Pest Control

It’s been one year since we moved into this house, and we’ve really loved the upgrade. For the most part. But some aspects we could do without. We’ve been subjected to some uninvited guests. In this last year we’ve had worms, moles, ants, and now rats invade our home. We obviously need a NO VACANCY sign.

Once we realized that we had rodents in our attic, we knew we had to take immediate action. The next day we actually caught one in the spring loaded trap Colin placed by our food storage in the garage– one of the main attractions that brought the little buggers inside in the first place. With a huge, gaping hole in the wall to the attic and the dryer vent opening to the outside being wide enough for a chihuahua to squeeze through, it was like an open invitation to the critters.

Several more traps set with Slim Jim as bait yielded nothing as we heard another rat scurrying around in the attic for the next few nights. Four empty sticky traps later and we knew we had to use drastic measures.

Colin set poison out in the hole to the attic. Sure enough, the next night we heard silence up above. Great, except where did it go?


Poor Colin. Once again he put on his grubbiest clothes and headed up to the attic to search. Sprained ankle and all. He found nothing. And while we hoped that maybe the creature had run out to die in the field behind our house, we feared the worst.

Three days after it ate the poison I opened up my medicine cabinet and caught a whiff of something foul.

Dead rat. And it was somewhere in the wall.

Perhaps finding it and removing it would be as easy as pulling out the medicine cabinets.


Alas, not the case. All that unscrewing turned up empty.

Colin went up to the attic again and headed over to the section where our two bathrooms meet. He found a board that seemed to be covering the spot where the smell was generating. But he wasn’t positive. He considered prying it up to see.


And when he pulled back the panel, he found this:


(Just kidding. I happened to see this in a random catalog, addressed to a former tenant, that came to our house recently. It seemed all too relevant.)

And he didn’t pull back the panel, either. Seemed like a risky move that might not even prove successful.

After all that effort, we couldn’t locate the rat. And after calling around to many exterminator companies we learned that this is pretty typical. When a rat feels sick or hurt, it burrows itself into a tight, ridiculously unattainable hiding spot and then dies. Once it gets inside the wall that’s where it remains. A permanent fixture. No sledge hammer busting through the drywall is going to save this family from the stench because who knows where it could actually be located.

So we’re forced to wait it out. We’re on Day 11 of a possible 2 to 3 week decomposition process. Meanwhile, we get to enjoy daily wafts of “l’eau de dead rat” emanating from our bathrooms, mostly the kids’. I wish there were words strong enough to express how disgusting this odor reeks. It’s somewhere between sewer, rotten cheese, death, and that putrid smell you get when you pull up a plastic kiddie swimming pool that’s been sitting on the grass in the heat too long. Yummy. And I believe it might just be a little bit toxic.

Candles. Lots and lots of candles burning all day long. That’s what’s saving us from the majority of the stench. Should you (heaven forbid) ever face the challenge of enduring the smell of rotting rat carcass in your own home, take my advice and get yourself some strong scented candles. I think the constant flame helps burn up the noxious gas the rat is emitting. And now you know too much information.

We are surviving. It could be so much worse. It could be in between the bedrooms where we couldn’t as easily close off the area. We can handle 5 minute increments when we absolutely have to use the toilet. It could be summertime where the stench would be 10 times worse, although that might speed up the process a bit. This could have happened to us in Chicago, where leaving our bathroom windows open day and night would turn us into popsicles. And so, even though I’m a bit depressed that the normal scents of Thanksgiving and autumn have been tainted by the occasional whiff of decomposing rat, we’re holding our own.

Thank goodness for the head cold we’ve all been battling the last few weeks. At least it’s blocked some of the experience.

Hurry up and disintegrate, rat. I want to fully enjoy the scents of Christmastime.

6 thoughts on “Pest Control”

  1. That catalog picture is hilarious. Since you had already told me the story, I was so excited to scroll down and see that he decided to pry up the board and actually found something! Silly Bean…

  2. I love your stories. They make me laugh out loud every time. Or ooh and aw if that is more appropriate. Sounds like a good time to go on vacation to CO… 🙂

  3. Good thing for husbands who will crawl around and look for critters – I sure wouldn’t get up there and look around! Hopefully there’s not a rat’s nest up there – that smell doesn’t go away until the nest is gone… since the smell is recent though I’m sure it will go away soon. (never heard anyone express thanks for colds…) 🙂

  4. I was scrolling down reading and saw the edge of a picture, and kept thinking “she wouldn’t, right?” I’m glad you didn’t. That would have ruined my holiday, too. So sorry he’s ruining yours! I’m impressed with your “silver lining” perspective, though!

  5. oh no! I just got my potpourri simmering thingy that you plug in (like a mini crock pot) if you want to borrow it!?!?!?! Seriously!

  6. Jeannie, hang in there! We have had this happen several times, and this, too, shall pass, although it is NOT fun, and NOT pleasant. Come over to our house if it gets too unbearable!

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