Patsy Porco

Two Hundred and Thirty Eight Dollars

In Humor, Rodents on January 3, 2011 at 3:05 pm

It all started in the middle of the night. A bag of bread that was left on our kitchen table when we went to bed was relocated to a kitchen chair and half-eaten when we awoke the next morning. Being the brave rodent hunters that we are, we immediately summoned an exterminator. The guy showed up, said, “You’ve got mice,” put out some bait and said, “That will be $238. You have a four-month guarantee.” Then he told me to plug up areas under the sink with steel wool and ended with, “Call us in a month if you see any more activity.” “Two-hundred and thirty eight dollars for bait?” my husband and I asked each other … after the guy left, of course. We didn’t want to look cheap. “We could have bought bait for a lot less than that,” my husband noted. What made the deal worse was that we were really only getting a three-month guarantee since we had to observe “activity” for a month before calling in reinforcements.

Of course we saw activity during the exterminator’s grace period. I was greeted every morning by black rice-sized excrement that I had to sweep up before I served my son his breakfast (after washing my hands, of course).  One morning, I had to sweep up a dead field mouse. The problem seemed to be over at that point and we all forgot about it. Then, one morning, my husband found a gnawed banana on a dining room chair. The fruit bowl was on the dining room table, so something had dragged it down onto the chair before eating it. Once again, we called the exterminator. A different guy showed up this time—their “wildlife expert”—and he told us that we still had mice, and that he had seen “activity” in the basement. So, he re-baited the traps. He then pointed out additional gaps that I had to fill.  He told me that steel wool wasn’t good enough and that I had to buy foam insulation that turned hard once it was sprayed into crevices, and that I had to fill every hole with it. I told my husband what he said and my husband asked why we had to do the work when we were paying the exterminating company. I told him that the exterminator obviously had his limits as to what he would do for the paltry sum of $238. Then I headed out to buy the foam insulation. The next day, despite the insulation, the invader had taken an apple from the fruit bowl in the dining room and had carried it into the kitchen, where it nibbled on it under the kitchen cabinets. When my husband asked why in the world I had left anything edible out, I told him we were trapping an animal, and this particular animal liked fruit, so of course I would leave fruit out.  He just shook his head and threw out the fruit that was still left in the fruit bowl.

Later that day, on a walk with our dog, I spotted a cache of acorns at the base of an oak tree. I scooped up about thirty or forty and put them in a bag for my friend who likes acorns. When I got home, I put the bag on the dining room table. The next morning, the acorns were gone. The bag was still there, ripped to shreds, but the nuts were nowhere to be found. My husband and son claimed that they knew nothing about the acorns and even insinuated that the acorns were never there in the first place. If it weren’t for the ripped-up bag, I might have believed them. Later that night, the dog started sniffing around the base of the stove. I peered under the stove and saw an acorn. I knew that whatever happened next wasn’t going to be good. My husband had the good fortune to be at work, so my son and I pulled out the stove. What we saw was horrifying: a real-live rat’s nest. A huge collection of insulation, steel wool, and piles of acorns, dog food, and excrement. And a measuring cup, a stick of gum, and a Frisbee. It was like the Borrowers had moved in. As we stared in horror at the mess—while holding the stove in mid-air—the mess moved. Slowly, a very large, very black rat emerged from the piles. We almost dropped the stove. Then the rat ambled over to a hole behind the stove and disappeared. The rest happened in a blur. We pulled the stove all the way out and started cleaning up the nest. After a large trash bag was filled with the detritus, we had to clean up the hole, which was crammed with acorns and steel wool, which made us wonder how the rat had gotten through the hole in the first place. Then the scouring and disinfecting began. It was a truly horrendous experience.

The next day, the head exterminator came and pulled out all the stops. He apologized for his team’s botching of the job and told us that he wouldn’t charge us the rat extermination fee. Apparently the $238 only covered putting out mice bait and making us do all the grunt work. He put out spring traps that could catch a horse and told us to call him after the weekend was over. We were supposed to, once again, observe “activity,” and if necessary, “finish the rat off” with a hammer if he got caught in a trap and didn’t die. The hell with that. We put the dog in the kennel, packed bags, and moved into a hotel. The rat won. He could have the house.

On Monday morning, after dropping our son off at school, we called the head exterminator and told him that we’d meet him at our home. We all crept into the kitchen, not knowing what we would encounter. Thankfully, the rat had met his maker, down in the basement. The exterminator offered to show us the dead object of our terror. I declined, but my husband reasoned that it couldn’t bother us now, so he looked. He later told me that the rat was bigger than his foot. After disposing of the rat (he refused to nail the dead rat to a post to discourage other rats from venturing inside our house), the exterminator returned and re-set traps. We were also told that we needed to have a “cement guy” reinforce our foundation so that nothing else could venture inside.

Wouldn’t you think that we would have done that immediately? Nah, spring seems soon enough. We still have a few months left on our four-month guarantee. We want to get our 238 dollars’ worth.

  1. That is a horrifying story! It’s going to keep me awake at night.

  2. Great story, Patsy. They say black rats are good luck. Seriously, call Jennifer and ask her about the guy we have to handles our invaders (mice, squirrels and bats, so far), and the other fellow who does the insulation. The entire perimeter of your house has to be sealed at the foundation, from the inside.

  3. Thanks for the lead Jack. I’ll call Jen.

  4. Patsy, great story! Normally, I would say it is far fetched, but Cecilia had a flying squirrel in her bedroom. It came through a hole in her ceiling from installing a ceiling fan. I was not deligent in repairing the ceiling. I ended up calling an exterminator; however, the price was not quite as high as yours. Here’s to no more uninvited guests!

  5. What a horrendous experiance! I had a snake in my house…not a little garter snake but i would guess 4 1/2 to 5 feet! I walked in my bathroom and he was draped across my curtain rod. He looked at me and i looked back for a second..then i heard a strange scream come from my body ( you know i am not a loud person but i think they probably heard me in Lithopolis) and I ran out the door. Well i sat on the front porch till i could find my dad but by the time he arrived at my place the snake was no where to be found and he too plugged the holes with steel wool but my fear was that the snake was still in the house and now wouldnt be able to get out OR that the rest of his snake faily were left behind! Anyway i was several days before i could sleep in my home and even now i sleep with the lights on.I know that sounds silly as some of my friends ( male friends!) have pointed out that they didnt think that the lights would keep a snake away and that he probably wasn’t poisonious.Poisionous or not i am not comfortable sharing my home with anything without legs. But had i known about your problem earlier we could have solved your problem alot quicker. See snakes eat rodents!

    • Linda, I would have been frightened, too! Four to five feet long? Good Lord. I remember my father came racing out of the bathroom yelling that there was a garter snake in the toilet and he was sure one of my brothers had put it there. Of course they didn’t admit to it, if they had done it. If I were you, I’d find get a pet that eats snakes. Although, I’m not sure if alligators are legal as pets in Ohio. If you find that snake, please send him to me. I’m not afraid of non-poisonous snakes, especially if they eat rodents.

  6. […] Take today: I was thinking that it had been two years since we had had a rat in our house. (To read the last time’s account, see “Two Hundred and Thirty-Eight Dollars […]

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