ST. PAUL, Minn. - It's the kind of basement story that would make anyone cringe.
“When I came down to do laundry, I saw a rat coming out of the toilet," said Alicia Hoving. "I thought it was a muskrat because it came out and it was about a foot and a half, two feet long."
After she and her roommate got over the initial shock, they called an exterminator to their home near I-94 and Mounds Blvd in St. Paul. They then took some advice and duct-taped their toilet seat closed.
“And it hasn’t been lifted since," Hoving said.
Unfortunately, the rats soon found another way in, through a PVC pipe a few feet away.
"They chewed right through it," she said.
Soon the rats were chewing through whatever they could on the main floor of the home.
"They were up here, on the counter top, eating food," said Hoving's roommate.
"The rats tried to chew through the linoleum on top of the (parrot) cage," Hoving said. "So that's why we moved our bird upstairs on the second floor."
After another call to an exterminator, they managed to seal the entrances, eliminate food sources and kill six large rats. They also learned that heavy rains, paired with recent construction to replace old culverts, were what was likely to blame for the forced entry in the first place.
"The root of the problem is typically in the sewers," said St. Paul Animal Control Supervisor Molly Lunaris.
That's why, in addition to calling in exterminators or pest control companies, Lunaris says homeowners who find rats should put a call in to her office.
"We know that at the point people are seeing them in their house, there's probably a larger problem that's not contained to that individual house," Lunaris said. “We do have crews that go out and place poison in the sewers and follow up until we see no more signs of rodents.”
That's exactly what Hoving did after speaking to KARE 11. The animal control officer she spoke to said they would be by on Thursday to put poison in the sewers below her home.
Though she believes their problem has been addressed, she is hoping others take note.
"They may not know that they have a rat living down in their basement," Hoving said. "We've lived through it."
If you would like to report a rat issue in St. Paul, call Animal Control at 651-266-1110.