the story of a rat

I'll spare you the visual, but I have a little story that goes something like this...

But first, the backstory. The backstory begins, as they often do, with the stories of our friends and how they purchased their homes in this coveted Austin neighborhood. It seems that everyone has a story about how they "got lucky" purchasing a home from a hoarder or a house where the roof was caving in on itself. Our story is that we "got lucky" by purchasing a rat-infested home (or maybe it's more accurate to say the only home in our price range in this neighborhood was rat-infested). To be clear: we knew there was a rat "problem" when we purchased the home, and "rodent exclusion" was on our list of "things to do" before we inhabited the house. I know I'm using a lot of air quotes here, but bear with me if you want to hear a semi-decent story.

Long story short: the "rat guys" came in; they did their thing; they left us with a sealed-up rat-free home...or did they? It rained (a lot) last week, and apparently rodents--at least the kind that live in your attic and not the sewer--seek shelter in the the rain. Last Friday night I heard the sounds of a "friend" playing around in the kitchen while I was quietly reading on the sofa. We still don't have television, so there was no white noise in the background to drown out the noise of, say, a rat messing around in your kitchen. On Saturday morning I called our local pest control experts (we have them on retainer) to let them know I had seen "evidence" of rodent activity. If you'd like to know, my evidence consisted of droppings and a paper bag that had clearly been chewed through by our unwanted guest. The earliest they--Pest Control--could come to our house was Tuesday because (guess what?) they got backed-up due to the rain (and presumably all the critters seeking shelter inside).

And then it was Saturday night. The girls went to bed as per usual (Catcher was in Houston for spring break) and I was, once again, reading on the sofa alone. I heard the rat in the kitchen; imagined him cooking up a cocktail of paper bags and chia seeds (it turns out he likes those) for himself. I went to bed uneasy yet not terrified because 1) there was a box of Cheerios in the kitchen if he got tired of chia seeds and 2) I've dealt with rodents before--I lived in New York City.

And then it was 1:30 in the morning. I don't know if I woke up because I heard something in my bedroom or I woke up and then I heard something in my bedroom. It turns out that waking up at 1:30 in the morning and discovering a rat beside your bed will kick you into terrified mode pretty quickly. I shined my iPhone flashlight--because I sleep with my phone in the bed when Alex is away--in the direction of the noise that awoke me or I heard when I awoke just in time to see the fat mother (you know what) scurry out of the bedroom into the living room under the piano. I couldn't sleep for the rest of the night. When daylight finally broke, to my great relief, I felt as if there was once again a newborn in our home dictating my sleeping patterns--I was tired and frazzled.

Fast forward two days. Alex came home; I told him the story about the asshole rat who came into our room in the middle of the night (I think he half-believed me), and we set a good old-fashioned snap trap with a morsel crouton wrapped in salmon wrapped in brie. The rat took the bait. The trap did not snap.

At this point I abandoned my humanitarian side that feels cruelty toward animals, and I got inside the mind of the rat. I defaulted to a glue trap. My rodent endeavors from my days in NYC had taught me that, when in doubt, go with the glue. There are many negatives to this type of trap, but desperate times call for desperate measures. The end of the story is, of course, we caught the rat. (At least we caught this rat...the jury is still out as to whether or not there are additional rats roaming the grounds.)

The long and short of it is this: I put the (glue) trap in a position where I know it would not fail. The rat had gained confidence over the previous nights and carelessly went for a crouton in a paper bag on the floor that had been surrounded by glue traps. I heard the thrashing of the rat body on the glue trap (too graphic?) in the morning around 5:45 and knew we had caught the sucker. Because Alex missed the rat-by-the-bed incident, I elected him disposer of the rat that had its face and half its body affixed to the trap.

It may not be a humane story, but it's our story about that time we bought a rat-infested home in Hyde Park. Sometimes in life one has to make sacrifices.

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