Thursday, August 16, 2012

CSI Missouri

Warning:  Some readers may be terrified by one of the images
contained in this post.  Viewer discretion is advised.

I was about to wrap things up for the day when I looked down while priming a window sash.

"Uh-oh," I said.

Charlie sighed.  "What?  Whenever you say 'uh-oh', it ain't good."  He had stopped by before going home from work, so he was tired and filthy and not in the mood to deal with a problem.

"See that hole in the side of the house there?  My drain hose thingy for the air conditioner's supposed to poke out through that hole.  It's gone.  I wonder how long it's been gone?" I said.

We went downstairs to the scary basement to check things out.  This is Charlie's first trip to the scary basement, and it was memorable.  He walked across the cement floor, pulled the chain for the light, stepped off the edge of the cement onto the dirt floor, and then yelled, "Cheese and rice!"  (Well, that's not exactly what he yelled, but this is a family show.)

He yelled because he saw this:  (This is the yucky picture, in case some of y'all don't want to look.)

That is a dead rat slowly decomposing in my basement.  His head is flat.  The rest of him is rather well-preserved.  He is still down there.  I plan to leave him there until he's nothing but bones and then use his little skeleton as part of my Halloween display.  Or maybe not.

Anyhow, after some CSI-style investigation, this is the chain of events as we believe it occurred:

Sometime between June 1st and, say, yesterday, the rat crawled through the hole in the side of the house that the hose pokes through, pushing the hose out of the hole and onto the basement floor as he did so.  I established June 1st as the earliest possible date this could've happened because that's the last time I was in the basement, to put a 3-month air filter in my air conditioner.  The rat was not dead in the middle of the floor on that date.

Shortly after entering the basement, the rat then set up housekeeping in this:
That is a small pump which the condensation from the air conditioner flows into.  When the pump gets full, it kicks on and pumps the water out to the other hose, up the basement wall, and outside.  Because the rat turned it into an apartment and filled it full of dried grass and rat doody, the pump stopped working and the water from the air conditioner went out onto the dirt floor, where it turned into mold.  (I actually find this photo much more disturbing than the one of the dead rat, by the way.)  Besides the grass and poop, the rat house contained one more item:  a large quantity of D-Con that's at least 15 years old.  Esther, the little old lady who lived here before me, must have been very afraid of mice and cockroaches.  When I moved in, I threw away probably 50 roach motels and several boxes of D-Con that were so old they'd turned solid.  Evidently I missed one of the D-Con bricks and Mr. Rat found it, gnawed on it, and went to his Great Reward.

I, on the other hand, went to the store and bought a big box of SOS pads, which I stuffed into the hole around the hose, and also into the hole where the electrical for the air conditioner comes into the house.  (Why SOS pads?  Because rats and mice supposedly won't eat them.)  This weekend Charlie will put spray insulation on the inside of those holes and something on the outside that looks nicer than scrunched-up SOS pads.  We'll also look around the foundation and make sure there aren't any other rat access points.  Yuck.


  1. I love that you are so real, not everyone would admit they have, or had, rats in their basement! LOL! We once had a snake in our basement which is just as bad! That's why I like outdoor cats, they deter mice and snakes from coming around.

  2. Well, I guess that old D-Con did the job. Imagine if the rat had been alive. Cheese and rice, double order, coming right up!

  3. I burst out laughing at Kate's comment. Yeah, no doubt.

    High quality investigative coverage you got there. Two thumbs up.

  4. My niece also had a rat visitor in her apt. She discovered it when she heard something bouncing down her was a rat dragging a soap-on-a-rope. Atleast he liked to smell good!

  5. We "cleaned out" a cellar drain after having first moved. The PO's had reported seeing "big spiders" and "an occasional mouse" in the 100 year old house when asked what to expect since old houses have a tendency to attract critters. The morning after cleaning out the drain, a friend of yours came out of the drain, up the stairs and was calming eating a hole in my husbands BRAND NEW Carhart's trying to get through to his chew. My mother could hear me screaming lots of words that began with F through two doors and all the storm windows when she pulled in the drive. Husband thought I did not know the difference between and rat and a mouse. After he saw the damage then HE was equally pissed. The thing went back down the stairs and hid beneath a pallet we used to keep things off of the damp floor. We ended up having to shoot it, risking steam heat pipes and all. The drain was fixed! And every sign of mice or otherwise has always scared me since. Of course, the fact is that that was the only one of that size (have had mice) we ever dealt with. You should have heard me light into the PO the next time I ran into him! Old houses always give you a surprise once in a while.... After we had lived here about 10 years and revamped the kitchen cupboards, we found an old nasty mouse nest under the lazy susan cabinet. I have always hated them for more than the fact that they pinch fingers... and that was my confirmation. Glad it was the only one for you. (and that Charlie was around... how are things going?)(fingers crossed for him!)