Saturday, November 11, 2006

Eeek! A rat!

The other night we were woken up at 4 AM by scratching noises coming from the top of our bedroom closet. A mouse! We banged on the closet door and the scratching ceased, but we were far from relaxed!

For those of you who know Koshka who are wondering how a home with a cat can have a mouse in it, let me explain the word boydem. The boydem is a kind of crawl space under the ceiling, common in Israeli apartments. Usually located over the bathroom, it provides some additional out-of-the way storage space. Or, as the joke universal to olim goes, a place to hide a Jewish family.
(My former roomate and I used to have conversations like this:
"Hey Josh, do we have any more toilet paper?"
"I think so. Let me check with the family."
"Cool, thanks.")

In our apartment, the boydem is accessed through a door in the laundry mirpeset or porch. You need a ladder to get up to the door. I store Passover dishes there, Koshka's traveling cage, and for about a year a huge duffel bag belonging to Carla. Our boydem connects to an air vents for the heating and cooling system that reaches into the hallway over the dining area. Another route leads to the top of our built-in bedroom closet and out an air vent there, again for heating and cooling. So a small creature that gets into the boydem, say, by jumping from a tree onto a little, screened up window in the boydem, could have quite a nifty little playground throughout the air shafts, separated by vertical space and a floor from the killer cat below.

That's what happened.

We sent Koshka up to the high reaches of the closet. Some quiet moments later, as expected, she came crashing through the big air vent in the hallway. It's a plastic grid backed by a screen, not big enough to support her weight. While it's cool seeing that cat landing on feet thing, it's kind of a pain to restore the cover to the vent.

No sign of dead mousy.

So Thursday I went to Home Centerrrr after work to buy a trap. Adi had experience with mouses in houses from his parents house and told me what to buy. But confronted with the scary looking metal cages, I opted for a set of glue pads on Styrofoam trays. "No bait needed!" they boasted. "Throw away after use!". At 10 NIS for a pack of two, they seemed like a great bargain.

That night Adi added some cheese to the glue for extra incentive and within a short time, there was scampering again! Adi set Koshka up there again for extra help. Adi reported seeing a long tail stuck in the glue, but the body of the beast had worked itself into a cardboard shoe box (probably holding letters from my ex-husband). Koshka was focused.

I escaped to the guest room and closed the door. It's silly but I was very worried about Koshka, especially when Adi shut the closet door. She's 9 years old, full-figured, and, well, not really so wild. But Adi assured me that she was at least 20 times bigger than the intruder and that she'd know what to do. I reasoned that she'd call me if she needed help, and went to sleep.

In the morning, I heard a little meow from our bedroom and opened the door to find a happy, purring Koshka who had apparently opened the closet door and jumped down. It had been a quiet night. Adi bravely inspected both traps and found evidence of a struggle on each. He spared me a peek at the stuck hairs. It was clear thought that we were dealing with a bigger beast than the cute little mousy I'd imagined!

Koshka seemed extra sleepy on Friday, so we like to believe that she bravely backed the rat into a corner at least and stood threateningly over him all night long.

Friday afternoon, Adi drove to his parents and borrowed three metal traps. He set one in the closet, one in the boydem proper, and one just inside the still-open air vent in the hallway. We slept in the guest room again (there is no boydem or air vent over the bed there).

The night was quiet, but alas, our intruder eluded the traps! Either that or he escaped.

Needless to say this situation makes for some less than peaceful sleeping. And someone who is not pregnant is going to have to deal with a bunch of messy mouse doodies before the baby comes. Yichk!

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