We bought our van a year ago next month. Growing children and a small beat up Honda Accord were becoming increasingly difficult. Every time we had company I had to squeeze in the back between both children because I was the only one that could successfully fit. Sticking my husband back there wasn’t an option. In order to fit, he had to wedge himself in sideways between the seats and let those long spider legs hang through the little passage between the front seats so he could practically help the driver. After getting in and out from back there after a weekend of company, my thighs looked like they were used for punching bags rather than a trip to the grocery store.
But the final straw, the final push to convince my husband to purchase our van was that wedding season was only a month away and we had to have a vehicle that could transport large wedding cakes to venues. And oh what a difference it has made!!!
We ended up with a Toyota Sienna and it just happened to be a lovely green. Jonah’s favorite. It had everything we’d been praying for for the past two years and more. The kids named him ‘Vanney’ and he has become part of the family. He dings at you if you take off your seat belt expressing that he’s mad at you. He opens his door for you only when the he’s stopped because he cares about you and he turns off the front passenger air bag so that Jonah can ride to school in the front seat because he likes to have him there. It is so cute how my children have given this van a personality.
This winter was cold. Record breaking cold. The kind of cold that killed off our bushes cold and the kind of booger sticking to the inside of your nose cold.
This cold drove many little critters into the walls of our bathrooms and our garage and in the early spring we started to notice that things in the garage had been chewed. Mid-winter we actually began to smell that smell that means only one thing… death. And after a lot of searching we found it. A bloated, rancid, maggot filled rat behind the washing machine!!! I made my husband clean that up with about 4 bottles of bleach. Still creeps me out.
Then the inevitable. There was a rat in the van! And I found it out in the worst way. I had a box of cookies in the back of the van overnight. When I got in to drive the next morning the rat had drug a cookie all the way up from the back to the gas pedal and ate what it could. It was a 4 inch round cookie!
After close inspection, we discovered the rat had been chewing up various things in the glove compartment, carpet under the seats and had built some sizable nests in the air filters. That explained the strange smell I’d been detecting all winter.
My husband loves Vanney. He treasures the thing. He cleans it out often. Spends lots of time taking care of it. I think he’s in love with the fact that it simply makes life so. much. easier. And that it has bells and whistles.
You should have seen his reaction to a rat chewing up his beloved Vanney. A glaze of hatred and disgust came over his face when he realized the horror that this little rodent was doing to his van!
We immediately took a trip to the co-op for rat traps and within a few days we caught her and her friends. Every time the kids begged to play with the dead rats. Disgusting! True love is blind? Something weird like that.
For now the wild rat problem is gone. I haven’t heard them in the walls for a while now and although I know they are still roaming about outside, I’ve seen no evidence of them in the garage. Whew. What a mess, but it’s under control right?
Jonah has been asking for some time now to get a snake. A Ball Python to be exact. I have no opposition to snakes. Well, the ones with no venom. I don’t do rattlesnakes. I almost adopted a Ball Python years ago when volunteering at Wildlife Images.
We told Jonah that he would wait until he was 8 to adopt his snake. It gave me a little time to research them and figure out how to successfully keep a reptile like this alive and well. Of course we got the opportunity to adopt one much sooner than planned and we are now the proud owners of a beautiful 3 year old male Ball Python whom Jonah named Skip. I can go into more detail about Skip later, but I will say that it has helped improve Jonah’s behavior in very positive ways. It is similar to the effect of a child getting his first dog. There’s a special connection there between the two that I don’t really understand because… it’s a snake. It’s not affectionate. It’s. a. snake. But for some reason it works for Jonah and he’s head over heals in love with this snake and he’s doing better in school. Go figure.
So, this snake eats mice. We’re told it eats two mice once a week. I decided to buy it a rat for it’s first meal. Fatten him up and make him happy. We get him this expensive feeder rat and he doesn’t want to eat it. Maybe he was too nervous being in a new place? Maybe the rat was too big? Whatever the reason, the rat didn’t get eaten. Instead, my friend Melissa comes over and starts loving on the rat. And that was it. The rat is now ‘my’ pet! I named her Nibbles and I LOVE her!
In the mean time we bought Skip two stupid dark mice (we were told she likes the dark ones). I put them in a tall box overnight because Skip wouldn’t eat them either. They stank and were ugly enough not to become beloved pets. Overnight, they escaped into the garage!!! Hadn’t we just had this problem a month ago with the rats?? The following day, I see that our cat Jazz has caught one of the mice and consumed it. A few days after that Jonah found the other one looking for food in the driveway! Domesticated mice are not smart. Lucky snake got to eat that one.
So I decided my precious rat needed a better cage and a friend. I found a great rat condo on craigslist and when I went to buy it the guy gave me a really cute baby white rat with black eyes. Yay. My husband was just thrilled with that. Little did he know I had plans for one more. I’d already set up a time to meet with the lady and she was also bringing me farm fresh eggs. No way I could turn that down. So yes, one more rat. A little dumbo baby and it was oh so cute!!!
We kept that one a secret for a little while. My husband found out when he told me ‘only 2 right’ and I just looked at him. Then I told him to look in the cage and count the rats. Yep… he LOVED the little dumbo. Ha!!
That’s it. No more. NO more drama. I got multiple rats to stop my kids from fighting over my Nibbles and they still fight over them all. There’s just no winning. I get an expensive, beautiful, exotic snake and the kids fight over it’s food. You just can’t win! It’s just like buying an expensive toy so they can play with the box.
So there are still rats in the garage. They have just changed from vermin to pet status and are now cute and cuddly and not destined for rat traps because they live in a rat condo. We are slowly growing into a petting zoo. What can I say? I have loved animals from the time I was born and my daughter has taken on the same adoration for them. The next step is to move to a hobby farm!
As for the van? The air filters have been replaced and the only bad smells inside of it are related to congealed milk cups hiding under the seats or from wet clothes forgotten in the back. Normal kid smells, not bad animal smells 😉 And as we quickly approach a year with our Vanney I often think about those long trips in that little Honda and am amazed how we ever coped. Our van is a true blessing as are our new additions to our household. Life is a journey. You might as well fill it with what you enjoy and for us that means lots of animals and frequent trips away from those animals!!!