It is difficult to know where to begin with this saga as the first inkling of our close proximity to rats came about this time last year when I discovered the corpse of a dead rat in the garden. When we lived in London, the line that “you’re never more than 10ft from one” hardly impinged on my consciousness. I don’t know if it’s the compost heap that’s attracted them but in the last year or so I’ve noticed that the variety of wild life in the garden now includes some rather unsavoury members.
After the dead rat the next evidence of their existence was the chewed at bags of rabbit food that I noticed in the garage. Round one to me as I immediately put Dandelion’s favourite “Green Flake” in a cool box. I made some half hearted attempts to block the holes in the wooden door to the garage only to discover the beasts were more determined than I had imagined.
When we put Dandelion into his winter quarters inside we discovered the evidence of the rats who clearly fancied an easy billet for the winter. I blocked more holes and they chewed new ones; they were not to be denied. I entered one evening to be confronted by a fat rat (King perhaps) sitting bold as you like atop Dandelion’s hutch. This time I made damn sure I blocked every single gap in the door making sure to include stones as further barriers to their chewing. The next day I noticed fresh chews in the wood but much to my satisfaction it appeared I had defeated them.
There was sadly a flaw in this plan, as although the blockages kept them out it did not allow for the possibility that one was still inside. We fast forward here to the happy moment when the family gathers as our fake Christmas tree is brought in from the garage. I heaved the box inside and noticed immediately upon opening an odd smell and little bits of torn paper. Witnesses were summoned and the conclusion drawn was that something had been living in the Christmas tree. I pushed the possibility that the creature was still somewhere in the box and dragged it back out side. I perhaps failed to hear the echo of heavy piano chords on the sound track of my life when the possibility was mentioned that whatever was in the box might have escaped into the house. I just thought “wow, that tree is decorated with some form of pooh and it isn’t coming in my house”. The hale and hearty fellows at the dump were in for a bonus in the form of one fake Christmas tree.
I was still relaxed at this point, disappointed that the festive period had to be delayed until we had purchased a “real” tree. Perhaps the spirits of Christmas disapproved of our inauthentic pagan symbol. My mood was somewhat altered in the morning when upon entering the kitchen, I heard the distinct sound of rustling coming from under one of the kitchen units. I tried really hard to find a perfectly reasonable explanation for the sound but I was left with the realisation that something living, possibly with a long tail, was sharing breakfast with me. “Damn I wish we had a cat” flashed through my head for a moment but I soon realised in the absence of any other volunteers I would need to tackle this problem myself.
I pulled all the skirting from under the kitchen units suddenly rather conscious that a dressing gown is no outfit for pest control. I never saw anything, but there was the sound of movement and an echo of my own panic. I then opened the back door, shut the kitchen door, and dashed up stairs to change into something more appropriate, making sure that the happy sleepers were fully informed of the current state of emergency.
Frankly I had no idea how I was going to tackle this beast but I went out to the garage and selected a pair of gardening gloves and a hoe as my weapons of choice. A vision flashed through my head of luddites marching to destroy threshing machines or villagers tackling Frankenstein, not that I wish to over dramatise events. Returning to the kitchen I poked and cleared but no evidence of the creature could be discerned. Naturally at this point I was rather hoping he had fled out of the open back door but that was too much to hope for. The next morning once more I could here him scuttling behind the units and to my horror realised that he had found a route up to the floor above through a old boxed in pipe. It all went quite again until the evening when I decided to put some poison down to see if he take it. It was gone in minutes and so I put more down and by morning it had all gone. At this point I began to realise poison isn’t the smartest move as the internet provides numerous stories of the smell the rotting corpse will induce. So out I went and bought a couple of traps a “Little Nipper”, a “Super Rat Trap and a large live rat trap. All were positoned and baited with a piece of chicken while I could here our new friend moving above me.
We came close with the traps, he set one off the following day but it had failed to catch him and being smart he didn’t make that mistake again. I caught sight of him one night when I came in the kitchen dashing behind the dishwasher but other than that all went quite. Just at the point when I though he was done for he came wandering out during the day much to Gillian’s alarm. Since then no sound has been heard and I’m rather hoping that was his last hurrah. The not knowing is a bit of a pain and with guests coming for Christmas, the dilema of whether to make the fact known that our home is rat infested arises. It’s no topic for Christmas lunch that’s for sure so now I await the next problem, the smell…..will this nightmare never end?. Of course you couldn’t have a week like this without UB40’s “Rat in the Kitchen” running round your head and believe me it was no comfort. When life decides to mimic art, next time perhaps it could choose something a bit more pleasant.
I did try to bring some technology to bear on the problem with my D300. I set it on interval timing ,a feature I hadn’t used much up until now, snapping the kitchen floor once very few minutes. The rat proved a no show so enjoy a few dull snaps of underneath our kitchen units. Happy Christmas and if he pops out of the turkey on Chrismas Day I’ll be sure to blog it.