Tag Archives: pest control

Another Story Of Mice And Men

We didn’t really think that much about the scuffling from behind the sofa to start with. A rare night with decent broadband meant we’d enjoyed about an hour of Strictly and were halfway down a bottle of wine so we were quite relaxed about what we thought was Rubbish Cat’s latest mad outburst of energy. He’s usually pretty laid back, but every now and again he likes to do a wall of death around the living room, either pursuing or being pursued by some imagined feline adversary.

But, if we’d know what the noise was actually all about, it might’ve been a bit different… As Bec tidied the room prior to our retirement for the night, she lifted a bean bag.

“Er… Steve?”

“Mmmm?”

“There’s a bloody great rat over here…”

“What?!”

It turns out the scuffling was actually Rubbish Cat’s entertainment for the evening. He’d brought a rodent friend in to play. Safe to say it didn’t survive, which is probably just as well. The thought of a colony of ratty guests setting up home inside the stuffing of the sofa or in the dark recesses under the sideboard wasn’t a particularly pleasant one. Indeed, it was enough to prompt me to resolve to check the outhouses for evidence of further habitation the next day…

So, after the morning routine of dog walk and breakfast, I donned some gloves and ventured into the dusty, cobwebbed shed which houses the intricate system of switches and pumps which control our water works. It’s been home to a rat before so it seemed a good place to start (https://theparsleysabroad.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/rats-my-secrets-out/).

Opening the door, some immediate scuttling suggested my suspicions were not unfounded and, sure enough, as I switched the light on, a small, sleek body darted into a dim recess where a shelf meets a cupboard. While gingerly prising the cupboard door open, some faint squeaking suggested there was probably more than one culprit too – but I was entirely unprepared for what happened as I lifted a sack of old fertiliser off the shelf.

I can only describe it as an explosion of mice. They showered onto the floor at my feet, immediately scattering in all directions – out towards the door, behind the water pumps, along shelves and through gaps where the tiled roof meets stone wall. I opened another door and this time a full-grown rat plopped onto the floor, looked a bit startled and then made a break for a gap behind a cupboard unit. Another door, another couple of rats…

The sheer numbers involved reminded me a bit of the last installment of The Hobbit when, just as the good guys think they’re winning, it turns out a whole new army of orcs has been laying low behind a hill waiting for the command to strike.

Slightly overwhelmed I retreated to the house…

“Where’s the cat?” I asked Bec.

“Dunno; he was hanging around a few minutes ago but I’m not sure where he’s gone.”

“Bloody typical. Just when I really need him, he buggers off.”

Forced to fight this battle on my own, I cleared everything I could shift out of the shed, armed myself with the garden hose and let rip with a powerful jet of water, hoping – somewhat like Frodo and his friends in later episodes of Lord of The Rings – a good flooding would drive the enemy from my lands.

So far it seems to have worked. I’ve left the shed door and cupboards open so they don’t make such comfy, dry and safe accommodation for guests with long tails and nibbly teeth. After recounting my battle to Bec, I even earned a vague: “Well done, dear.”

As For Rubbish Cat, I’m not sure how he feels. He does now sometimes sit at the door of the shed peering in – but I’m not sure if the look on his face is part of the atavistic hunting urge or disappointment that I seem to have removed his source of entertainment…

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Rubbish Cat and that look I now get after removing his source of entertainment

Rats! My Secret’s Out …

A truculent water supply, which seems almost vindictive in its choice of times to splutter and fail, is something we’ve grown used to over the few months we’ve been in Turkey. Mid-shower is a favourite or perhaps shortly before the preparation of a meal. However, although inconvenient, enforced dry periods never seem to last all that long; besides, we’ve learned to keep a large, plastic bottle of water squirrelled away – enough to rinse hair full of shampoo, fill a saucepan or boil a kettle.

It was therefore only in passing that I mentioned the latest hiccup to neighbour Mehmet when he popped round the other day. After all, it seemed a good idea to establish if the problem was village-wide or confined to our house.

But I should have known better. Before I could assure him we had contingency plans, Mehmet was on his feet and heading for the outhouse and its wheezy, unreliable pumps. I tried to persuade him it wasn’t necessary to start tinkering with the machinery in the cobwebbed recesses of the ramshackle shed but he had the door open before I could stop him – and he immediately took a step back.

My secret was out.

As it has the last half-dozen times I’ve had cause to enter the outhouse, the large rat which has taken up residence in the tin-roofed building scuttled along a tool shelf and squeezed through a narrow hole – the entrance to its inaccessible den somewhere in the wall cavity.

We have two cats so I had been hoping, over time, they might fulfil the expected role of rodent assassins and I wouldn’t have to get involved in disposing of our latest guest. But now the rat’s existence was known to others and my own role as man of the house was once again in question.

“You see that …?” demanded Mehmet.

“Erm … what?” I asked, in the vain hope I could get away with what was coming next.

“A big rat!“ replied Mehmet with obvious disgust. “You must kill it or it find its way into your house. It eat electric wires,” he added with graphic hand gestures to illustrate sharp little teeth nibbling cables.

“I haven’t got anything to kill it with,” I countered.

In silent reply, Mehmet reached across to the shelf in the shed and lifted down a rat trap I’d never noticed.

“You put cheese here. Rat eats – and then SNAP!” Mehmet explained patiently.

To be honest I had seen similar contraptions before; it was a humane trap which, if it worked, would successfully curtail the roamings of our resident rodent – but without killing it.

“So, once it’s in the trap, what do I do with it?” I asked, in the hope Mehmet might know some quiet place where rats could be released without heading for the nearest property.

“You fill bucket with water and …” another hand gesture made it clear where the phrase “drowned rat” may have come from.

It’s now five or six days later – and I still haven’t set the trap.

It’s not that our resident Roland scares me; other than the smell, which has become gradually more potent, knowing he’s somewhere in the shed doesn’t bother me. It’s just I’m being terribly British and, although I know Mehmet’s right and there is a risk the rat could find its way into the electrics, I’m not keen on the cold-hearted killing of a living, breathing animal.

Of course, that will probably have to change; Turkish culture doesn’t include a sentimental Disney tolerance of vermin and setting the trap is on today’s to do list.

But, once it’s occupied by a furry little body, I know I’m going to have another decision to make – and, in a way, the outcome will be an indication or just how far away our old life in the UK has become.

SP