Monday, December 31, 2007

The Rats in the Walls

Rats are part of city life, of course. We come home from the bar at 2:30 am and they scurry across the road. One time we were with friends and we watched one flee and jump up inside the undercarriage of Cha's car.

But now we have rats in our ceiling, between the roof and the drywall of the master bedroom. At least I presume they're rats, because squirrels aren't nocturnal, and pigeons coo. They wake me at night with their scrabbling around, those little claws scraping the sheetrock. Occasionally they'll gnaw on something and make a more significant sound. I suppose they're gnawing joists. I've heard two at one time, but of course there might be more than that. Cha sleeps through it, though she was up late enough the other evening to hear them for the first time, and she made a perfectly understandable scrunched-up face.

We've not had any mice in the house, and there's no evidence of rats in the basement or inside the living areas of the house at all, but the idea of rats inside the ceiling makes me uncomfortable. Sometimes I fall back asleep after they waken me with their mysterious to-and-fro. Then they'll quiet down and I dream about them. Last night my pillow was sliding down the bed frame and making a clicking sound. In my dream I thought this was a rat coming through the wall and into the pillow, and I awoke terrified. Of course the walls are brick with drywall over top from the roof to the cellar, so it's impossible for anything to travel inside the walls. There are, however, walls around the stairwell which would allow access to the ceilings in the first and second floors.

I can find no access point around the foundation, so these rats are coming in from the roof, or perhaps from one of the neighbor's houses. It's possible they're climbing down what used to be a chimney for an old coal-burning forced-air system. I don't see any other holes in the roof. I don't want to use poison and have dead creatures rotting inside the roof. I went through that at my parents' old farm house in Red Lion, PA. The house backed up to a hill which over the years via erosion had come to touch the eaves at the back of an addition. Through this contact snakes moved into the ceiling of the first floor; we were unaware of this, despite the occasional appearance of a five-foot black snake in the living room or kitchen, until a plumber took down part of the kitchen ceiling and found a dozen twisting serpents entwined around the pipes.

Needless to say he was off his step-ladder rather quickly.

Only then did I notice the stealthy sound of snakes slithering above the plaster ceilings. My parents had the hill dug back from the addition and the eaves sealed, and within a week the entire house stunk to high heaven as dozens of snakes decayed inside the ceilings and walls. I'd rather not have dead rats do the same here. I also don't want to take down the ceiling and trap them. So I'll have to find their route and block it off at a time when they're not inside, if possible, which means getting a pro in, and paying money for it. My experience with pest control companies--all of it commercial experience--doesn't give me confidence in their ability to solve this problem. But I don't want a colony building nests above my bedroom, with the inevitable eventual gnawed access holes through the walls, so professionials it shall be.

In the meantime, we live an HPL tale, presumably without the subterranean antediluvian shrines to Yog-Sothoth.

And--speaking of Yog-Sothoth:

And Cthulu:


Silenus said...

It's not good that they're in the car. A friend of mine had his breaks eaten away but rats in the JHU parking lot.

While they are gross, I admire Ratus Norwegius. They just keep eating, multiplying and moving forward. When one dies they don't stop to mourn the loss. The east coast used to be filled with Ratus Ratus, a smaller cousin of Ratus Norwegius. Ratus Ratus got run out of town by the larger rat. Fortuneatly for us, Ratus Norwegius lives outside (usually). I think they'll outlive our species.

Nyarlathotep said...

Them Viking rats is tough. Ran off those effete, latte-swilling liberal east-coast ratus ratus bastards with no trouble.

John Vondracek said...

sorry to say, but I think there was no way around this problem... had them in Brooklyn for a while... actually, mice.. but still...

when we lived downtown by the WTC alicia annd I would hear mice scratching away within the walls or floor... but come to find OUT, it was actually WIND shifting and settling... but MAN did we think it was mice... for over a MONTH!!!! we even were furious at Chalupa for not investigating "them" and sleeping right through it... ha ha ha... she must have known all along!!!

in our new digs, we had one hole in our floor that we fixed because we thought we heard a mouse... never saw it (or evidence of it) but hearing the tap tap tapping was enough to convice us to fix it! no problems since, though....

rats are rough to get rig of, though... I'd bet ANY amount of money that they are a problem NOW since your next door neighbor house was completely gutted for lead... major construction/demolition ALWAYS brings them out (especially the BIG ones!!!!)


:) jv

ellen cherry said...

in my other house, which was old, maybe 100 years in the Overlea area, we had squirrels in between the floors and they, like humans, would fight and mate and move around and chew things. i had a confrontation with one on a power wire once. i'm sure i looked ridiculous screaming at it and (stupidly) shaking the power line to get it off. it deftly fell 40 feet to the ground on its back, rolled over and scurried to its daytime digs, only to return that night through a hole in the roof i was never able to find.

good luck. and happy new year to you both!


fernie said...

The snakes weren't an issue until I sealed them into the roof of the studio and then they couldn't get out and died there. I'll take a few days of stink knowing they're dead than having the live rodent running around. Put a plate of D-Con on the roof in a dry area and see if that helps. Lots of rat poison available so go for it!

Casey said...

Creepy gross rats. Don't have 'em, don't want 'em.

Daniel Bouchard said...

"the idea of rats inside the ceiling makes me uncomfortable."

You are a master of the understatement.