|This poor guy got his nose stuck in one of our mousetraps.|
After our recent, and what most likely appears to be second, infestation of these rodents in our 110-year-old home, I would have to agree—especially after hearing my husband’s terrified call from downstairs around 11 o’clock Friday night.
“We have some kind of creature in the house!” he screamed, miraculously rousing me but not our three children.
Despite my instinctive realization that responding would ill suit my nerves, I found myself thrusting off the bedcovers and charging downstairs. Jeff hovered near the entrance to our living room, peering at the fireplace and clutching our children’s emptied LEGO box in his hands.
“You see it right there? Right there?” my husband demanded, stabbing the air with the LEGO box lid. “That’s its eye, glaring at us.”
Almost hoping that Jeff was experiencing a psychotic break instead of the possibility that a rodent was actually perching on our mantle, I quickly spotted the intruder—a beast neither Jeff nor I could identify in terms of species but one that we both agreed should not be there.
My husband then related how, as he sat on the couch, tapping away on his laptop, the creature had popped out of a hole in the masonry, skittered across the stone work and frozen, surveying the room with its glinting eye.
Terror clutched me as I began to understand that this late-night fiasco offered no satisfactory resolution—for us or for the rodent—especially after Jeff finally harnessed the courage to lunge at the fireplace with the LEGO box in a failed attempt to trap it.
The intruder flashed back inside its nook. Jeff and I stood stunned and heaving, as if we had just finished a sprint, reasoning, hoping that the clawing we now heard was the creature retreating up and out of our chimney.
At a loss about what now to do, Jeff soothed himself with Google, trying to match his memory of what looked like a pregnant mouse with a long tail and the nearly indecipherable image he caught on his iPhone of its glinting eye, with pictures he pulled up in the search engine. The deeper he delved into the repellent world of bats and other nocturnal vermin, the harder I found it to resist texting our exterminator, whose cell phone number I had managed to obtain during an infestation of grey squirrels in our eaves several years ago.
In those days, I would groggily awake each morning, our third baby, now 4, on my hip, and try to ignore the scratching sounds in the ceiling of our kitchen as I sipped my coffee. Only after I started to hear those same noises in the walls of my infant’s room did we shake ourselves into action.
A kindly exterminator set an exit-only trap through which the squirrels left and could not return, and I weaseled the man’s mobile phone number out of him for future emergencies.
This, clearly, was one.
“So sorry to text at this time, but we just had what we think is a squirrel come out of the stone façade of our fireplace,” I wrote. “Can you come out tomorrow?”
“Not likely a squirrel,” he answered, to my amazement, at 11:32 p.m., but without quite addressing my question. “Maybe a flying squirrel. Regular squirrels are sound asleep.”
“A flying squirrel!” I hissed at Jeff, who starting scrolling through harrowing images of the winged rodents and sharing disturbing trivia with me, such as the fact that flying squirrels live in colonies, chew through wires causing house fires and are misnamed since the animals merely use the “parachute-like membranes connecting their forelegs and hind legs on each side” to “glide.”
“Advice?” I texted the exterminator, who had lapsed into unresponsiveness.
“Leave door open. Have to let it out. They will sense the air.”
As helpful as he had been in the past, the exterminator’s counsel now felt highly unsatisfactory and frankly somewhat suspect. Was he drunk?
I was supposed to leave our front entrance gaping to the 31-degree November night and sit for however long it took until the nasty creature decided to glide out?
My husband and I abandoned that chilly plan after 42 minutes. We shut up the house, cranked up the thermostat and closed the French doors to the living room, stuffing towels under the cracks for good measure.
At 9:01 the next morning, feeling only mildly disloyal, I arranged a date with a new exterminator for that afternoon and then related my tale of flying squirrel woe, via text, to a couple of friends.
“I thought those were only in the Amazon!” one wrote back. “Panic attack!!”
Matters failed to brighten when the new exterminator climbed atop our treacherous roof with the aid of several ladders, confirmed that we were probably harboring a colony of flying squirrels and said that it would cost approximately $700 for him to trap them.
“Do what you have to do,” Jeff said.
“If it was your house, would you keep the den sealed off?” I anxiously inquired.
“I’m an exterminator,” the man laughed. “I sleep with snakes in my room.”
He headed back up our roof, this time armed with several sinister-looking cages that we would have to check daily until they stopped filling with vermin.
“I really enjoyed talking to that guy,” Jeff later declared, to my amazement.
I, on the other hand, was determined not to fall so quickly this time. I decided to withhold judgment until our squirrels had flown the coop and until I had ascertained the quality of our new exterminator’s responsiveness to midnight texts.
And I'm going to keep stuffing the living room door cracks with towels in the meantime.