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