This is not a rat.
THIS IS A RAT.
I don't care if that photo shows a CGI rat or a puppet rat or a guy in a rat costume. That photo sums up everything a rat is: Scary. Dirty. Vicious. Nasty. Gross.
And they're living in my house!!!
We started hearing funny noises above our heads about a month ago. We'd be in the living room, watching tv, when all of a sudden we'd hear a dry, rustling noise, skittering across the ceiling, near our skylight. Like leaves rustling across the roof. At least, that's what we hoped it was. I sent Alfie into the attic, but he didn't see anything.
Then a friend of mine posted on Facebook about our city's rat infestation. They had just discovered rats in their home. Apparently, all the construction around the neighborhood has disrupted the rats' nesting sites, so they've had to find new ones. She lives just a block away. We've got construction going on right next door.
Then, about two weeks ago, I pulled into the driveway and got out of the van. It was dark, but the van's headlights were still on, giving me the perfect spotlight to notice a rustling in the trees above. I saw lots of movement, and thought, Either that's a squirrel or that's a rat. But rats don't climb trees...right?
It wasn't a rat. It was TWO RATS. They fell about 10 feet to the ground, landed on their feet, and scampered away to the construction site next door.
Seriously, rats? Palo Alto topped Livability's 100 best cities to live in the US, and there are rats???
Words cannot describe how grossed out I am. I can take ant infestations. I can take flies and mosquitoes. I can even take cockroaches (hey, I'm from the Philippines, cockroaches are gross, but they're a fact of life). But rats? No. Just no.
I called the same exterminator that my friend used. He came to the house today, and showed me all the places where rats could get into the house. Despite the rats' size, just a 1/2 inch hole is all they need to wriggle their way in.
Utilities and tv cables are a rat's dream, because when they're installed, the installers drill holes for the cables.
That thing I said about rats not living in trees? Well, they climb like pros. That pretty architectural detail at the top of our gable is like a rat beacon. Come on in, rats, here's a warm, dry place, make yourselves at home!
Alfie missed the warning signs because he didn't know what to look for. That little black bar is a piece of rat poop. That bit of torn insulation was chewed off by a rat, looking to line its nest.
Fortunately, our infestation is not too bad, and our upstairs attic is completely clean (just the crawl space under the house and the first floor attic, which takes up less than half of the house). Most importantly, they haven't made their way into the inside of the house.
The exterminator laid some rat poison and he'll come back in a fortnight or so to follow up. The poison is supposed to dehydrate them and send them out of our home, looking for water, so they end up dying outside, not in our attic or crawl space. Shriveling up seems like an awful way to die, but I don't feel sorry for them, not one bit.
Just having him lay down the poison to get rid of the rats cost us $235. For an extra $400, we can have him come back and plug up all the holes with wire mesh (which has such small holes, no rats can get in). It sounds like a lot, but it's worth it to get rid of the rats.