A Rat, A Snake, and A Mouse – A Cautionary Tale

posted in: Humor, Writing | 2

The world and current events have been a little heavy. Perhaps it is time to bring some levity to the room and share my cautionary tale of local wildlife.

rat snake mouse

If you know me IRL (in real life) you probably know that a couple of years ago we had a snake living in our attic. We knew he was there because Addison could hear something moving above his room. It was not the typical scratching noise you hear with mice in the attic, rather a dragging sound that was obviously a snake. I chose to embrace the idea of a basilisk living in our attic because it would control any mice or squirrels that tried to take up residence in our attic. Squirrels and rats chew through wiring and cost money. Mice carry the plague. Need I saw more?

After years of harmonious co-habitation with the snake (besides the snake-looking-for-someone-special-to-share-his-life-with pheromone odor that had us thinking something died in our vents) we had to get rid of him (not my choice). We had some work scheduled for our HVAC system in the attic and the technician promptly came down stairs to let us know he would be back when the snake living around the furnace was gone. Sadly, my cold-blooded friend was evicted by pest control. It turns out my beautiful snake was a harmless (to humans) rat snake, was about four feet long and was relocated to a rural area of town where hopefully he found that special someone he has been putting out pheromones for. It wasn’t poisonous so he could have stayed in our attic for all of his days if it were up to me. But whatever HVAC technician.

Jump forward three years.

This past summer we noticed a rat hanging out on our back pergola. She seemed to enjoy just watching our comings and goings, dining al fresco, and general summer life. Conan the dog made it his full-time job to keep his eye on her. As much as he would have liked to roll play the rat-in-the-nursery scene from Lady and The Tramp and emerge the dog hero, the rat was constantly out of his reach and would never become a tasty snack.

As fall approached the rat found her way inside our attic (despite our best intentions to seal up any entry points). We knew it was our patio rat because of her absence from the pergola, unmistakable rodent scratching noises in the ceiling along with a super creepy rhythmic thumping sound too big to be a mouse. You know what’s not cool? Watching The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix in which one of the ghosts rhythmically thumps his cane around the house and then being home alone and hearing a very similar thumping noise moving around inside your walls.

The rat had to go.

Adam purchased a trap so he could capture it the humane way. Alas, the trap was too big. Our rat dined on peanut butter and pecans each night, setting off the trap but escaping through the bars. Adam went back to the hardware store and purchased a smaller trap. However, the rat’s fat butt (thanks to us providing room service of peanut butter and pecans) was too big for the trap and could back out even when the trap was sprung. To ensure it was indeed a rat, and not a squirrel, we Face-timed our little guest. We set up Adam’s phone just inside the attic while Face-timing my phone. Secret of NIMH approached the phone, said hello, thanked us for the treats, sprang the trap and then scurried away.

Back to the hardware store for the medium-sized trap. Voila!

Our rat was sent packing to a rural part of town. Perhaps she found our snake friend and commiserated their exile from easy living.

It was about this time that I discovered mouse droppings under my kitchen sink and on shelves in my pantry.

My pantry…where I keep food to feed my precious family. Remember my problem with rodents from earlier? The one about the plague? My head exploded when I saw mouse droppings on top of my canned goods. Then I found a dropping inside my rice cooker…after I made rice. (insert atomic blast here) Every bit of food that may have been exposed to disease carrying droppings was tossed. Every pot, pan and appliance that could have had tiny rodent feet scamper across it was scoured. Every surface was wiped down and bleached. Basically, I razed my cabinets and pantry and started over from scratch.

Along the same timeline of the mouse apocalypse I happened to be listening to the book A Wind In The Door by Madeleine L’engle. In the book there is a very large black snake that looks after the children and helps protects them from the main antagonist. The snake’s name is Louise and she is both intimidating and helpful.

Not long after my kitchen had been de-moused, Tom and Jerry style mouse holes boarded up, and bait set up in the cupboards under the sink, I was alone at home and happened upon a black baby snake just inside my back door that leads into the kitchen/living room. It was a very chilly day so the door had not been left open so how she got in was a mystery. But there it was anyway. It seemed too much of a coincidence that I should be reading about a mysterious and mystical snake that protects a family when suddenly a black snake mysteriously appears inside my door. I did what any normal INFP would do and scooped it up in a Solo cup and put it in my attic. I figured if it was meant to be, my personal Louise would find the furnace and make a snug home in our attic and take care of any future rat and/or mice problems.

The next day Conan the Dog and Harry found my mysterious little friend in the living room. She had made her way past a sealed attic door, down the stairs, down the hallway and into the entrance to our living room. I felt like she was trying to tell me something. Why else would this baby snake make herself known to me, twice? Perhaps there is enough magic left in the world that a baby snake wanted to take up residence in my house with the intention of being a silent guardian. Unfortunately, my level-headed and down to earth husband insisted we put the snake outside…in the cold where surely it perished.

Since that time we have not had mice in the kitchen but I’ve heard tiny scratching in the attic. I’ve put mouse bait in the attic but hold firm to the conviction that a snake would be just as efficient.

So, if you find a snake in your attic; leave it there. It may have been sent to you by an other-worldly force that is looking after you.


2 Responses

  1. Tammie

    Thanks for the story. We have rat snakes in Kansas and I’ve been told over and over how gentle they are. I’m a snake-o-phob so we’re not going there. Anyway, I have 2 traps of different sizes and bait constantly set in my attic space due to the extra creatures that sometimes, somehow get up there. Maybe if I got over my Adam and Eve third wheel in the garden problem, things would be different. Anyway, good luck on your future reptilian meetings.

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