There was a soft scratching sound. Or maybe a weird breathing. Was that my husband? Why was he being so annoying at 4 am on a Sunday? And then I heard him say something…as the noise happened. And I realized he was worried, too. It was something…above us?! On the roof?? Oh sweet goodness, don’t let there be something in the attic.
But then the noise stopped and the day happened, and I sort of put it out of my mind. As the afternoon came around I needed some cardboard boxes that had been stored in the attic in order to pack up dishes for our kitchen remodel. I casually pulled down the ladder and climbed up. I hesitated for a moment when I stepped into the attic and thought to myself, “I don’t see any signs of a-” and that’s when I saw him. Looking right back at me. Beady little eyes and a furry little face. I jumped down the ladder and closed it back up so quickly I almost injured myself. There was no denying it. We had a squatter.
When we were buying a house a few years and a few jobs ago we had fallen for one in a wonderful neighborhood where most homes were beyond our reach financially, but a foreclosure brought it onto our possibilities list. We toured it…and noticed some large areas of discoloration on the vaulted ceiling in the living room. The realtor casually mentioned the words “raccoon latrine” and mentioned that raccoons were a protected species in that state and could not be killed. And that they always returned to their nest. Forever. And so would their babies. Forever. I don’t know how true all of that information is…but I do know that in order for a “latrine” to soak through insulation and ceiling board enough to be a deeply discolored brown…things had gone horribly awry. And we ran. We vowed never to think about that raccoon nest again.
But I thought about it when I was on the phone with our exterminator minutes after my feet hit the floor. The kind man on the other end of the phone said he would, regrettably, not have his wildlife license for two months. I told him that I was hoping to no longer be in need of his services two months from now, and he graciously pointed me toward another company. Whom I called immediately. I left a message and waited for them to open on Monday morning. When they had not called back by 8:01 am I called again. Fortunately they could fit me in that same morning, and Joe from Critter Control climbed his ladder up and confirmed our point of entry on the front of the house. We began our strategy session.
Joe looked nervous as he told me that North Carolina is a “kill” state for rabies carrying species. I am a mother of 5 and was wearing my “blessed” t-shirt, and so he may have thought I was a more merciful soul than I am. “Kill trap. Perfect, Joe. Let’s kill them all.” He was concerned for my kids. “Nope. No problem, Joe. I will explain murder…I’m not afraid. In fact, if we could leave a pelt hanging from the point of entry as a warning to any future varmints that we don’t mess around…that would be great.”
Unfortunately my mercenary was not available to begin Operation Terminator until the following morning…but we had a plan. I could be at peace.
So tomorrow my lovely home will have a raccoon trap hanging from the front rafter. And I will monitor for a body. Joe mentioned that about 99% of the time the traps kill…and that other 1%…that scenario will involved screaming (both me and the raccoon, I assume), an immediate phone call to my buddy Joe, and a baseball bat on a ladder. Joe is going to make sure the deed is done.
And so I wait. Am I happy that there is a raccoon still currently in my attic. No. Do I feel a slightly sick sense of joy that by this time on Wednesday there may be a dead one dangling from the front of my house. Yes. Yes I do. Take note neighborhood rodents. We don’t mess around.
As a minor note, I asked Joe if he needed to see into the attic, and he adjusted his hoodie (was he nervous?) and mentioned that perhaps that could wait until we caught the raccoon. After all, it could be standing on the ladder and then when I pulled it down…land on his face. Thank you, Joe, for that vivid nightmare. I will treasure it always.