RATTLED BY RATTUS RATTUS: Colin Nichol

Colin Nichol with mixed feelings over his last mass murder

THERE are no gaps in my roof, not around the sides where a rat might get in, nowhere I can find. Yet they do find a way and I’m told it’s because they have the ability to squeeze, to push themselves through narrow gaps just like the quenda who lives behind the shed.

But quendas can’t climb as rats do, so there’s no confusion as to which thumps around in the roof space at night, but not lately. Those terrible baits work!

Without control they build nests, produce families and there would be rats everywhere around house and garden. That was close to the case not long ago. Would I have done differently had I known? What could I have done?

Why choose my roof? Is my garden a handy food supply? It is for crows, magpies and the resident quenda. I know the palm trees next door provide berries that attract rats and this is a bushy area close to a lake that has to be amenable, not to mention neighbouring gardens.

Not long ago the thumping overhead returned. Not loud or disturbing but something had to be done without delay – it was time to renew the bait. I hate doing it, but I remind myself I have no choice.

I check some days later to see if they’ve been taken and they have disappeared. There it is then; it’s done and no more rats for perhaps a year or longer.  

My roof is metal framed, moving around in it is difficult without risk of stepping in the wrong place or bumping my head. Insulation conceals the framework. I gave up trying to explore long ago, just too hard.  

The baits replaced and a step or two back down the ladder, I stopped. What was that? A chorus of plaintive squeaking sounds, faint but insistent – desperate. I suddenly understood. Calling for mother.

© Colin Nichol 2021

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