Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Year of the Rat
According to Wikipedia, rats "emit short, high frequency, ultrasonic, socially induced vocalization during rough and tumble play, and when tickled." Well that explains the party in my ceiling . . it's the Fairway Comedy Festival of course!
The blighters have moved into the roof for the winter, or so they think. The poor little mights have crawled from overhanging trees during prolonged periods of rain and sneaked in through valley gutters.
Reluctant as I am to kill any living thing, crikey, even Huntsmen are welcome as long as they don't pass the bedroom lintel, I can't abide the scratching, chewing, flopping, plonking and banging in which these little blighters indulge.
So, last Sunday, Drummerboy and ventured into the roof cavity. There are two houses joined by roof remember and the roof loft is HUGE. Dry, warm, a bit dusty and dirty and a very comfortable condo for a rodent and his posse. Within seconds of flipping the manhole lid and flashing the maglight . . I saw two nice little grey rats tightroping on some structural wirey thing as if it had been placed there specifically for their own acrobatic pleasure. That was enough to convince us of the culprits' identity and baits were laid.
I'm loathe to bait them, it's basically a compound that denies them vitamin K so their blood doesn't coagulate and the poor things literally bleed to death. I've also found out that the theory about them becoming thirsty and running outside in search of water is a complete furfy. They just regularly leave the house in search of water anyway.
Now my dilemma . .it's been pouring for days, there is no shortage of water in the gutters so where's the incentive to leave and possibly die outside? Hence the increased risk of roof and cavity corpses. I SAW two but the noise they're making suggests a larger bunch. We'll just have to put up with the stench . . . . DrummerBoy will go house sitting and I'll have to pitch a tent or invest in some contraption that will reshape my nose whilst blocking the stink of dead rodent. Arrrrgggghhhh!
Traps are in fact the best and most humane exterminators but because rats are intelligent, it doesn't take long for them to work out that the trap is either dangerous or can be sprung without injury. It might catch one but then its buddies cotton-on. They don't listen to 'shoo . . go away' and the ultrasonic plugins can't travel through the solid rafters so they're not effective.
The only environmental solution is a children's or carpet python but I'm not keen about one hanging about in the roof and I'm not sure being eaten alive by a 6 foot snake is any better than being baited!
They can't stay - they chew electrical wiring, poo, wee, fornicate, produce ratlings every six weeks and apparently play the mini olympics between the hours of 2 and 4am. From last night's meanderings, it's the relay that has them all excited. All indications are that they also have a crowd cheering them on.
So, I'm fragile through lack of sleep, wracked with guilt about killing something that should live happily in the great outdoors, in a tree or creek but whatever - the deed is done. It's a waiting game to see if we've been effective and to find out whether they vacate. If they aren't dead by the weekend, I'm going to summon the ghost of that Irwin fellow and ask him to take them to a better place . . after all this year really is the year of the Rat.