The other day my wife awoke me around 5 in the morning. Since it wasn’t Wednesday, it could only mean one thing: there’s a critter somewhere in the house that needs to be “dealt with.” On this particular occasion, she didn’t need to tell me where it was since it was apparent from all of the noise directly over our bed that something was having entirely too much fun scampering about in the attic. “Wonderful,” I thought to myself, “there’s a rat in the attic.”
I read the paper while waiting for the sun to come up and then went outside to inspect the house to see if I could locate the “point of access.” I learned to do this from Bob Johnson, our pest-control guy. No matter what type of pest we call him to control, the first thing he does is find out how they’re getting in the house. You’d be surprised how many ways there are to get into your house. As humans, we tend to limit ourselves to the obvious ones, like doors, but “pests” tend to be less particular in matters regarding ingress. They come in from under the house, over the house, around the house, pretty much anywhere they please.
So it was no surprise that I found a small section of screening torn away under one of the eaves right above the gutter over our front porch and adjacent to our bedroom. “Great,” I thought, “the kids and the dog knock out the screen on the back patio and now I’ve got varmints ripping it off the roof.” Since there wasn’t anything to be done about it at the moment, I went to work.
Upon returning home, I saw that my wife had found an “official” Bob-Johnson-baited rat trap and had it waiting for me to set out for our unwanted guest. It had been over a year since Bob had actually baited it but the bait still looked fresh enough and, besides, I assume rats will eat anything. I took the trap and went to get the ladder so I could put the trap in the gutter under the hole in the screen. As I began to climb the ladder, I saw what appeared to be a twig hanging over the edge of the gutter. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be not a twig but a tail, slowly twitching back and forth. “That’s no rat!” I thought as I climbed back down the ladder to go call the wife and kids out to watch the festivities.
Yes, much to my kids’ delight and my wife’s amusement, I now had to get a live opossum out of the gutter with my bare hands. As I climbed the ladder, I surveyed the scene and weighed my options. I kept repeating my pest control mantra over and over in my mind: “WWBJD?” which stands for “What Would Bob Johnson Do?” Hmm, he’s under the eave sitting in the gutter with his tail hanging over so the obvious extraction method is going to be to grab his tail and forcibly remove him from said gutter. Once he’s out, he’s going to have to go somewhere…the wife and kids are below me to my right and the cars are directly behind me so the only place for him to go is into the bushes somewhat to my left.
“How much force should I apply?” I wondered. I have no idea what a opossum weighs and if I don’t pull hard enough, he could grab on to the edge and I’ll end up struggling with him but if I apply too much he’ll fling around behind me like a lead counterweight. In either case, I’ll end up falling off the ladder holding a live, irate opossum. With this thought, I quickly glanced at my wife to ensure she wasn’t video-taping the proceedings since the last thing I want is to end up on that “America’s Stupidest People” or whatever it is TV show. Great – no video camera. Now where was I? Oh, yes…“medium” force sounds about right.
I continued up the ladder accompanied by encouraging cheers from my wife and kids. As I slowly approached roof-level, I caught a glimpse of a nose and whiskers some 8 inches or so away from the point where the tail was protruding. “He’s somewhat larger than I expected” I thought. “Get him!” exclaimed my wife. “Yay! Daddy!” my daughter cried. “Can I go back inside to play video games?” said my son.
I was now slightly higher than the edge of the gutter and had an unobstructed view of my quarry. He was sitting in the gutter with nothing nearby that he could grab hold of so I cautiously brought my free hand up from beneath him, grabbed his tail and - before he knew what was happening - yanked (with medium force) up and out. As I had hoped, he came effortlessly free of the gutter.
Now, contrary to popular belief, opossums can't fly and they are remarkably "non-aerodynamic" despite their pointy little snouts. I tried as best I could to direct his descent towards the bushes but he had already achieved significant forward velocity so he ended up crashing through the crape myrtle before landing unceremoniously on the lawn with a resounding “thud.” Unfazed, he scampered off into the bushes. “I rule” I thought. “Hooray!” exclaimed my wife. “Yay! Daddy!” my daughter cried. “I’m going inside” said my son as I proceeded to board up the hole in the eave to prevent anything else from getting in.
So, that’s the story of how I single-handedly rid our house of the opossum. Yes, I was fearless, intrepid, bold, daring…um, excuse me…What’s that, dear? Noises in the attic again?!? Shoot! Now, what did I do with Bob Johnson’s phone number?
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