The Real Reason I Needed
To Cap Off
My Garage-To-House Conduit
In December 2004 I began to
hear the sounds of a mouse crawling above the kitchen ceiling.
My bedroom is above the kitchen, and at night I would often
hear this scurrying sound below the floor. It sounded too loud
to be a mouse, actually. In the laundry room adjacent to the
kitchen, I noticed that the dog food bag
was torn to shreds. The critter would spring my mouse traps
but would not get caught. I figured it was a chipmunk, since I
knew chipmunks liked dog food. I also realized that the
uncapped 4-inch pipe I had installed between the house and the
garage was the animal's entry "vector", since mice
and larger rodents could easily get into the garage.
So I bought some big mouse
traps, I guess they're usually called rat traps. Here in the
cold north people buy rat traps to catch animals like
squirrels and chipmunks. I've never known anybody who bought a
rat trap to actually catch rats.
I began a frequent and
diligent effort of monitoring the traps and making sure the
bait (dog food) had not been stolen. It became frustrating
because I could hear this critter crawling around almost every
One night in January I awoke
about 3 A.M. to hear a ruffling sound in the bathroom closet,
which is just behind my bed. I leaned up in bed to listen, and
then CRASH. Something fell off the closet shelf. In the dim
glow of the night light I saw a gray-brown blur zip past my
nightstand and under my bed. I was so startled, I thought my
heart was going to explode. I grabbed a flashlight and
searched for the creature. Fully awake, I set more traps. This
time I used buckets of water with small pieces of foam
insulation, baited with peanut butter and dog food. For weeks
I monitored the traps, but the bait remained.
In February I returned home
from a week away. I checked all three rat traps. One had been
tripped, but there was no critter. The next morning I woke up
early, about 6 A.M., which is quite rare for me, especially in
the middle of winter when it remains dark until after 7 A.M. I
went downstairs and had my usual long breakfast. I did some
work on my computer, which had been parked on the kitchen
table instead of my office upstairs. Around 9 I went back
upstairs to have a shower. Just before stepping into the
shower, I walked into the adjoining "big" bathroom
to turn up the thermostat for the floor heat, so the marble
floor wouldn't be so cold when I stepped out of the shower. I
turned to go back into the small bathroom, but I noticed
something out of place. In front of the tub in the big
bathroom, there was something on the bath mat. The critter.
The chipmunk was laying there dead. Yikes. I did a double
take. Wait a second, that's not a little chipmunk, that's a
big 'ol r-a-t. My skin crawled. I hollered "A RAT... A
****ing RAT". I was absolutely surprised by my reaction.
I had never heard a grown man scream so loud. Of course, I was
standing there, without a stitch of clothes, and my next
reaction was to cover my "personal department" with
my hands. And all the while I was screaming like a cross
between a ten-year-old girl and Richard Pryor. "Son of a
b**ch!... Damn... S***" I carried on for probably five
Now, half of you folks are
saying "B.F.D., a rat... so what?". But you need to
see things from my perspective. I grew up in Northern Ontario.
It's cold. Houses are well sealed against drafts, and rodents
don't survive the winters, at least not in my old
neighborhood. I never even saw a live mouse until I was
in my twenties... there just weren't that many rodents around.
I had heard of rat problems in some cities. I had lived in
some larger cities. But I never encountered a rat. At the age
of 42, I had never seen a rat, dead or alive, except in pet
stores. I wasn't surprised to see a critter in the house, I
was just shocked by the fact that it was laying dead on the
bath mat, and the fact that it was a rat, a totally foreign
But the way this rodent lay
on the bath mat was bizarre. It looked like it was just
sleeping. One back foot was bloody, which made me suspect that
it had gotten caught in the trap and pulled itself free. Then
it must have bled to death, but not before crawling onto the
bath mat. In hindsight, it really was a very considerate rat.
It had been living under the bathtub, and it could have died
there and made an awful smell. But it chose to die out in the
open, which is very thoughtful, if a rat can be thoughtful.
And I realized that I had
walked directly over this critter at least once, and possibly
twice, that morning. Barefoot too. Eeeew!
Bruce W. Maki, Editor.