Rats Tales

Something has been eating the fruit in the fruitbowl, and it’s not me. In fact, it’s not any us. Well, no human, at any rate…

fruit bowl 2But I think I’ve said it somewhere before: a rodent doesn’t seem quite so bad, if you put the word ‘native’ in front of it. Even so, there is a fine line of acceptability, and it’s generally respected until we go away for several days at a time. And then presto – it’s open house (oh, the joys of living in an old house with gaps).

I should quickly add here that that photo above is from a recent stint where there were no humans or dogs present in the house for 5 days. Until then, I was aware of their presence only under the floorboards and in the roof cavity when the clock struck around 6.30pm in the evening, and their internal alarm bell kicks in.

And then it’s like listening to fingernails on a keyboard, but amplified 200 times. Scuttle scuttle scuttle, backwards and forwards across the house beams (one friend who also lives in an old house particularly enjoys being woken by the sound of her dog’s chewed bones being dropped down the wall cavity); across the foil insulation under the house [the very same foil insulation which we put in 4 years ago after being reassured by the manufacturer that “no, there have been no cases of [native] rodents nesting on the foil’. Well, I’m here to tell them that they love it. It’s warm, it’s safe and… Oh. Actually, I don’t think it’s safe anymore.

Because of this (from previous post):

snakeAnd last week, on a beautiful warm spring day, our resident diamond python woke up from its winter slumber. He/she was basking on the hot rocks just down from the verandah, quite at home, until the dog barked. We haven’t seen him since, but nor have I heard as much activity coming from ‘downstairs’. So I have decided to name him ‘Simon the Snake’ (no, no relation to Bec H’s bro. I just wanted a bit of alliteration). I am laughing at myself now, because having found this photo from several months ago, I can tell you right now that the snake from 2 days ago was a different snake!!! What the …?!)

Moving on. Rodents in the country are interesting things. Cities have cockroaches, and the country has rats, and mice, and other things of course but they are not the focus here. Everybody has their own solution. There are mouse traps of course (I have found them to be useless, as they just very gently lick or remove whatever it is you’ve put on the trap); then there’s bait (which of course causes unsightly smells from house cavities but is otherwise very effective. It is, I confess, our chosen method of rodent control); there’s Bec H’s contraption which electrocutes one rat or mouse at a time (limited in terms of access but otherwise very effective and as humane as a killing machine can be, unless it’s got a litter of babies hanging onto it of course); there’s sound wave emitters which are buried around the house or plugged into walls to repel the rodents from the area; and no doubt many more I’ve never heard of.

My relies from the Riverina can recall mice plagues when the ground would be alive at night, writhing from a carpet of mice scampering about. Whilst winter can be a challenge as they head to homes for the warmth, we’ve thankfully never hit those numbers! We refuse to get a cat, as we are blessed with a large number of incredible birds. And Jack the dog, well, put it this way – I have seen a field mouse run past just inches from his nose, without a flicker of an eyelid from him (Jack has other strengths).

Bec H’s Jonesy, the Jack Russell, is another dog altogether. He had a sleepover some months back, and sadly has never been invited back. This is not because he is not adorable, but because neither Bec H nor I got any sleep because he spent the entire night (yes, the ENTIRE night) running from room to room, his nose to the ground, sniffing out the rats under the house, and in some instances trying to actually dig them out. Much to his frustration and my relief, he was unable to do so because the floor was in the way. Still, as I said, he did try… All night. At one point, I got up, thinking maybe he just wanted to go outside to relieve himself, but at 3am in the morning found myself chasing him across the garden trying to get him back in – with Bec H, who had subsequently woken up. Incredibly, the boys slept through the whole thing, which is what Jonesy did when he got home that morning (lucky lucky him). jonesy in cupboardJonesy really is an incredible ‘ratter’, and I think this should be taken into account on his next performance appraisal. I mean, look at him here, in my pantry, just last week, trying to dig his way through a layer of cupboard and floor to get at them. His single-minded focus can only be admired.

Anyway, I actually deliberated long and hard about posting this blog, as I don’t want people to think we live in a rat infested home which needs to be reported to the Dept of Health, but, well, what the hell. After all, did I mention, they’re native.

So, who’s up for a farmstay?

PS – next blog from me, we’ll be looking at the rabbit warren in the veggie patch. Yes, that’s right, IN it.

This entry was posted in Farming, General, Life in a small community, Living with animals, Uncategorized by Bec C. Bookmark the permalink.

About Bec C

I made the tree-change move from Sydney to my husband 'Dougal's' old family property on the mid-north coast several years ago, but only since the birth of my first son have I really lived here. In between raising 2 young sons, I am trying my hand at sustainable farm management... 'Trying' being the important word. Whilst the ability to pat my steers gives me much satisfaction, I love the fact that every morning I awake to space and open sky... even if it is 5am.

8 thoughts on “Rats Tales

  1. Our house is only ten years old and yet we have the same ‘native’ rat problems – and the same Jonesy goes berserk once he gets a sniff of the ‘incomers’. The other day I had a flat tyre and in accessing the spare in the back of the car we discovered evidence of rats having been there before us and Jones went spare! Nothing/nowhere is sacred!

    • Jonesy Jonesy Jonesy… It’s like they are taunting him, saying ‘can’t catch us’! Good to know 10yr old houses have the same problem G – I am very slightly mollified (is that the right word?)!

  2. I feel there will be a lot to do during my next visit Beccy!. Perhaps the boys will help me OR the Snakes ?? There are at least 2 that we have seen! Hopefully they will regain their Pre-winter appetites very soon!

  3. That’s my boy! And Bec, further consolation.. there is renewed rodent evidence in our linen cupboard, brought to my attention of course, by Jones. I found him 2 shelves up, amongst the spare towels and pillowcases, that same rear end sticking out, tail waving madly. Yikes.

    • … Very consistent!!!! Did my own scissor-leg jump this morning in the laundry – almost hit the roof. Linda would have been impressed!

  4. That romantic “Tree Change” featured in the glossy magazines to lure the city folk is hardly as appealing now! Thanks for the reality check Bec.
    I could loan you some cats if you’re desperate.
    Take ’em on Bec – you’re a stealthy, strong farmers wife now! I have faith in your rodent conquering abilities.

    • No No Jodes – I’m the farmer, not the farmer’s wife!! Will keep those cats in mind – sounds like they might be in high demand…

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