied that small rat as I finished cleaning my bird cages and the cat’s litter box, I happened to notice something that looked like a gray rag near the cellar door. I reached down to pick it up and found out it was a dead rat. I quickly used an empty bread bag to pick it up and go outside to throw it in my garbage. It was then that I realized that my cat wasn’t over eating her food which is what I’d though because her dish was empty so often and she wanted more food three times a day. I also realized that’s why the bottom of the bag of cat food had small holes in it. I fed Brat Cat in the cellar way so Maggie, my collie wouldn’t eat her food. The next time I opened the cellar door, I saw a young rat run down the cellar steps.

I had been hearing sounds in my walls and I thought it might be a squirrel because once I had a squirrel who managed to get into my house before my son added on two rooms upstairs and all I had there was a small attic. I didn’t realize it was a squirrel until I found an acorn in my shoe and later an acorn under my pillow. I put out poison for the squirrel, too, much as I hated to do it, but at least he went off somewhere else to die.

My house is over a hundred years old. When I moved into it had a rather gross basement which only got worse as cracks in the floor appeared and muck seeps up when there’s been a lot of rain and spider webs everywhere. I used to work at keeping those swept down and the floor swept, too, until the cracks with stuff seeping through came in. It’s not so bad in the winter when the furnace is working, but we’ve had a lot of rain lately which has puddles on the floor, too.

The following day I bought a bag of rat poison and put it in a plastic container in the cellar way and moved the cat food dish upstairs for Brat Cat, or Pixie as my daughter Mary wants her called because she has a pixie face.

My son and daughter Sue wanted me to hire a rat exterminator. Sue’s husband talked to two farmers he works with and they said a black snake would be the best way to get rid of them. Well, I’m not afraid of snakes but I had no idea where to find a black snake. Besides after one finished eating all the rats what would I feed the black snake?

My daughter Sue called her brother and he gave her the name and number of a guy who called me the next day and we set up a time later that evening. Bill showed up about supper time and he told me the ivy around the bottom of my house was something that would bring rats. I wasn’t that sure of that because I’ve had ivy around most of my foundation for years and I’ve never had rats in my house before although I’ve seen some in my barn once in a while.
The north side of my house with lots of hydranges

I walked around the outside of my house with Bill as he looked it over and pointed out places where they might be getting in. After I went back in he went around the foundation and put down some kind of poison slabs of something I didn’t see what they looked like. Then he came in and we went down in the cellar. He insisted going first so if I slipped on the steps I’d fall into him. He’s a very nice guy. I showed him the other room down there where there’s a wall going part way up and it has dry lumpy soil down there. He told me that’s where they are living. He put some kind of rat poison down there, too, and when we got upstairs, he put some in places in the laundry room a little back beside the washing machine where the cat and dog won’t get it. He also mentioned that the rats are coming for the bird seed thrown out by my African ring-necked doves and my canary, Pavarotti, although they rarely throw any seeds out of their cages.

He told me if it started to smell pretty bad with the rats dying down there, to call him and he’d come to pick them up. He said I shouldn’t do it without rubber gloves because they carry diseases.  

So after I paid him, I was feeling pretty good about the fact that soon all the rats would be gone although that evening as I was sitting in my nesting chair in the living room listening to music on my CD player and reading, I could hear some rustling in the wall between a book case and my piano. I figured it was one young rat that hadn’t yet eaten the poison.

The next morning I was awakened at 5:00 a.m. by lots of rattling around in my walls and under my bedroom floor above my library ceiling. Bill had asked for a large towel to put under the cellar door on both sides of it, and I gave him one that I use to wipe down Maggie if she’s been out in the rain. He said they can get through very small cracks because they can somehow disconnect their jaws and once they slip their heads through the body comes through.

Brat Cat/Pixie

I knew I had some mice because Brat Cat (Pixie) occasionally left a baby mouse in the living room in the night for me to find. There was never any part of it that she ate or any blood, so I picked it up with a paper towel and threw it into the garbage wastebasket under the sink.

I looked up rats in one of my nature books and out of the six rats shown, I figured my rats are Norway rats. I’m just hoping they all die soon even if they stink, although because I have sinus problems and can’t smell much anyways, I’ll just be glad they’re dead. Even if they smell eventually it will go away.

Two of my three chickens in their run.

The next day I heard no sounds of rats in the walls at all. Maybe they are all dead now.
I did find a large dead rat in the chicken stall in the barn. Bill had put some of the rat poison in the barn, too, in a stall full of junk where the barn cats can’t go and behind the bales of hay in a stall where I keep hay for my ponies. I haven’t found any more dead ones in the barn since. I’d never seen more than one rat other than one that was in the chicken stall and immediately ran back to the hole it came in through when I went in to gather eggs.

I downloaded pictures of rattlesnakes but the blogger wouldn't accept them.
Have you ever had rats in your house?
What about a barn or garage?


Annette said...

Oh, my! No, I've never had rats in my house. Our barn's another matter, although I don't remember ever seeing them. Possums and snakes in the barn, yes. Mice? Oh heavens yes. Also mice in my basement and even IN MY CAR. But in the house? I'm afraid I'd have to move!

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Rats in the house? Never, though in Atlanta I used to see them on the utility lines in our neighborhood. My daughter had rats in her house in New Orleans. They chewed their way through the pantry door.

Field mice are a fact of life. And don't get me started on birds trapped in the garage.

May you have a rodent-free rest of the summer!

Gloria Alden said...

Annette, I feel the same way, but they seem to be gone now. Like you I had mice in my basement and I only knew that because my cats would catch them. I have or had them in my car, too, because they chewed some of the wires. I found that when I took my car to my mechanic when there were some problems. I've never seen any snakes in my barn, but then most of the barn floor is cement except for the two stalls where my ponies stay nights in the winter. Those are wooden.

Margaret, I've lived here for almost thirty years and never had them before. Until recently it was the first time I saw them upstairs on my main floor so I had no idea I had them. I don't have an attached garage and I keep my car in an attached lean to that is attached to my barn. My garage is filled with stuff partly my one daughters after she moved to California as well as my camping stuff and other things I'm saving for some reason or other. It's out near my barn and the doors are almost never opened.

Liz Milliron said...

No rats, but we've had mice a couple times.

judyalter said...

I've had rat infestations a couple of times--we live less than a mile from a large zoo, and I think that's the source. Hate hearing them in the roof but am a bit afraid of putting the poison out like you did. WE finally used an exterminator who brings some kind of black boxes with poison--rats get it but dogs and cats can'tget near it. Haven't seen any more rats, and no bad smells. I once had a pretty good number of guests for brunch and realized the night before that something had died in the dining room wall. Nothing I could do except ignore it and hope my guests would too.

Kait said...

After Hurricane Irma palm rats were an epidemic on the West Coast of Florida. They're not much larger than big mice, but rats still. We, like most folks with roof damage, had them in the attic. When we returned after the storm, Truly Nolen made short work of them. Fortunately, they never got into the living quarters.

Gloria Alden said...

Liz mice don't bother me as much since I have a cat who catches and kills them without eating them. She just leaves the dead bodies where I can see them.

Judy, I heard them in my walls before I saw them. I was feeding my cat at the top of the cellar steps with the door only slightly open so she could get in, but my collie, Maggie couldn't. The exterminator put the poison in the basement and in a few places where my cat and dog couldn't reach them. It sounds like he used the same kind of poison as your exterminator did. My son told me that they're the only ones who can buy it because they are an exterminator.

Kait, you were lucky about that. Only one or two made it into my living quarters. I don't count my basement as a living quarter although I do have to go down there some times because of the electric fuse box when something goes off, or to change the furnace filter in the winter. I used to keep the cat's litter box down there, but don't anymore. I keep it under the large African Ring Necks' bird cage in my laundry room near my canary, Pavarotti's cage.

KM Rockwood said...

Oh, gross.

My younger, very imaginative daughter told us about the "giant mouse" she saw leaving her sister's room (We later discovered that her sister had lots of left over Halloween candy in her room) We assumed it was an exaggeration until one night I saw the "giant mouse." It was a rat!

We figured out it was coming up through some spaces around the plumbing. We set a trap & caught it. That was the only time we know of that we had a rat.

Once we found a copperhead in the basement. That had to go. And we did have a black snake living down there, but we left it alone. Eventually it left of its own accord.

Gloria Alden said...

KM, the rat exterminator said that they go up the plumbing in houses, too. I've not seen copperheads or black snakes around my place, although I know they could be in the area. Mostly it's just garter snakes or milk snakes both totally safe snakes to have around the place. Once when I was away on vacation, my daughter Sue and her daughter as well as her daughter's friend came to check on my place and found a garter snake or milk snake in my kitchen and totally freaked out. Later I found it in the basement and picked it up and took it outside. I'd much rather have snakes in the house unless they're poisonous than rats. When I lived in the house before I moved to this one, my then husband saw a snake in the basement when he went down to take a shower. It freaked him out even though it was only a garter snake so I caught it and took it outside. I won't harm them because they are good for catching insects, etc.