For The Birds

Exciting announcement time: The Heated has two new designs for sale. They're both bird-themed and both designed by Brooklyn's very own Nicole Martin. Nicole, like me, has a day job but just so happens to have other talents as well. I'd requested designs from her a long time ago and Party Bird was among them. When she came to visit me recently, I specifically requested that she draw me a Ratbird. "Why a Ratbird?", you ask. Let me tell you the story.

We had a mouse problem in my apartment. It started out quietly. That's kind of what mice are known for. Anyway, we didn't realize that we had a mouse until last winter when we saw one run across our kitchen floor. He was getting in from behind a built-in cupboard. I went in and sealed it up and figured that would be the end of that. There are a few things about this that I now find unbelievable. The first is how we thought there was just one mouse. Because they're known for their solitary behavior? The second is that this apartment is very, very old and had so, so many more holes than the one behind the built-in cupboard.

Anyway, we didn't hear anything for a while. A month went by. Two months. Then, one day I came home from school and caught another mouse running across the kitchen floor, hiding behind the oven, then dashing into our pots and pans cupboard. I searched the apartment further, found more holes and sealed them up. I consulted with my upstairs neighbors who were also spotting our friends and went through with some plywood, steel wool and nails and sealed up the crazy, gaping holes they had in their floorboards (why?). One day, a mouse ran across our dining room floor and I saw it dash into what can only be described as a cartoon mouse hole.

We started hearing them in the walls at night, scratching. One night we heard them desperately clawing around a pipe in the bathroom to gain entry to our house. We got up and banged on the wall until they scurried away. The next day I examined the hole and tried to patch it up but couldn't due to the sink vanity that couldn't be moved. I realized that drastic measures had to be taken.
I couldn't sleep. By this time, it was summer. Six months we'd lived with this. We were set to go on vacation in July and I was terrified to leave because they would have unfettered access through both the bathroom pipe entryway and through the pocket doors in our bedroom (shudder). I went to what I knew was the source of the problem: the basement.

Upon inspecting the basement, with its gaping holes leading directly into the walls beneath our bedroom, the same walls where we could hear them scurry, I felt hopeless. It was filled with so much junk that there were parts we couldn't reach. But I staked out my prey by leaving out snap-traps that were baited but not set. Once they took the bait and got comfortable with the traps, I started setting them. I caught two. We had an exterminator come out. He gave snap-traps to us and our neighbors. Our upstairs neighbor caught eight. Eight! EIGHT! Poison went out. The junk in the basement got taken to the dump (which was so much fun, by the way, other than the mouse-pee smell). But with the gaping holes in the basement ceiling not filled, it was all pointless and our landlord was dragging her feet. We went on vacation and found signs of them everywhere when we returned.

I'm not going to lie, by this point I was completely traumatized.
I couldn't sleep. I would lie there awake, listening for the slightest movement. One night, I heard a screeching. "Eeeeeee. Eeeeeeeeeeeee." By this point, I knew that rats couldn't be far behind. That's how the food chain goes. So, in my mind, the mice were no longer my problem. It was the inevitable rats we had to fear. And I did fear them. Mice are one thing but rats are no joke. They're smart. Much smarter than mice.

"Eeeeeee. Eeeeee. Cristeeeeeeeeeeeeeena." It kind of sounded like a bird, this strange noise. But it also had a rat-ish quality to it. My mind tried to classify this noise but all I could picture was a little rat with wings, serenading me, which sounds cuter than it felt. I bought a set of earplugs.
I also waged a campaign of appealing to the emotions of my landlord and finally, last month, the holes were sealed up. The problem had already been slowly tapering off and now that the holes have been sealed, our apartments are mouse-free. We haven't seen any further signs of their existence. I still can't put on my shoes without looking in them first though. In time, maybe I'll learn to let that go. My wife discovered the source of the noise: it was a metal street sign rubbing against it's fasteners. Not a ratbird at all. I sleep much better now.