Monday, February 11, 2008

Mole and Ratty

It is the Year of the Rat. I knew that. I did not need the children coming home with Chinese lanterns, fortune cookies and an astrological chart to tell me that. Of course it is the Year of the Rat and the revolution started here. Not only are they eating up our foodstuffs and setting fire to our cars, I believe one of them may have infiltrated the underneath of my house and died there a martyr to the cause. I have a horrible smell in the kitchen. You catch it as you walk into the door from the farmyard or as you walk into the kitchen from the lounge and the smell is in an arc. If I am lucky it is a mouse which will take less time to decompose.If I am less lucky it is a dead rat. I believe he may have strapped explosives to himself, tied a bandana round his head and am daily expecting his video to appear on YouTube. The smell is disgusting, slightly cheesy, slightly off, slightly dead. We have done the things you do - pulled out the fridge, tipped over the sofa, emptied the dresser then refilled it. Still the smell. There is an outside chance it might be a dead mole. We have now called a mole-catcher in courtesy of the large number of hillocks splattering the common grass in front of the cottages. He arrived yesterday with a small, curved spade about 80 years old and a large satchel with two mole traps in it. Mole traps are steel contraptions made of half a tin can and a deal of wire rings. The mole catcher used to be in the army he told me. I suspected as much. He inspected the hillocks for fresh earth which is drier looking than old earth, looking for the most recent mole hills. He dug his heel into the ground between two of the hillocks. When the heel of his boot sank into the ground, he knew there was a tunnel below. Carefully he dug out a round of grass, "washed" his hands with soil to remove his scent, dug through the soil to the tunnel, set the trap, placed it in the tunnel and filled it over with soil. He said moles were quite clever and sometimes filled the trap with soil to set it off then dug themselves a way around it. Apparently they dig their tunnels in the hope worms will fall into them and then they can eat them next time they are passing that way. The mole-catcher came back today and as a true professional seemed disappointed that the moles had indeed triggered the traps but escaped to dig another day. I felt like telling him: "If you think moles are clever, you should meet the rats round here - they want talks with the Scottish Nationals."

18 comments:

GoneBackSouth said...

Ugh, that dead rat honk sounds so disgusting. And the mole-killer sounds quite sinister too. I once found a dead mouse head-down in a jam jar. My flat-mate had some grandma home-made strawberry jam, with one of those quaint paper-lids tied on with an elastic band. The mouse had clealry chewed through it, gone into a drinking frenzy, and drowned. Rodents ... hate 'em.

Norman said...

Nowt smells worse than a dead rat. How about asking the local council inspector to take a look?
When i lived up that way his official title was Inspector of Public Nuisances. I bet that's been updated to summat like Rodent control operative. Hope you get it sorted.

Sarah said...

I lived in a farm cottage, for a few years, and had the same experience with malignant malodours.
The mouse presence, which turned into an infestation just about tipped me over the edge...
...and not just because, for the first time since the kids were born,there was someone spending more time in the kitchen than me.
Is there no neighbourhood moggy, sleek on a diet of rodent?
Or has it been taken hostage by the rat brigade, and ransom demanded?
I remember my partner cheerily singing to me, 'There's a-rat in me kitchen, what am-I gonna do..?'
He's lucky that some of that rodent poison, the Pest Controller put down, didn't accidentally end up in his dinner.

Winchester whisperer said...

Are you signing the petition to join Scotland?

tim relf said...

Moles are overrated. They fall into the same category as squirrels and rabbits: they look cute so people like them. They've got good PR. People I know tell me there are lots of them about this year, but apparently an organisation called the People's Trust for Endangered Species is asking the public to join its 'molewatch' survey to assess how rare they've become.

occasional northerner said...

I was in a cafe in Berwick on Saturday morning where the sole topic of conversation was moving tne border.

wife in the north said...

re Winchester Whisperer: am not signing the petition
re Tim Relf: they are about to get a lot more endangered this way

Whitenoise said...

I'm afraid that I can't help you with moles... Actually, I've never even heard of that problem in this country, although ground hogs or prairie dogs can be quite a nuisance.

For mice- rig a seesaw contraption over the mouth of a water bucket. A piece of wire around the centre of your stick will attach it to the bucket while keeping it balanced. Build a ramp up to the edge of the bucket. The mice scurry up the ramp and onto the seesaw, sniffing after peanutbutter or other bait. Their weight tips the stick, and into the bucket they go. Works like a charm...

aims said...

Living in Alberta - we do not have rats. In fact we have a rat patrol that patrols the borders to ensure that rats do not get in via transport trucks etc. We are proudly a rat-free province. Amazing!

Rebecca Barry said...

I'm not a huge fan of rats (although according to what I've read about the New Year, having a year of them might not be that bad) but I do have a soft spot for moles, blind little things that my cats keep slaughtering. I just keep thinking, how can you kill a blind animal? It seems unfair.

But rodents aside, do you get frustrated with all of those paper things your kids bring home as well? I have a 3 1/2 year old and a 2 year old and I keep trying to figure out how soon I can throw the construction paper with two squiggles on it out without being a terrible mother.

Love your blog. Am very happy to have discovered it!

Rebecca Barry said...

I'm not a huge fan of rats (although according to what I've read about the New Year, having a year of them might not be that bad) but I do have a soft spot for moles, blind little things that my cats keep slaughtering. I just keep thinking, how can you kill a blind animal? It seems unfair.

But rodents aside, do you get frustrated with all of those paper things your kids bring home as well? I have a 3 1/2 year old and a 2 year old and I keep trying to figure out how soon I can throw the construction paper with two squiggles on it out without being a terrible mother.

Love your blog. Am very happy to have discovered it!

Expatmum said...

Here in Chicago, we are inundated with rats. Last summer we could barely sit outside sipping our Pinots as they were charging through my back garden en route to the corner shop's bins. The city rat person however, told us on the sly, that since rats can't burp (a well known fact), if you leave little bowls of coke around, they will drink it all then explode!
I personally didn't have the stomach to try but my neighbour assures me it worked!

GoneBackSouth said...

I have left you the "Keep Up The Good Work" award!

Iota said...

Did you read in the news that there is a shortage of hamsters in China, as lots of people want to buy one, this being the year of the rat? It sounded rather like cheating, to me. A hamster isn't a rat. It just isn't.

Expatmum - surely surely that story about rats and coke can't be true? Wifey, put out a few bowls of coke and try it, and astound us all if it works (ie if you find remains of exploded rat). You'll have to think of a way of stopping the coke going flat first, but now you've finished your book, you're probably in need of a little intellectual stimulation. This could be just the project you need.

debio said...

Vermin were always a problem for me in UK countryside.

The most efficient rat-catcher I ever discovered was a half-full watering can left strategically on their route - they are creatures of habit, I understand. As they are tempted to slurp a mouthful they fall in and drown; this does not, of course, play the numbers game.

Your mole catcher, meanwhile, is much more forthcoming than mine used to be. He refused to let me in on any of his secret extermination methods. I wondered whether he thought I would be so gripped by his job that I would set up in competition with him. I wouldn't; he succeeded in killing not one single mole....I prefer to engage in an occupation which provides job satisfaction.

Expatmum said...

I swear that was what the "Streets and Sanitation" guy said. Now, he could have been pulling our legs, but he said that's what he does in his own garden. They're not allowed to do that for the general public on account of rodent body parts probably being even more of a health hazard than the live version.
(Hope this isn't hi-jacking the post, BTW.)

The Grocer said...

Wifey, one of my other customers had a rat under the floor board problem, the good news is it was gone after 2-3 weeks. It might take a little longer if it stays cold.
On the mole front why not invest in a sonic mole scarer, these devices chase the moles away in a humane fashion.

Retiredandcrazy said...

We had two rats died in a pipe in the ladies loo in our office. The smell is unbelievable.