Somebody fell down inside the chimney the day before yesterday. And no, it wasn’t Santa Claus! 😀 The critter landed on the closed damper, a pretty precarious spot, flailing and scratching around.
Pretty sure it wasn’t a bird, because it would have chirped sooner or later. And a cat probably would have meowed. Maybe. It sounded like it was about the size of a cat, though.
Most probably, I figured, it was a roof rat. The chimney supposedly has screening over the top to keep the locals from tumbling or crawling or flying in there. But it may have worked loose over the years.
Anyway, I didn’t want to open the damper and try to catch it, because the prospect of getting bitten by a rat is not very appealing. So I figured if it was trapped in there, it would die fairly soon, because the exterior temps got up around 105 yesterday. Without water, even a rat will croak over in that heat.
By yesterday morning, I couldn’t hear anything in there. So I opened the damper lever, and lo!
No critter. Was it trapped behind the damper? The thing opens upward against the wall of the chimney… But no, I don’t think so.
That confirms my suspicions that it was Ratty. She probably was stunned by falling 12 or 15 feet but eventually regained her rat-equilibrium. Once she got over her panic and regained her rat senses, she just walked right back out.
Roof rats can climb right straight up a wall. Check this out this little guy:
That’s how they get into the attic: up the wall, and then in through a hole as small as a 50-cent piece.
Anyhow, Ratty got out of the chimney on her own. I’ve called the handyman and will ask him, if he will, to climb up there and secure the screening over the chimney, and also send him into the attic to check all the vents up there. I may have him sprinkle some mothballs near the openings to the attic, too.
Rats, like cats, are averse to the stinky stuff in mothballs. So, of course, are humans, as this fella points out. However, it sounds like you could put a small amount of the stuff in an attic near the vent openings, where the smell would dissipate into the outside air. And since the critters usually get into the house through the attic openings, this would go a long way toward convincing them to find another home.
BTW, if you decide to try the Mothball Solution, don’t sprinkle any of it where your own pets can get into it. Mothballs are toxic to cats, and they probably aren’t very good for dogs. And since humans aren’t fond of the parfum de naphthalene, either, don’t go overboard with the things in the attic, the crawlspace, or the basement. From this guy’s video, it looks like just a little sprinkle near potential rat entrances will do the job. You really don’t want mothball fumes in your house.
Be aware that the ingredients in mothballs are flammable. Do not sprinkle or store them anywhere near a device that has a pilot light!
For small holes a distance above a roof or attic floor, try plain old steel wool. Rats hate steel wool. So if you have holes that are too big to fill with plastic wood or DAP but not too huge (and are located in an unobtrusive place, such as under the eaves), stuff them full of steel wool. You can buy it in gay abandon at a hardware or warehouse store. Or you could order up a roll of this stuff, guaranteed not to rust.
Heh heh heh…some people think rats are pets. In that case, you’re likely to discover just how startling these weird little animals are…