06 September 2019

The Great Rat Invasion of 2019

Cyrus and I were hanging out at my parents' home, waiting for Angel to get out of work and come pick everyone up to go out to dinner. I was helping my mom edit a document for work when we were interrupted by the sound of a screaming 12 year old.

Sarah ran into the living room and announced, "There was a rat in the bathroom! It was on the counter, but when I walked in, it ran away and ran into the drain."

Mom went to investigate the bathroom situation and closed the open drain cover, but we all took the news rather calmly and somewhat skeptically. Part of this is because unusual animal encounters of a close kind are hardly rare where we live (in fact, this is a major theme of my book, The Cactus Who Craved a Hamburger, in which insects and various tropical creatures happily share a home with the human residents. Based on a true story.) In addition, for some reason, probably entirely unjustified, my family tends to treat Sarah's reports of animal encounters rather lightly. Everyone in the family scoffed when she reported seeing a monkey on the balcony outside the apartment a year ago. "Monkeys have never actually climbed onto our balcony!" we said confidently. Not long afterwards, my parents' home was ransacked by a wayward monkey who came in through the balcony doors, knocked over a computer monitor, destroyed a jewelry box, and committed a few other unmentionable desecrations. My dad went out and put up chicken wire as a monkey-deterrent measure later that day.

Maybe after this we'll start listening to Sarah.

{Clearly not a rat, but I have no pictures of the actual adventure, so I thought I'd include one of another critter spotted at the park just outside our apartment complex.}

Mom decided to boil a kettle of water to dump down the drain to make it seem like an unappealing habitat for any potential rats. I questioned Sarah as to whether it was a rat or merely a mouse. MaryGrace threw some drain-cleaning tablets down the drain when she saw Mom dumping the first kettle of boiling water down it--somehow she'd missed the ruckus entirely and thought the drain needed to be unclogged. We figured some toxic drain-cleaning chemicals probably wouldn't hurt the cause of discouraging rats from living in the drain, and hey, now it would be extra cleared-out. Cyrus watched the goings-on with great interest. 

Mom and I finished up our editing project and Angel arrived, ready to head out. We joked that he'd missed all the excitement with the possible rat sighting in the bathroom, and Mom remembered that she'd boiled a second kettle of water to dump down the drain, just to be a little extra on the safe side.

She brought the kettle to the bathroom while all of us waited, ready to go, in the living room. As soon as she began pouring the water into the drain, a rat jumped out of the drain, ran out of the bathroom and into Mom's bedroom. Mom screamed, ran, and jumped onto the bed. All of the little girls screamed and ran to the opposite side of the apartment. Pregnant me does not move very quickly and opted to stay on the couch, but I overhead the 8-year-old asking the 12-year-old as they ran away, "Are rats dangerous?"

The answer came, "Not exactly dangerous, but they're dirty, and you can catch diseases if they bite you."

Angel had acted quickly, slamming the door of the bedroom, trapping Mom and the rat in the room together, but making sure that the rat couldn't get into any other part of the house. He yelled to mom that he'd find something to use to help catch or kill the rat, and returned with a broom, a dustpan, and a bag. He'd looked for a box (Angel has a great record of being able to trap bats in boxes) but there wasn't one handy, and so he quickly slipped into the room with the tools to figure out what to do about the rat.

I was still on the couch, and my sisters and Cyrus were still as far from the rat as it was possible to get while remaining in the house.

Once Angel arrived in the bedroom to assist with rat capture, Mom was able to more thoroughly investigate the under-the-bed region that the rat had escaped to. To their great relief (and, somewhat, to their confusion), the rat had keeled over and was lying still. They weren't sure if it was dead, in shock, or temporarily unconscious...but they weren't taking any chances. Angel quickly swept it up and came out to the living room, planning to dispose of it by dumping it into the field outside the balcony. 

But the balcony door was locked! Immediately, panicked shouting for the keys began as everyone stared at the rat in the dustpan, waiting to see if it might show signs of life at any moment. It seemed an eternity before the keys were found, the balcony door unlocked, and Angel ran out to dump the rat off the balcony into the long grass where it'll never shock anyone again.

And then we re-locked the balcony, placed a rock over the drain cover to discourage any other enterprising rats from breaking in, and headed out to dinner.

As we walked to the car, I head the 8-year-old saying, "I think you can get diabetes from a rat bite."
And Angel laughing, "No, that's not how diabetes works at all."


May your weekends be rat-free and may you have productive discussions on the types of diseases that can be acquired from animal bites!

P.S. No, we are not at all sure how a rat can rocket himself out of a drain and end up on the other side of the adjoining room either dead or unconscious. Potential theory is that he may have been scalded to death by the precise timing at which Mom had suddenly remembered to use the second pot of water she'd boiled, and the rat just happened to be venturing his way back in again at that moment. Maybe? Who knows. We're not expert rat-catchers, just accidental rat-killers. Maybe. We're not even sure if it was dead. 

P.P.S. If you've read The Cactus Who Craves a Hamburger, do you remember what the rat's name was? If you don't, go back and have a peek at the story. Clearly, I tend to use my favorite names again and again. ;)
Kristina said...

Yikes! What a story. I'm glad you were able to get it out quickly enough. I guess the boiling water and chemicals did it in, but took a little bit. We've had rats in our yard and one turned up dead in our garden. But none in the house, thankfully.

Anonymous said...

What drama!

I'm sure it was scary but it such makes for a great story.


AnneMarie said...

Eek! I would be TERRIFIED! This makes for a fantastic story, though!