Monday, December 1, 2014

The uninvited Thanksgiving guest

Welcome back from Thanksgiving break, which I didn't know I was taking, 
but it took me several days to recover from my uninvited guest, and 
I used that as an excuse to not blog for several days. Please forgive me.

Our story begins in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning. I was sound asleep in my bed,
Smooch was sound asleep in her chair, and something was wide awake in the attic.

I had never heard a creature in the attic before, let alone one that sounded
large enough to eat through the plaster in its attempts to get out of wherever it was trapped.
How could it have gotten up there? What could it be? What should I do?

I turned on the lights, expecting to see a hole in the ceiling and gigantic teeth gnawing their way into
my bedroom. I saw nothing. Were the clawing and scratching noises really coming from the attic? 
I wasn't sure. I looked in the kitchen pantry. Nobody there. I looked in the bedroom closet. 
Nobody there, either. Then I retrieved a stethoscope and listened to an interior wall
that separates my bedroom from the kitchen.

Clearly there was at least a four-foot long creature of some sort stuck in the wall, 
trying to find a way out. "Breathe," I told myself. You know the enemy and you can defeat him.
Tomorrow. In the light of day. Meanwhile, I grabbed Smooch, closed the bedroom door,
and we both went to sleep in the guest room.

So Thanksgiving morning, Operation Destroy Whatever Is in the Attic and/or Wall commenced.

Attics are such a good idea in theory. In practice, they're a dumping ground.
If something is irrelevant enough to stash in the attic, it's not worth keeping.
Why don't I ever listen to my own advice?

Anyway, you would think a four-foot long creature with plaster-gnawing teeth 
would be easy to find. Not so. Though I did find these teeny tiny paw prints
and the occasional piece of mouse poop.

I deduced that the creature must still be stuck in the bedroom wall, so I tiptoed through the trusses 
to the other end of the attic looking for a gaping hole in the insulation, 
which would surely help me pinpoint the behemoth's location. I found nothing. 
Hmm. Now what do I do? Let Johnny live in the attic for awhile and let him catch it? 
Bad idea – the insulation is probably hazardous and besides, whatever it is has to be 10 times Johnny's size.

I wished I'd had one of those big live-trap things that you use to catch badgers and such, 
but I didn't, so I made do with what was available. 
I didn't hear any scratching or clawing during the night 
and was cautiously optimistic when I peeked in the attic Friday morning.

The beast obviously shrunk overnight, but he seemed to like the peanut butter I served
for Thanksgiving dinner.


  1. Let's look at the upside here, the "meat" is not poisoned so it can be fed to the Ladies Who Lay. It might not have the appeal of a fresh mouse with a chase, but beggars can't be choosers. Here at my house, my little Have-a-Hart trap is hard at work with peanut butter and sunflower seeds. Snap, catch, drown, toss the free protein into the woods. It is getting cold around here and the scavengers appreciate a free, healthy meal. Even if it is a teaspoon sized mouse. My "mouse" has turned out to be five of them and counting...

  2. Thanks for that. I'm surprised, nay, shocked, that you didn't throw it to the chickens and show us their feasting happy dance.

  3. Yep, just went through this myself. Two "used" mousetraps later, I seem to have vanquished the enemy. Hope yours was a solitary scout and this sent a message to any other of its friends and relatives.

  4. Good Hunting! The simple solution is the best, and I'm sure Johnny enjoyed his usual patrol routine, rather than the attic.

    I've heard that scratching/clawing noise before (sheet rock walls & ceilings). I believe that the entire wall or ceiling works as a sound board (think musical instrument) ... magnifying the actual sound well beyond the proportions of the critter involved.

    Have-A-Heart does make a trap with a small wire grid. I use one to catch chip-munks and grey squirrels.
    The small ones have a pretty sensitive trip. You might have had to make several trips to the attic to get the culprit.
    In your circumstances, you really don't need to do a live-release. The permanent solution is the best.

    You might want to get prepared for more un-invited guests (snap-traps/ glue-traps/bait).
    With all the rain this summer there was a lot more green growth and food production.
    More food means more rodents. With the cold weather, they will be looking for a warm, dry winter habitat ... AWAY from the C.A.T.

    M in NC

  5. You need a safari hat and a blunderbuss now!

    1. Oh yes! This is a wonderful idea. And please post the pictures so I can compare them with the ones I have in my head!!

  6. My niece keeps getting squirrels in her walls. They covered all vents with screens, patched any hole they could find but she still gets a squirrel in her wall every winter.

  7. I am glad you survived. I would miss your posts.


  8. I hope you notified someone beforehand, of your intent to walk through the trusses ------

  9. your are a story teller extraordinaire!!! i love your story, you turn everyday nothing into fun fun fun... this is what we do with visitors in the garage. our attic in the garage has a divers bell that has been there UNMOVED for 25 years.....

  10. I recall, from my days in an old farmhouse, just how noisy one little rodent can be in the bedroom walls! I do believe they become The Incredible Hulk during the night, shrinking back to normal size during daylight hours.

  11. Glad you weren't eaten. Jean beat me to the Incredible Hulk theory. :)

  12. Mercy! I hope...that one particular saying is not true. 'Where there is one, there is five'. Just kidding. Is there such a saying? When I lived on a farm, we had them in the walls. They were called Norwegian Roof Rats. They were quite hairy and we were infested! Thankfully, a few hundred bait boxes did the trick. (well, six bait boxes) I have never been so happy to see the critter service bring in poison every single month! There is nothing worse than hearing critters in your walls! I believe in poison and shot guns. What were you going to do with a live trap? Please don't say it. Happy Monday!

  13. Mice in walls - a uniquely terrifying horror. It's virtually impossible to sleep with all that racket going on. We had a mouse (I refuse to believe there is ever more than one in my house at any given time) caught in the ceiling between our main and 2nd floor bedrooms. We were convinced it was a raccoon or similar that was gnawing on the trusses. Those little mice are noisy little buggers. Glad you caught the trespasser before any more damage was done. Sleep tight!

  14. wow, you caught it! Though you probably don't have just one...Mine get clever: they come into the house when it gets cold outside, and I have to try a ton of different treats and/or poisons. I think the drawing of the 4-foot creature stuck in the wall may be one of my favorite things ever...that is exactly what is sounds like!

  15. Just went through this myself. Got six of the little pests. I use pepperoni in the traps or salami, they can't resist it. My motto is "Stay outside and you're fine, come inside your a$$ is mine!"

  16. I know some people who would have moved out rather than deal with that. This is the season for mouse househunting, though. No getting around that. You might want to load up a few more traps just for insurance.

  17. Yeah mice can be a problem we are going through that now because of the cold they are finding their way in. Thank goodness for mouse traps.

  18. Boy, you have guts! I might have opened the attic hatch IF I had a gun in my hand. Thanks for the smiles.

  19. poor little creature, what about leaving peanut butter in the garage and outside so they won't go into the attic?

  20. Mice on a ranch spells trouble, especially in the winter when they are looking for food and warmth. I would set the trap again and again until it sit for a week and did not catch anything.

  21. Surely this is a site well worth seeing.

  22. Linda,

    Had my own winter attic visitors a few years back. Easy solution. Go to Home Depot and get some TomCat. In a few days, all is quiet.,store:5181256934226800587&prds=oid:4604542098686495915&hl=en&cm_mmc=shopping-_-googleads-_-pla-_-202518709&ci_sku=202518709&ci_gpa=pla&ci_src=17588969&gclid=Cj0KEQiAwPCjBRDZp9LWno3p7rEBEiQAGj3KJhaYop8vkVFIaTB-6X-Db0pyK-Yhja0tEkqozaDvQcYaAqkY8P8HAQ

    12/1/14, 8:21 PM

    Please prove you're not a robot
    reCAPTCHA challenge image

  23. An American in Tokyo12/4/14, 5:06 PM

    Eww...I don't think I could ever deal with that! I can barely handle the rare cockroach! Even when they are dead, I have to use BBQ tongs to throw them outside. What do you do with the dead mice? Throw them outside for the girls?