Unwanted guests take up residence in the attic

I’m awake before the sun has breached the horizon on this Friday morning — thanks to the pitter-patter of little rat feet, which have been scurrying above my head for the last few months now.

As if it isn’t bad enough having herds of gophers marauding out in the yard or little families of mice making forays into the kitchen cabinets, now we’ve got what sounds like the cast of a Pixar film running a bistro in the attic.

It all started back in the spring when Mr. Big Seventh-Grader found one of the rodents in the garage, which wasn’t all that surprising because, first, we live in a rural area, and, second, the garage door was wide open.

We managed to somehow corral the thing in a trash can before escorting it out to the driveway, where it leaped two feet straight into the air and went scurrying off toward the neighbor’s empty field.

Problem solved — or so I thought.

That was until a few weeks later, when I noticed some unusually large, un-mice-like droppings under the house where, god knows why, we have chosen to store the can of chicken feed, whose accompanying coop is just outside.

Further investigation revealed a full-on nest tucked into the drawer of the dismantled crib stored down below with other miscellaneous items.

It was a rather cozy and tidy abode created of newspaper, which puzzled me until I found the chewed-up remains of a paper-mache art project also stashed nearby.

So now, not only were we offering a smorgasbord of spilled chicken feed, we also inadvertently had supplied them with all the building materials a needy mother rat could hope for.

Following this discovery, I dutifully deployed an arsenal of traps slathered with peanut butter and began to have success. This was satisfying.

Then we began to hear noises above. This was not satisfying — at all.

So I set traps up there as well, with much less luck.

While I’ve managed to catch six or seven below — including several youngins — I’ve only nabbed one above.

I’ve climbed up and poked around multiple times, but it’s so jam-packed with ducting and insulation that moving about is quite a chore.

It’s also mystifying, because from down here, it sounds like the rats are running relay races over bare drywall, from one corner of the ceiling to another and back. But when you get up there, you don’t see how this could be possible at all, as there are barely any exposed flat surfaces upon which any wall-to-wall scampering could be performed.

At this point, it’s been going on for several weeks, and I’ve become ruefully attuned to the sound like a mother to her crying child. It can wake me up from a dead sleep. Lovely.

The cats, too, are intrigued by our unwanted guests and perch on shelves and dressers cocking their ears toward the odd noises.

When I take out the ladder and climb up into the attic, the more adventurous one follows right up to the top step, pondering whether to make a leap into the darkness above.

I’d love to turn him loose on the problem, but I’m afraid I’d never see him again, it being all warm and cozy up there with clouds of spun fiberglass. He could curl up and make a home there as well.

So, here we are, and I’ve run out of ideas save for calling in the professionals.

I was hoping to avoid that, but I’m sure they know something I don’t.