Thursday, December 18, 2008

Things that go scratch in the night

Around 3:30 am last night, I was pulled from my precious, wonderful, beloved sleep by some quiet noises. At first, while I was still drifting up from a dream, I though it was Michael moving around in his crib down the hall. I started to groan mentally; annoyed at waking up over something so trivial when I realized that the sounds were not coming from Michael’s room. It sounded like someone was in my room going through a pile of papers, yet I could feel Andy in bed right next to me. That’s when my eyes popped open and my heart started pounding in my ears.

The worst part about my heart pounding in my ears is that it makes it very difficult to actually listen to the sound and try to identify what it is. I could tell that it was in my room, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Calm down, breathe, calm down.

Two weeks after we moved into our townhome, about five years ago, a squirrel invaded our attic. We were very frustrated with the desecration of our first home and rushed up to investigate. Mr. Fuzzy, whom I referred to as MF for short, had found a roll of paper towels, and was forming a nest in the insulation under the eaves. I removed the paper towels, and surveyed the scene to see how MF was getting in. On one side, our house is completely separated from our neighbor’s house by a cinderblock fire wall. On the other side, however, there were squirrel sized gaps over the vents that run next to the rain gutter; one in the front, one in the back. Clearly, MF was coming in through the neighbor’s attic and moving into ours.

To remedy the situation, we purchased hardware cloth and some wood to cover the openings. One afternoon, we headed up into the attic, made sure MF wasn’t in there, and sealed up the holes. Bye-bye MF! Good riddance you rat with a fluffy tail.

Until last night, the hardware cloth has succeeded in keeping the wildlife in the wild and out of our attic. As I calmed down, I started to figure out that the scratching sounds I was hearing sounded like a squirrel digging at the hole that is directly over the corner of our room. Somehow, Mr. Fuzzy breeched the barrier our neighbor put up and the one that we did. And, it sounded like whatever method he had used to get in, was not allowing him back out. From the sound of it, he was scratching frantically at the hardware cloth, and not getting anywhere with it. Great MF is stuck in our attic.

The first thing that went through my mind was that London is going to get a laugh out of this. (I’m not sure what it says about me that I’m thinking about a blog friend’s squirrel problems at 3:30 in the morning.)

The second thing that went through my mind was, what am I going to do about this? I appraised the situation. It’s 3:30 am and there is a squirrel frantically trying to escape from my attic. MF is keeping me awake, but Andy appears to be sound asleep. Do I wake up Andy? If so, what is he going to do about the squirrel?

Maybe we could go up and try to pry open the cover over the hole and let the squirrel into our neighbor’s attic, and hopefully out to freedom. However, that would involve opening the pull down stairs into the attic, which might result in a freaked out squirrel escaping down the stairs. The stairs that open into the hallway, facing right into Michael’s room. You know, where Michael was sleeping at the moment. Scratch that idea.

As I was trying to come up with a better idea, MF seemed to calm down a bit. Maybe enough for me to go back to sleep and allow me to deal with this problem later. Still, I have a squirrel, which is probably really panicked and pissed off at this point, trapped in my attic. How do I get him out? I can’t let him starve to death up there. Even if that wasn’t horrendously cruel, I’m pretty sure those sharp rodent teeth could do a decent amount of damage before he became to lethargic to do anything. Not an option. Maybe one of us could try to go up during the day and open up the hole. That’s not desirable, plus it may just get the squirrel stuck in both ours and the neighbor’s attic. So, I think I may have to get my hands on a live trap and try to sneak it up there while somehow keeping the squirrel from getting loose in my house. Great.

Whatever we do, we’ll have to find the entrance route and fix it. Just the thing I want to do in a fridge attic the week before Christmas. Thank you MF, thank you.


LauraC said...

Seriously, you HAVE to fix that hole. When we had a dead opossum in our crawl space last summer, the guy also wanted to check our attic. He showed us where bats were roosting on screens that block off our attic from the elements. BATS. Actual flying rats!

Steph said...

Hmm, I tried to reply once and it did not go through so sorry if you end up with a duplicate here.

What a lovely vistor to have at the holidays! (Or Not.) Good luck getting rid of the little rodent!

Heidi O said...

Not sure what to even write. I get visits but not from rats with tails. But I do worry when I get up to pee during the summer when it is roach season.

Oops was that too much info...

Maria said...

You are too funny, and i surely thought MF stood for something waaaay more vulgar than Mr. Furry...

Deanna said...

hee hee! "MF"! hee hee HA!

Okay, I'm back now. When my grandparents had squirrels in their attic (not the same as bats in your belfry), they stuck me up there with a box of mothballs to keep them out. I think that worked. I would suggest a mask before doing that because the inhalation of naphthalene in a confined space didn't bode well with my lungs. On the other hand, have you thought about stuffing some steel wool in between the fabric?

Also, did you know that squirrels harbor fleas?

Zoey's Mommy said...

I have no advice, I just hope you can fix the problem. And soon!