Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Rattus Norvegicus

Right, so I got the sad stuff out of my system, now let’s talk about something more cheerful.

Like…

…rats!

The car battery died yesterday (oops, sorry – I was going to steer clear of the death theme this time) and when we lifted the bonnet, there on the lifeless battery there was, no, not a rat sitting looking up at us twitching its whiskers, but certainly evidence of one.  A perfect little rat turd, in fact…  What’s Ratty been doing under our bonnet, though, I wonder?  (Apart from the obvious…)

I’ve been finding perfect little rat turds in the compost bin lately too.  He obviously likes mouldy carrot peel and  lettuce hearts.  And probably the worms that live in there too -  those rats, they’ll eat anything.  Mind you, we’ve had rats in the composter before; a nest of them one summer.   Once I opened the lid to find a rather surprised little baby – very cute.  He didn’t know what to do as he couldn’t see an escape route and got himself into a bit of a panic.  Stupidly I thought I might be able to catch him, in whatever I could find nearest to hand, which was a small bucket.  I started to try and lower this bucket over him and he went absolutely nuts, leaping up at it and, well – have you ever heard a rat scream? This one certainly knew how to make a big noise, shrieking and screeching like a thing possessed.  It sounded a little too human and I seriously worried that the next noise I would hear would be the screaming of a police siren, summoned by a neighbour fearing that a violent murder was being committed three doors down…   I gave up and left Ratty Junior to calm down and burrow back through the decomposing cabbage leaves and broccoli stalks.

Being out here in the country, surrounded by fields, it’s obvious that brown rats are everywhere.   I know they can spread disease but I think these country cousins must be fairly clean-living or surely we’d all be going down with Weil’s Disease – especially if it’s true what they say about always being within six feet of one.  It’s obvious that they’re extremely social, intelligent animals and they’re really quite a pleasure to watch.  However, not wanting them to become too comfortable round here in the past I hoped I could relocate them but my attempts at using a humane rat-trap (not a bucket) failed miserably – no amount of tempting bacon hanging inside it was going to fool these clever characters into stepping anywhere near a metal cage, it was if they knew exactly what it was for.  Unfortunately lovely Mr Blackbird didn’t, though, and one morning I found him inside, confused and exhausted but unharmed.  I was very glad to be able to release the catch and gently lift him out, whereupon he made that little clucking noise and flew off to reinstate some ruffled feathers, not to mention his pride.

Since the population of cats has quadrupled round here in the last few years I’ve seen very few rats venture into the garden, but before that they used to be quite audacious, scampering down the path, climbing up the hollyhocks and shinning up the bird table. Now it seems they’re keeping a much lower profile.  Either that or they’re so intelligent they’re secretly getting to grips with the workings of our car engine, probably gathering out there under the bonnet at night in their hordes whilst referring to a Haynes manual.  It wouldn’t surprise me.  Now, if they could just learn how to use toilet paper…



(I love this film!)

14 comments:

  1. Before we settled on the current Swede Towers, we checked out a number (a large number) of other possibles. On my list of favourites was an old former garage/post office/village shop in the middle of nowhere. The vendor had lived there with his wife for about 40 years and bristled with barely concealed pride as he showed us around. We finished our tour in the lovely little courtyard garden. He explained what a sun-trap it was and a very nice place to sit with a glass of wine on a summer's evening. Unfortunately the scene of rural idyll was suddenly besmirched by the sight of a heffing great rat shinning up the bird table in full view, right in front of us. I looked back at the old chap - the poor bloke looked instantly deflated. I swear he must have shrunk by a foot or so. Talk about bad timing!



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    1. Oh dear! I can just imagine how that man must have felt... Now, if it had been a rabbit (not climbing up the bird table obviously, but you know what I mean...) everyone would probably have gone "ahhh, how sweet!" Poor old ratty always gets a raw deal and I must say I have a soft spot for 'em!

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  2. I think I know exactly what the rat was doing under your bonnet:
    http://freakylittlethings.tumblr.com/post/40166861847/scorpiondagger-music-week#Notes

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    1. I love that! Brilliant. I'll be listening out...

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  3. Only two nights ago a large fox crossed my path on Brighton seafront, with a neatly dispatched rat hanging from its jaws. The fox looked insouciant, the rat looked like...dinner. There are absolutely loads of them living in the bushes and drains right by the beach down here. They're quite unafraid of humans, and will often indulge in a staring match with you. I wouldn't be one bit surprised if they've evolved far enough to tinker with car batteries. They probably find it a bit of a ratty laugh.

    Make sure and check your seat belts regularly...

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    1. Indeed I will...
      And if they're food for foxes down there, then that seems nicely balanced!

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  4. The back yard of our old house (well within the city limits by the way) was a front room, battle ground and love suite for a community of coons. I thought they made a racket when they were makin' time but, if you've ever heard them trying to kill one another...you'll never forget it.

    We had a few opossums in the beginning...one that was black and big as a hog.

    No mice or rats though...which in these parts is a good thing. Mice, moles, and small rats are snake food. Fortunately we had a posse of feral cats. There was no snake food for miles.

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    1. Oh, e.f. - what different lives we must lead, there you are with raccoons and opossums and snakes and feral cats - and the best I can do is a few cabbage-eating car-loving rats who are scared of buckets... ;-)

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  5. I agree I also have a soft spot for rats...very inteligent and make good pets...I am off to get my UB40 album out right now!

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    1. Glad you agree! I'd like a pet rat and a pet crow (both so intelligent!) I'd walk around town with one on each shoulder...

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  6. Ratatouille, a classic. Ah but what about 'Flushed Away'?

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    1. I've never seen Flushed Away - but if it's anywhere near as good as Ratatouille then I'm going to have to!

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  7. I thought this sounded familiar... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-21159407

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    1. Oops! We'd better get some creosote and start burning the toast in the mornings...

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