|Beneath Mr. Darcy's feet is something really, really interesting. His interest in the dining-room heating vent was the first clue.|
|The truck you really don't want in front of your house.|
|One of these pest-control guys -- and I won't say which one -- semi-panicked when he saw what was under our dining-room floor.|
All fall, as I’ve sat on the living-room couch poring over books for a university project, I’ve been hearing unusual noises. “Ping!” something would go, mutedly from the direction of the adjoining dining room. Or “rustle, rustle,” then silence. Neighbours, I thought, they sound so close they might as well move right in. Or I blamed it on my new fridge, with its infinite repertoire of odd whines and beeps. “It’s trying to make ice cubes,” my partner John has told me, “it’s making those noises because we won’t let it.”
Then our cat, Mr. Darcy, began hovering over the dining-room heating vent. Sniffing, inquisitively.
John pooh-poohed my verdict of critters until the night something danced a jig on the heating pipes right under his feet. “Critters,” he said.
It’s not like we didn’t know there was potential for trouble. A 1930s house with a foundation-less dining-room extension: What could go wrong? (When we bought the house 40 years ago, the room was tilting so alarmingly that we called in the house-raisers to level it with concrete blocks.) Over the years, we’ve deliberately not noticed the gaps beginning to yawn between the ground and the bottom of our favourite room.
All of which led to a pleasant young man from an “eco-friendly” pest-control company looming large in the doorway of our little house last week. John took him downstairs and somehow squeezed him through the tiny door into the problem area. From my usual perch on the couch above, I could hear him moving around. Then came a squeak of semi-panic. “Ewww, ewww, rats, rats! They’re all over the place, there must be 10 of them in here!”
Maybe a young man in the pest control business shouldn’t panic over rats, I thought, but I didn’t see him again before he went, leaving behind six traps and a recommendation for the installation of a wire mesh barrier. But when he returned this week to finish the job, he was a bit sheepish. It was just the surprise, he said. The rats were running over his feet and between his legs and he couldn’t help himself.
Meanwhile, I’d been hearing some new noises from my spot on the couch. “Snap!” something went sharply one evening. Then twice again. We could have left it, but John is of a curious disposition, and couldn’t help himself either. Down he went to the underworld, emerging with a bucket of three (quite large) dead rats, which he buried in the back yard, complete with their traps.
On Monday, the young man and an assistant dug a trench around the perimeter of the dining room, installed wire mesh to prevent further burrowing and set more traps. One more rat emerged (and died) while they were working.
I’m still listening, but Mr. Darcy has given up on the heating vent, and the neighbours and fridge have gone remarkably quiet. I'm hoping the six remaining rats have found another place for the winter.
|The problem: A nice hole, well used, for whatever wants to crawl under our dining room.|
|The solution: Wire mesh dug down a couple of feet and attached to the wall.|
|The trench in progress. . .|
|And the wire installed.|
|The trench on the west side.|
|And the wire installed.|
|The workers' gear.|
|This black box, safe for kids and pets, contains a trap intended to lure any remaining rats on the property. The workers left several outside and under the house.|
|And Mr. Darcy, relaxing. What, was I supposed to catch those rats?|