Oh Tom… Rats!

You know how I’ve been recovering, right? And if you’ve been listening to my bitching and moaning you know it’s been a shitty few months, right?

So two weeks after my surgery I happened to be in my kitchen, on crutches, when I saw, God Save the Queen… rats. As in rats, as in a lemming migration of rats flying over my back fence.

You see, there is our yard. There is our fence. There is the six-foot utility easement. There is another fence. There is another yard. And last but not least, there is a house in which lived quite possibly the most awful people on the face of the earth.

When they were at last evicted, after ten long years of misery and visits from the police and the fire department, the house sat empty for six months.

And then… and then… Two weeks after my surgery the landlord/owner decided to begin the gutting. And as I watched, generation upon generation of rats that lived in that house came flying over my fence.

I don’t have any cats anymore. And my daughter gave away her two snakes.

I screamed for Oscar who said, “Oh. They’ll go away.” He pointed. “That one’s kinda cute.”

(I hate him so. Not the rat, Oscar.)

Thus began my close relationship with my pest control guy. (I love him so.) He’s seen me at my worst. Wearing my pajamas. My hair sticking out all over. On crutches. Using a cane. And over the weeks he’s watched my progress.

He’s kind of a hottie, so…


That first week he killed eight rats.

The second week, six.

The third week, two.

Then one got in the house. Oscar’s ‘cute one‘.

Yes. That was real cute. Jake spent hours trying to dig it out from under the stove.

So my guy, yeah, I have a guy, set traps all over the house and under the house and like a million traps under the deck, plus poison bait stations because you see, the rats got smarter.

Like, they became the Rats of Nimh. They learned to avoid the traps and the poison.


I once dated this guy from South Africa and he told me that when they wanted to go out into the front yard, first they’d throw out all the deck chairs to chase off the cobras. That’s what I had to do before going downstairs in the middle of the night to get an ice bag. I’d have to throw down a shoe or a book or bounce an empty plastic water bottle down the steps.

The rats were enjoying a rave in my kitchen all night long.

And all the while, Oscar was like… It’s not so bad. They are just rats.

Just. Rats. Are you friggin’ kidding me?

Divorce is way better than living with rats. And I’d have done it if I hadn’t been recovering, in fact, I may still do it. I mean, you have no idea what I’ve been living with, or with whom.

So the pest guy kept coming. He’s the owner of the pest control agency and he said all his employees were making fun of him because he couldn’t solve our rat problem. I’m telling you, these aren’t normal rats. These rats were developed in some secret government lab…


Hawkin’s Lab, Stranger Things.

So one morning, 6 a.m., Jake and I were upstairs sound asleep, when we heard a little girl shrieking at the top of her lungs. The two of us got downstairs as fast as we could, and there was Oscar standing on the kitchen table. It seems that when Oscar entered the kitchen, that cute rat darted out of the pantry and ran right into his bare foot.

“I want poison! I want Sarin gas! I’m going to tent this house and gas it!”

“But I thought you said the rat was cute…”

“I want to kill it.”

And then a rat ate my dishwasher.

Yes, that night my dishwasher stopped working and I knew immediately it had been eaten by a rat. So I called my other guy – my dishwasher guy.

My dishwasher guy came by five friggin’ days later at 9:30 p.m. Sure enough, the rat had eaten an essential part. He replaced it and vacuumed out all the rat stuff- like a nest and shit.

The very next morning I came downstairs and saw that the rat had ripped a huge pile of insulation out of my dishwasher. And piled it neatly on my kitchen floor.

And I’m like… Goddamn it.

I called the pest control company. My guy answered. He said, “I’ll be right there.” He brought out the big guns, the sticky traps. If a rat steps in them it gets stuck in superglue. Basically. He put out maybe 20. And we had to keep the dog out of them.

Anyway, Joe (yeah, my guy and I are on a first name basis) told me to call him, even if it was late, if a rat got stuck in one of the traps. Sure ‘nuf, at 11 p.m., a rat got stuck on one of the traps under the stove and it was making an awful racket.

Oscar said, “I’m taking the dog for a walk. Bye.” And he was out the door in a flash.

So I called Joe. He came right over. Told me to sit in the living room while he took my stove apart so he could get to the rat.

And then I heard him exclaim, “Son of a bitch!”

He stomped past me.

“What?” I asked.

“You don’t want to know,” he said. He went out to his truck. Came back in. Said, “Stick your fingers in your ears.”

I did. I really did. And I closed my eyes.

When I opened them he had everything cleaned up. He said it was a huge rat. (I knew it. It was probably pregnant.) And it was stuck over the gas line to the stove. He’s right. I don’t want to know how he got it out.

As of today, we have a dozen traps under the deck. Another half dozen in the house. At least 8 sticky traps and four poison stations. We think there may be one rat left. The cute one. It’s under the deck. It seems to have nibbled some of the poison at last.

I have a plan. As soon as we remove all the traps I’m getting a big-ass king snake, one that’s been raised on live rats and mice and I’m letting it live under the deck. King snakes are native to California. I like snakes. And I’ll take a snake over rats any day of the week.


I’d get two kittens but they wouldn’t be of any help for quite a while. I’d have to get kittens because full-grown cats won’t like Jake, but kittens would get used to him.

Seriously, if I was not recovering I would be gone. I would have taken the dog and moved to Montana in a heartbeat. You do not want to live with rats. It’s horrible.

I know I’m writing to you, Tom, but this one’s for Ray.

XOXO! Julia





23 thoughts on “Oh Tom… Rats!

  1. rayplasse

    OMG…….That’s hilarious!(by the way I love Oscar)  We had some work done on our house a few years ago and there were holes all over in the walls and floors. The next thing you know……..mice………10 or twenty of em. Now they (they are kinda cute) don’t bother me but my wife is freaking out so I go to home depot and get a bunch of sticky traps! Well here I am trapping 4 or 6 of em per day. My wife was grossed out but she just wanted them the hell out. Eventually all the openings were closed up and I caught the stragglers and peace reigns once again in the Mintz-Plasse home. A snake was never an option! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. juliabarrett Post author

      Ray, a snake is always an option. Snakes for every home! Mice are kinda cute. My kids had pet mice, Chocolate and Skunky. Loved Chocolate. He was a good mouse. But no rats! Tell your wife I’m on her side. I knew this one was for you!


  2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    If it makes you feel any better (probably won’t), I’m dejunking the house partly because there’s no way for the pest control people to get at the walls where the termites need eradicating before we can sell the house. I would have kept a tidy house if I hadn’t been sick for 27 years, so you can just imagine how much stuff is going out – and there’s STILL too much stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

        At least termites don’t move very fast – and I don’t feel nearly as bad removing them from my house.

        But it should have been done before, and I simply couldn’t get to the walls – and that’s not on me. But it would have been easier. The belief is that when the neighbors kill their termites, the survivors head for the untreated houses.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. juliabarrett Post author

        I don’t know much about termites because thank god we don’t have them. Termites would be sort of adding insult to injury. 🙂


  3. Roberta

    Oh rats!!!! What a ratvolting development this is. Hope they do not come back. At least they were not of the human version. Those are absolutely positively the worst. No way to poison them either! You were lucky. I have had encounters with the human type and I do not want it ever gain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. juliabarrett Post author

      Well, Roberta, I think those people in that house were also rats. It doesn’t surprise me they had a house full of rats. Ick!


  4. anny cook

    Yep. Critters run from the exterminated home to the non-exterminated one. We battled cockroaches for months until the folks downstairs moved out (actually, most of the building moved out) and the bug guys came in and bombed the entire building. Soooo gross.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. juliabarrett Post author

      Oh Anny! I remember when I lived in Texas that the cockroaches were the size of jackrabbits and they even got in the freezer- which didn’t kill them.


  5. Jaye

    Yowza. I’m not afraid or squeamish about rats–but gawd, the destructiveness of the little bastids! Snakes are any excellent idea. They’ll clean out the nests. I’m surprised your hawks haven’t taken up posts in your yard. Would Jake tolerate ferrets? They can reach anyplace a rat can.

    Around here, the bane of my existence is squirrels, which are just rats in fancy dress. I thought they were cute until they got inside my house and began gnawing it to pieces from the inside out.

    Here’s a story idea. A woman runs off with her hottie exterminator–and the jilted husband, with his army of rats, seeks revenge!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. juliabarrett Post author

      Jaye, I think I’d prefer to read about her leaving her jilted husband with his army of rats! Ferrets are illegal in CA. Unfortunately. Squirrels got into my grandmother’s house as well, tried to eat it from the attic down. Quite a nuisance.


  6. Diana Stevan

    Oh, Julia, so sorry to hear about your rat infestation. I would be screaming 24 hours straight, would not be able to sleep. I’m such a wimp. Can’t imagine what you and Oscar and Jake have gone through. What does Jake do with all this scurrying around? I’m also aware that rats can bring disease, so glad you are taking steps to get rid of them. Glad it’s down to one. You are very brave!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. juliabarrett Post author

      Well, Diana, at first Jake chased them and tried to get them. Then he just sorta gave up and figured we’d adopted some new pets. I really hate rats. In my house, anyway. If I wasn’t still under the weather, so to speak, I would have moved out.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. T. W. Dittmer

    When I was a kid I had a dog that could kill rats so quick it was a wonderment. He’d run them down, grab them by the neck and, with just a flip of his head, snap their spine. Me, I’d run them down until they were cornered and stomp them. They’d try to get nasty when they were cornered, but I was bigger than they were.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. juliabarrett Post author

      Ick! But good for your dog. I bet he was some sort of terrier. When I was a kid we had a rat terrier. I don’t think I could stomp on anything unless it was about to bite me. You’re a brave man, Tim.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Marylin Warner

    I loved the KARMA of Oscar finally feeling the fear, Julia. 🙂
    One of my best friends was in the final stages of buying a delightful B&B in Salida, CO. It was a charming 5-bedroom, 4-bathroom Victorian with private quarters on the first floor for the owners, and the price was surprisingly low. The sellers said at their ages they just couldn’t handle the severe winters, but when the inspection was done they learned the real reason. Rats. Dead ones that died of poison, AFTER they had eaten the poison and crawled into the walls. The contract was canceled and the earnest money returned… ;(

    Liked by 1 person

    1. juliabarrett Post author

      Oh, ugh, Marylin! Gag! I’m sure the B&B was quite a delight! You know, my kids had pet gerbils and pet hamsters and pet mice, but I do not allow wild animals into my house other than the occasional baby bird. Just ain’t happening for me. I’m glad your friends got their money back!



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