we found a rat living in our dryer vent and now holly’s convinced she has “rat fever”

yesterday, sunday, holly rolled up her sleeves, put on disposable gloves and started a project we’ve both been dreading: replacing our dryer vent. honestly, i don’t know why i’ve been dreading it, as i had absolutely no intention of helping her. i guess mostly i was scared of what she’d find.

i’m not gonna sugarcoat it for ya, folks. we were about 99.9% sure there was a rat living in our dryer vent. we suspected it b/c we heard loud noises from the dryer area downstairs. and then–and this part’s gross, so if you’re eating something, you might want to come back and read this later–when we turned the dryer on, we heard things rattling. we decided, with disgust, that what we were hearing was actually rat turds, and that we’d better get on the whole dryer vent situation before things got worse. 

 (if you’re wondering what rat turds in your dryer vent sound like, imagine one of those annoying “rain sticks” from the 90s, except turds, not pebbles, and in a dryer vent, not a pretty stick.)

also, when i said “we’d better get on this whole dryer vent situation” i actually meant holly. i would be supervising from the other end of the house, by the front door, specifically, so i wouldn’t actually have to see what was going to come out of the dryer vent [i.e. petrified rat (holly found a photo of a petrified rat on the internet, really upsetting), an abundance of rat turds, a live rat and the like].

i have to say that we’ve dealt with some pretty disgusting stuff since we moved into our southeast baltimore rowhouse. (note: when we bought the house in 2006 it was a bona fide boarded-up drughouse. bloodstains on the carpet, needles in the sink, the whole nine yards. we hired guys to gut it down to the 100-year-old bricks and joists and then rebuild it, from holly’s design, from the inside out. we did it in just seven months and moved in, literally, before the dust settled. important note: wait for the dust to settle before you move someplace. that expression exists for a reason.)

we’ve battled mice. (oh my gosh so many mice.) and then we had that whole situation next door. and yes, a rat actually got inside our house (behind our stairs, thru the old man’s vacant house) in nov/dec, which is basically why i went silent for a little while, in case you were wondering, as i was battling a severe rat-induced stress disorder and was either hiding upstairs in my office with the door closed all day, with holly at school (pretending to be a college student at one or more college snack shops) or out at panera drinking copious amounts of hot tea avoiding the rat, which we named eddie. he was a damn smart rat, too. (i won’t get into that here. you’ll have to buy the book i’m inevitably going to write about it to find out more.)

to lighten the mood in our home, which, of course, was actually being run by eddie, i made up a rat rap:

I’m Eddie! (pause)
Not Freddie! (pause)
I’m Eddie! (slightly longer pause)
I’m a rat! (cross arms a la run dmc)

whatever. it was funny at the time. (hey, you try coping with a home rat takeover, during daylight hours, no less. trust me, a rat rap helps.) there’s been more gross stuff, but i think i’ll stop at the mice, rat and corpse next door.

what i’m trying to say here is that not that much gets to us at this point. but i’ll tellya what: what holly found in the dryer vent actually upset us.

 here’s what she found:

chicken bones
turds
and…a crab leg.

a crab leg?!! only in baltimore, folks. only in this town will rats bring crab legs into the dryer vent they’re living in. it was terrible, and i had no business looking but i did anyway. mostly b/c holly said, “BABE LOOK WHAT I FOUND!”

anyway, i wanted to tell holly to wear a mask, but i had a headache and couldn’t get the words out. now she has a fever of 101, and she’s convinced she has “rat fever”  from breathing in “rat dust.” personally,  i think she has a cold.

i told her i wouldn’t google “rat fever” like she wanted me to,  but i did. (googling medical conditions: always a bad idea.) i learned that technically, even though she wasn’t bitten by a rat (i.e. “rat bite fever”), there’s a small chance she contracted an infection by breathing in “rat dust,” but the chances are slim unless we live in west africa, which we don’t.

in conclusion, i don’t think she’s all that sick considering she’s telling me right now to tell all of you that we have solved the “varmint” problem (i love when she calls them “varmints”) by sealing up all holes and cracks in our house, both inside and out. (it’s true; we haven’t seen a single mouse in a while and eddie’s definitely gone) so don’t be scared to come over. if you want to. which you probably don’t. but you should b/c holly’s a really good cook even tho she has a fever right now. oh hell, forget it. next i bet you’ll tell us you don’t want us to dry your clothes. sissies.

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15 responses to “we found a rat living in our dryer vent and now holly’s convinced she has “rat fever”

  1. Oh man, it never ends with that house.
    But boy, you are sure lucky to have wife like Holly. I highly doubt that Royi would EVER attempt anything like that! More likely it would be me dealing with that.

  2. omg i know. i really am lucky. it was a big job. but mostly it was disgusting. (and you’re right: it really never ends w/this house. but it sure does give me a lot of ridiculous stuff to write about.)

  3. Hahaha. This post made me laugh. We just had a 3-wk occurrence of battling mice at our house. Complicated by the fact that my husband wouldn’t let me get kill traps (Did u know it is actually quite difficult to find non-killing mouse traps?). And there were a couple of instances where they were caught, but freed themselves (both chewing through the trap or jumping out as we transferred them). Ultimately, both mice we caught were released in his warehouse at work because he was concerned it was too cold outside for them (annoying, yet very lovable trait). Seriously, from mouse trap to hermit crab cage to his work. We even had one in the cage for a couple of days because he was caught on a Friday. The kids thought it was a pet.

  4. oh. my gosh. yeah, the thought of keeping even one (of the *many*) mice we’ve caught (and by “caught” i mean killed) in a *cage* freaks me the hell out. he sounds like quite a man. i’m sure the warehouse workers really love him, esp. when they find their lunchbags chewed thru and riddled with turds. ugh i cannot stand mice. they belong outside. yes, in the cold. i know, i’m a total brute.

  5. Thankfully no warehouse workers, just storage. Evidently already had mice, so he figured they would blend in. I was all ready to release them into the wild…away from my house of course. Was ironic though that all this was going on and we watched Dinner for Schmucks. I thought that hobby was strange enough until I realized they were real dead mice. Who would do that?!?!? Oh lordy!

  6. omG that movie. i really have no words.

  7. I watched that episode on Hoarders where that guy was living with something like 2,000 rats and HE didn’t get rat fever so I don’t think Holly has it from just the turds and bones. But then again that guy probably built up quite an immunity so maybe Holly DOES have it. How high is her fever again?

  8. ha! you just cracked me up so bad, PR. i had to read that out loud to holly, who’s on the couch watching “cash cab,” drinking coconut water, asking me to make her tea and give her more blankets. she cracked up, too, but i think was scared also bc she probably has no rat immunity. her fever went down, but possibly only bc of advil.

  9. I keep meaning to ask you; is the photo of the rowhouses that lead your blog of homes along Wilkens Avenue?

  10. My ex-girlfriend and I caught a mouse at her new apartment once. Well, we sort of caught a mouse. It disappeared, and we had no idea where it went. And then Vicky scratched her leg, and a mouse scurried out from the bottom of her pajamas. I got rat fever from laughing so hard.

  11. scott: actually, no. i’d tell you but then we’d get stalkers. well probably not. anyway.
    cats: i can’t…oh my gosh. i can’t even deal with that story it’s so crazy. i’d sh*t a brick. holly’d be the one laughing her ass off getting rat fever again.

  12. I for one am utterly shocked that the crab leg wasn’t accompanied by a tiny mallet sitting on top of a tiny table covered in tiny newspaper–that newspaper about the various comings and goings in rat civilization. Then again, I might be thinking of your previous ratmate as something more akin to the Littles.

    In your querying for Rat Fever, did you by any chance come across any dance tunes circa 1976? It seems like a perfect name for one or another il-fated ditties.

  13. It’s been a rough day. My dryer smells. Badly. Like dog shit. I put on shoes and walk around to the breeze-way in my South Baltimore row-house to discover I rat disappearing into my dryer vent.
    So I turn to the wisdom of the interwebs while pondering my next step. And here you were right under Snopes on my google search, and in Baltimore too (imagine that!?!).
    Thank you for adding a bit of levity to my crappy day.

  14. Funny thing is… I goggled mice in dyer vent and found your blog.. We just moved to this new house in semi-country part of town. Never really having a mouse problem before.. Not sure how many they are, my husband is all let them be, not sure he understand the fact, mice in the home isn’t a good thing, since that’s how they grew up.. Anyways great read, the kids named the mouse Mickey since he was black.. :/

  15. I just googled ‘rat in dryer vent’ and found you in 2014! Wish you lived in Ireland and I could invite Holly over. Must get behind the dryer and deal with the whole situation but have been putting it off. You made me laugh, though, and accept that I must do it. Tomorrow. Thanks!

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