Monday, April 27, 2009


Justin came up from the kitchen the other night, visibly distressed.

"What is it?" I asked.

"I think, uhh...I think I saw something. Like an animal. In the kitchen. It ran into the pantry."

Apparently, he was standing at the sink washing a dish when he saw a flash of fur out of the corner of his eye. Whatever it was slipped under the 1/2 inch space between the closed pantry door and the floor. The two of us raced down to the kitchen and I flung open the pantry door only to HEAR something scuttling and then SEE an ENORMOUS, HUMONGOUS, GIGANTIC brown animal quickly burrow behind the toolbox sitting on the floor. I screamed like a little girl and Justin and I jumped onto the counter top. And I proceeded to talk myself out of barfing.

We were living with an unidentified mammal. I prayed it was a miniature horse or a cuddly kitten. But it was BIGGER THAN A KITTEN. A lot bigger. Did you just read that? IT WAS BIGGER THAN A KITTEN.

I immediately called our landlord Lindsay, who lives in an apartment connected to the house, to explain that the shrieks she likely heard through the walls were not Justin murdering me, but the result of my not completely seeing a horrible thing in our pantry - something that was very likely going to get out of there and bite us with it's horrible pointy diseased teeth.

Unfortunately, it was around 11:00 p.m., so there wasn't much Lindsay could really do, so we stuffed some towels under the pantry door and went to bed. And then I stuffed a towel in the crack under Eliot's door to be safe. I really love my baby's face, and I didn't want some unidentified thing that was BIGGER THAN A KITTEN to eat it off.

Here's the thing: Justin and I have lived in places where mice were frequent visitors. We didn't love living with rodentia, but we could somewhat calmly do what needed to be done to get them out of our house (and into mouse heaven). When we lived above the coffeeshop (sorry to all of you patrons who know the place I'm talking about and frequently consume food and beverages there) the place was somewhat overrun with very cute, but very mousy mice. We kept all of our dry food in plastic bins with lids to make our kitchen less attractive. The poison behind the appliances didn't hurt either.

But this thing, this animal in our house, the one in the room with all of our food? This thing that was BIGGER THAN A KITTEN? I couldn't wait for poison to maybe go into effect, or for some tiny little trap to maybe break one of it's disgusting little animal fingernails. My baby's face was in jeopardy. We needed expert intervention, so I sent a link to Lindsay and prayed that what we actually saw in the pantry was an Armadillo.

Pete the Exterminator showed up the next day during a playdate with our new friends from the neighborhood, Kim and her son Whistle. Nothing makes a better first impression than an exterminator coming to trap a filthy, plague-ridden animal during your first hang session. I held my breath as he opened the pantry door. The homemade rolls I made before the 'sighting' were half eaten and there were crumbs and cereal everywhere. One of the plastic tubs housing some rice and pasta was opened. The lid was off. As in, the thing BIGGER THAN A KITTEN opened it, which suggested to me that it had evolved and developed opposable thumbs.

Pete guessed it was probably a rat and noted that he didn't think we had an infestation as there were no droppings. He set some super-size traps brimming with a rat feast in the pantry and basement and told me to check them at least every 24 hours and call his cell if we caught anything.

And then of course, nothing happened for a couple of days. We checked the traps a few times a day, only half hoping that there would be something to call Pete about. Yay! if we caught it, but, then, ewww, dead animal. Yes, I'm sorry animal lovers, these were lethal traps. Especially since becoming a parent, I have a zero tolerance policy when it anything that has a history of wiping out a third of the population of a continent.

This entire time I have been avoiding the pantry and basement (you have to pass through the pantry to get to the basement) at all costs. Justin has been the primary trap checker, I suppose in a valiant effort to protect his family and all of our faces. We had to take all of our salvageable food out of the pantry so there was really no need for me to go in there. Sadly, my cloth diapers had been mildewing in the washer since the initial fur sighting and this morning I decided I had to buck up and save them.

The first four traps were empty. The one closest to the dryer looked like some of the food was gone, but there wasn't anything trapped in it. It was in a darker corner of the basement, and as I was reaching for the cord to turn the overhead bulb on, I noticed some, well, there's no other word to describe it, I saw some squirts. I initially thought these 'squirts' were some sort of rodent bait liquid that Pete had with his treasure trove of lures. But it wasn't. It was blood. And possibly some guts. Then I saw the tail. And then I saw it. THE RAT BIGGER THAN A KITTEN.

That's when I bolted up the stairs and committed myself to never again going in the basement.

Pete came by before Eliot's nap to empty the trap. He went downstairs to assess the situation and when he came back up, he said, "That's one of the biggest rats I've ever seen. And I've seen a lot of rats." He estimated its length to be at least 10 inches long. Sans tail. He said it was too big for the trap, and that's why it the scene was so gruesome, what with the splatter and the entrails. Reader, it was literally as big as a prairie dog. It was bigger than a squirrel. It was one of the biggest rats a professional exterminator has ever seen. That is pretty fucking big.

THE RAT BIGGER THAN A KITTEN is gone, but I still don't feel totally at ease. Pete said he couldn't figure out how a rat that size got into the house in the first place. Lindsay came over to check the perimeter and she didn't see any obvious ways in either. I'm really hoping that this was a fluke. That it somehow ran in while I was bringing groceries in and had my back turned. Right? Right? I just have to be extra careful and this will never ever happen again.



JJ said...

Oh my gawd, what a crazy story!!
You really need a cat. Or a rat-eating monster.
Maybe it travelled with you from said coffeehouse and mutated into a giant creature. I sooo don't eat there.

Mama Non Grata said...

bleaurg. but -- fantastic post. at least you can create art out of a potential face-mauling.

trish said...

I really just threw up in mouth a little, for 2 reasons... 1) GROSS. and 2) I had lunch at said coffee shop today.

hannah said...

You should probably just move back to St. Louis, I think that will be the only way to be sure that there will be no more rats.(maybe not, but at least we would be around to actually see your face as your telling the story) :)

Danielle said...


While you have a way with the written word, I think I would have laughed my ass off a little harder with your oral telling!!!!

Sara said...

Oh dear, Heather! I have to say that this same thing happened to me in a tiny, overpriced WU-affiliated studio apartment in U. City (STL). And I am pretty certain the rat was close to your prairie dog in size. All I saw was the tail, and it alone was prob. 6 inches long! Not having the courage of the Butters, I barricaded myself into the main room, and spent the night wide awake with a broom. According to the emergency super hot line, this was not an emergency! Are you kidding? My life was at stake! The next day I promptly moved out, as I was subletting. I told the renter that I had not paid for vermin. There was no way I was staying there! So, anyway, I applaud your bravery. Be careful. Maybe you need to consider firearms... lol...

Gina Marie Wake said...

Despite the gross subject matter, this story was highly entertaining. :)

Kim said...

i think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit!!!! (ok I didn't see someone else said that till just now...but truly that's how I feel!) EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW
YOU ARE BRAVE!!!!!!!!!! I would have moved out until it was gone and bleach the freakin floor like a lot!

Kim said...

Maybe I should get you some mace to keep around your house...In case the next one is bear sized!!!

Mama Cass said...

I got here via an old blog post from Me? A Mom?...anyway, this story is horrifying. Thanks for sharing with some comedic relief, or I'd not have gotten through it. Yuck. But wasn't it nice to have such great material for writing?

Brato said...


Allison said...

Just read this now (yes, months later) and I FEEL FOR YOU, sister! In Boston, we had Norway rats, and although they never made it inside, they were all over the streets and alleys after dark.
Trust me, you'd wait until light to take the trash out. They are also excellent swimmers and have often made their way through sewer lines into people's TOILETS.
But I'm sure your problem is solved now ;)