Friday, 4 December 2015

Oh, rats! (part II)


There is a reasonably grim photograph of an expired rat at the end of this post.
If that kind of thing makes you cry, look away now. Think about pandas and butterflies and kittens in cardboard boxes and stuff. Not all three at once. You'd never get a panda in a box, not with a cat chasing a butterfly around in there already.
If, like us, you're a bit morbid and that kind of thing doesn't really bother you, feel free to skip all of the following words and go right to it. It's near the bottom.
I guarantee you'll wince and say: "oooo, right through the head".

A few years ago the Water People decided to renew a load of underground pipework right outside our old house and across the whole estate.
It was weeks and weeks of carnage - diggers, mud and chain-smoking monobrowed neanderthals everywhere from 9.01am until 4.59pm exactly, with about seven hours off for lunch.

Presumably unrelated, at the same time we spotted a new squirrel in the garden.
A couple of times a day we'd see him running across the fence at the back, often carrying acorns or bread from a nearby bird table, and once or twice we saw him burying his nuts in one of Dawn's long-dead pot plants. He was a grey, yeah, but we quite liked him.

This is the cute non-disease-carrying face of the Rat PR Machine, as spearheaded by Disney-Pixar.
Don't believe the hype.
At the same time both of those things happened, we started hearing noises in the loft. To be totally accurate, we started hearing noises in the kitchen cupboards, up the cavity walls and in to the loft.
Being a semi-detached bungalow our neighbour (Chris) also started hearing things going bump in the night and was getting quite concerned. But that was okay because there was a new squirrel in our garden so it was obvious that it was him getting up there. He'll nod off for the winter and never bother us again. Nothing to see here. Move on.

A month later and driven to the point of nocturnal distraction by Colin, as we'd named him, I ended up freaking out and found myself sitting in the pitch black loft with my air rifle at the ready, presumably waiting for a house-trained glow-in-the-dark squirrel to come bounding by and pause helpfully while I lined up my shot.

The turning point came when I was midway through thumping the bedroom ceiling at 4am in an attempt to scare it to death while Dawn muttered extremely rude words at me in her sleep. My lovely wife is a somewhat determined sleeper and nothing much wakes her but she can still do most everyday things while totally zonked-out. Including driving to work. It's astonishing.

Anyway, it was at that moment it occurred to me... what am I doing?

Still convinced it was a squirrel we ended up calling A Man With A Trap who basically told us to stop deluding ourselves - we had rats which had probably moved in because of the water works outside.
Half a dozen generous doses of poison later, some in the loft and some under the kitchen cupboards, Colin the SquirrelRat's fate was sealed. We never heard from him again and there was no poisonous smell/fly combo either, which would have been a big problem in our little house. I often picture him on a beach in the Bahamas sucking on a pineapple chunk and preening his sun-bleached whiskers.

I'm telling you this tale to illustrate how much we've changed since then.
The recent cold snap here at The Lodge has brought with it kitchen ceiling invaders, scampering around over the woodwork and skittering over the lath and plaster.
Of course by 'scampering' and 'skittering' what I actually mean is 'partying' and 'caber-tossing'. I swear I even heard music at one stage.
Our reaction this time, rather than having a screaming fit and calling the Army, was to barely shrug our shoulders and carry on making tea. We've turned so... so... so Country.

At first, still clinging on to my squirrel-based naivety, I convinced myself we had mice and set a wee trap just inside the tiny ceiling hatch, baited with the only available lure in the house - lemon curd on a bit of bread.

Of course the bread vanished without the trap being sprung, so there was only one thing for it. No more Mr Nice Muz. Out came the rat trap for the second night..

Dawn liked his "pretty" fur
I liked how his eyeball didn't explode all over the place

Weirdly, although rats are gregarious mammals that hang around in herds, this fella appears to have been by himself. We've had no more noises in the ceiling, the new trap we have up there hasn't been sprung in a week and all of our remaining lemon curd is still in the fridge.

Finding how he got in will be a challenge for another day, but because the suspended ceiling is so small and packed with rockwool insulation it's going to be impossible to get up there.
The only reasonable point of rat access that I can see is the drainpipe running up the kitchen wall outside. I'll check it out when I get around to it because we don't want his mates launching search parties and moving themselves in too.

One was enough, thank you very much.

EDIT (just a few hours after this was first posted)
It has taken me a week to get this blog post written and uploaded, and as fate would have it I'm standing in the kitchen right now where I can hear movement in the ceiling. Terrific. This could well turn out to be a saga.

1 comment:

  1. I'd just like to say that life in the Bahamas is just great! Shame you only just thought of the lemon curd though, that would have been nice. Anyway, must dash, the barman has a drink and some pineapple with my name on it!

    Chin chin, Colin :D


Thank you for your comment!
It might take us a wee while to spot it in the moderation queue, so please bear with us. We might be a bit busy.