Things have gone from bad to worse.
Last Friday night, I was sitting in bed, skyping my dad. A rattling noise began emanating from the kitchen downstairs so, asking Dad to hold on, I went to investigate. There was a small mouse on my cooker, eagerly sniffing around the grill pan for toast crumbs. Feeling mildly affronted, I reported this to Dad. Fifteen minutes later the noise was louder, more persistent, so I thought I’d try to take a photo. Abandoning Dad again I went down to find an wopping great rat on the hot plates sniffing around. It bolted when it saw me. Were they living in the oven?
Shuddering, I went back upstairs, hoping that there was enough to occupy them downstairs to allow me a peaceful night in my bed.
Still talking to Dad on Skype, but experiencing now the first stages of hysteria, I completely lost all self-control when all of a sudden another enormous rat (possibly the same one) ran across my bedroom floor, stopping next to my sports shoes – I swear it was almost as long as my size 6’s. Poor Dad was treated to a volley of swearwords before I told him I couldn’t talk anymore – I was moving out. I phoned Tony to warn him not to be alarmed (translation: “please don’t shoot me!”) as I was going to be traipsing across the garden to move into the other guesthouse, shared by my Dad when he’s in Kenya and a pilot friend of ours, Neill, who comes and goes.
Histrionics over and heaving a sigh of relief I ensconced myself over there. And the following day resorted to extreme measures. I’d shown leniency. I’d laid humane cage traps. I’d offered repatriation to a distant land and witness protection. They weren’t interested. It was too late for that now. Traps were set. I’m afraid, despite calls from some of you to work on winning the hearts and minds of my enemy, I wasn’t after prisoners anymore, I wanted scalps. (Or tails.) I’m sorry. But after a year of this it’s come down to ‘them or me’.
That night, the small mouse was dispatched. But the battle won’t be won until I get ‘Sneaker’ – and his brethren, if indeed there’s more than one. So, during the daylight hours I’ve been methodically pulling apart my house, wardrobe, drawers, cupboards, shelves, looking for holes or evidence of the rodents.
And I found this…
I guess he’s an illite-rat as the cap didn’t stop him ruining my best straw hat.
And then this…
My first ever effort at needlework when I was at primary school and stitched my own mouse. How ironic that of everything in the house it’s the mouse that was chewed up and unstuffed (yards of my mum’s tights had been used to pad out Mousey). And leaves me with a scary thought – Sneaker is evidently a cannibal to boot.
Together with my willing helpers Peter and Judy, we’ve located a few holes in the structure of the building – walls/roof/window surrounds – and have stuffed them with wirewool. A great tip for any of you who didn’t already know – even rats draw the line at chewing through metal – I guess it hurts their fillings.
I’ve continued living in exile in the other house and was thanking my lucky stars a) to have the use of it, and b) that it wasn’t rodent-infested when the other night, at about 3.00am, I was woken by that all-too-familiar babble of rodent-speak that you get when the mum has been out and about foraging, and has just come home to her babies who are all hungry. “Hi kids, I’m back”, followed by “Mum! Mum! I’m hungry…” I shrank beneath my duvet. So far, I’ve only heard them – twice. I hope they’re on the outside of the house but they sound too close for comfort. As you can imagine, I’m sleep-deprived at the moment.
Meanwhile, it’s the general opinion of Tony, Peter and Judy, that my house is now definitely rodent-free, and impenetrable, with just the undercurrent of a suggestion that they’re not convinced I wasn’t making it all up anyway. But we haven’t caught Sneaker yet. So although I want to believe that my home is now a fortress and impregnable to all night-time marauders , I took some sage advice last night, and dredged flour lightly over the kitchen surfaces to see if by any chance, there might be evidence of tracks left behind.
And this is what greeted me when I came to check this morning.