yup, that's what you think it is. the tail and hind leg of a rat. while i apologize for the squeamish nature of it, there is a bit of a house-related story behind it, that i didn't have a picture for until we found this in our backyard.
so, our house has a gable roof with a really low pitch. on the front and back ends, the attic is actually open to the outdoors, with just the latticework you can see below (back of house). months ago, in the heat of summer, we felt it would be a good idea to close those off, so as to avoid unwanted guests in our attic.
our plan of attack was to buy quarter inch hardware cloth and staple it to the inside. to make things easier, we cut them into 6 inch strips, just so that we wouldn't be trying to unroll and cut large pieces of this sharp unwieldy stuff in our not-enough-room-to-sit-up-in attic.
however, we never finished doing this! we did a few strips in the back of the house early one morning, but it was summer and it got so hot up there we had to stop. we kept meaning to get back to it, but figured no critters would nest up there in the summer heat anyway. and they didn't! and we forgot..
however, it is now fall (or maybe even winter) and the night before we left for alabama for a week, we woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of something scurrying up there. it sounded too big to have been able to get through the lattice, so we thought maybe it had just been on the roof (we've seen cats up there before). but! in the morning, we noticed that on the front of the house, there were a couple slats missing in the latticework, and a hole large enough for a cat or raccoon was definitely there.
we kind of forgot about it while we were out of town, but a few nights after we got back into town, james heard it again (this time entering from the suspected hole), and we knew we had to do something. crossing our fingers that it was a raccoon who would leave around sunset and not try and return until late at night like we'd heard twice now, we put on some ratty clothes, grabbed flashlights, a strip of hardware cloth and a staple gun, and ventured up into the attic after work.
it was a painful hour of crawling around up there on our hands and knees on rafters, trying to avoid old nob-and-tube wiring (we don't know whether it's live or not - luckily the piece my foot got caught on was not) as well as all the new ducting (we put in central heat and air! a post i haven't gotten around to..). james spent a good chunk of time making sure there was nothing up there first. then we saw the paw prints and the poop - definitely a raccoon!
anyway, we found the big hole and stapled in the hardware cloth, used some of sanford's poop bags to clean up the feces we found (luckily not too much), and got ourselves out of there. we still need to close off all the other remaining smaller holes one of these days - otherwise next thing we know, we'll have a different, smaller-sized-but-probably-more-annoying infestation..
and here's where we get to the fun part. we haven't heard anything in the attic since (all of two days..), but our yard has had a considerable amount of disturbance since (even a piece of our new groundcover dug up!). we joked that it was the angry, now homeless, raccoon. and then we found the piece of rat this morning sitting in a bucket in our back yard. so, we're pretty sure we really do have an angry, homeless raccoon running around our property at night now. on the upside, we probably don't need to worry about (live) rats.........