Getting Ratty 

   

It is said that you are never more than one metre from a rat in London. In Paris, the rats outnumber the humans. Many years ago, a cousin and I used to count the dead ones floating down the Seine. We have them in the countryside, too. Mostly, they don’t cause a problem here, since there is plenty of space for everyone. Bella the cat is an enthusiastic and efficient ratter, too. Unfortunately, the rats don’t always stay outside.

The picture at the top of the post is a brown rat, from Wikimedia Commons. Copyright Dunpharlain.

Occasionally, we find an unwelcome present on the doorstep: a dead rat. Unpleasant though it is to find them, we shower lavish praise on the cat. But we were mistaken when we thought she had polished off the local rat population.

Irrefutable evidence

Alerted by wood dust and debris on the kitchen counter, I clambered up to take a look. The tell-tale evidence was on the top of the kitchen cupboards: rather large droppings that were plainly not from mice.

Our suspicions became a certainty when I came down to the kitchen the following morning. A scrabbling noise made me look up. A rat was scurrying along a beam and disappeared into a gap under the ceiling in the corner.

It’s unusual to see a rat, since they are very good at hiding, despite being short-sighted. I wonder if this one was asleep on top of the kitchen cupboard and woke up when it heard me. They come inside attracted by the warmth in addition to looking for food.

The intruder is now imaginatively christened Ratty.

We couldn’t allow this to continue. Rats are unhygienic. They chew at electrical cables, wood and anything else they can get their teeth into. And where there’s one, there are usually more. A female rat can have up to 1,000 descendants in the space of a year.

Rats were historically blamed for carrying the fleas that spread the Bubonic plague, although recent research suggests humans themselves were the culprits rather than rats. Be this as it may, I don’t want to cohabit with a rat.

Pest control

Off I went to the village quincaillerie (ironmonger’s). They sell just about everything except food, and if they don’t have what you want, they will order it.

“I need a rat trap (une nasse à rat),” I said. [I should explain that this is a humane trap that catches the animal but doesn’t kill it.]

“No problem. Come with me,” said Monsieur V.

Off we went down one of the aisles, which was stuffed to the gunwales with pest control products: insect sprays like ballistic missiles, murderous implements for massacring mice and boxes of poison with skull and crossbones prominently on the side.

Monsieur V got down a comparatively innocuous looking wire cage. It contains a small platform that tilts under the rat’s weight as it goes for the bait and snaps shut, trapping it inside. You then release Ratty somewhere far from home, thus making it someone else’s problem.

Humane rat trap

I handed over 25 euros.

“A lot of rats about this year,” Monsieur V said as a parting shot. Not greatly reassuring.

We set up the trap on top of a kitchen cupboard and waited. And waited. This was last Thursday, and there is no further evidence of Ratty, either inside or outside the trap. I read that rats are suspicious of new items, so maybe Ratty is shunning our carefully positioned piece of cheese. Or perhaps I frightened it away.

Before you suggest that we stop up all the holes from the outside, I invite you to come and see what an undertaking that would be.

More news of Ratty when/if we catch it.

In other news

I neglected to post on Monday, which was actually the blog’s 12th anniversary as well as, coincidentally, being Valentine’s Day. This information may not be of great interest to anyone but me. However, it brought home that I have been writing Life on La Lune for almost half the time we have lived here: a total of 748 posts.

During those 12 years, people from all around the globe have read the blog, and I have been lucky enough to meet some of you. I always enjoy reading your comments, whether here on the blog or on Facebook or Twitter.

In case you’re wondering, I have no plans to hang up my blogging hat just yet. There are still so many things to share about life in France, even during these strange times.

Thank you for reading and engaging with my scribblings. Stay well.

You might also like these posts:

Copyright © Life on La Lune 2022. All rights reserved.

22 comments

  1. Congratulations on 12 years! I for one am glad you will keep your hat. :o) Could we just take a moment to recognize and digest the “1,000 descendants in a year” fact? OH My Goodness! We used the bucket trap in our barn at our last home. Worked for the mice. Plethora of wildlife there including, flying squirrels, mice, honey bees (behind the cedar shakes), yellow jackets in a cedar column, paper wasps in the attic, owls on the porch (they make such a mess that is nearly impossible to remove. I think you posted of this scenario once), and bats (thankfully outside on the covered porch – but what a mess as well. Alfred, we named him, became accustomed to the water hose eventually. :o( Thank you for sharing tidbits of your life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Glad you enjoy the blog.

      1,000 descendants is an awful lot of rats. I really hope we are not going to be knee-deep in them, so I am anxious to catch and relocate Ratty. So far, it is ignoring the rat trap, but there is no other sign of it, either. Hopefully, it’s taken the hint.

      We are surrounded by wildlife here, too, which generally is lovely, except for the rodents. You have a good memory: we do indeed have a barn owl, about which I’ve posted, and it’s still around, making an almighty mess in our lean-to/garage where it perches. I’m hoping it might develop a taste for rats, but I fear adult ones might be too large a morsel!

      Like

  2. Hi Vanessa.
    12 years blogging – that is some achievement. I’ve only been going for a couple of years – hope I can match your record.
    Good luck with ratty. We did the same thing years ago in our cottage in Wales, taking cages out to a field far away and hoping they didn’t find their way back!

    MJ

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think I intended to continue blogging so long from the start, but it’s become a regular activity that I enjoy.

      Someone else said you have to take them four miles away, or else they find their way home. Ratty is being very discreet at the moment, so maybe he smells a rat!

      Like

  3. I recently posted on FB that we are used to sharing our house with an assortment of wildlife but not spotted a rat…yet. when holidaying in gite many years ago I walked into the downstairs bathroom (only one!) and surprised a rat sitting in the side of the bath. It was an extremely hot summer and I’d noticed odd marks on a tablet of soap earlier…I know, doesn’t bear thinking about too deeply! ‘Mr McGregor blocked up a gap around the pipes to the basin that came up from the cave and we didn’t see him again. We contemplated putting down poison before we left for home but didn’t fancy finding dead bodies on our next visit. The names made us laugh tho, raticide and, particularly, souricide.
    ps we tried a humane trap for the fouines who regularly thunder around our loft here but they are too canny to go for it…I understand about blocking holes up in old houses, impossible!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are certainly assailed by wildlife here. Like you, we have something in the roof, which could be fouines or loirs. The blue tits and sparrows nest in the holes in the wall, which I like much better. But never a rat before now. I wouldn’t like to put poison down, since you never know if some unsuspecting and innocent creature might eat it, not least our cat! Or she might eat a rat/mouse that has died from poison. Since we set up the trap, there has been no sign of Ratty, not even its distinctive “calling cards”. I am rather hoping I frightened him off.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The mere idea of cohabiting with a rat is off-putting, even though it’s easy to believe they are not far off. I can just imagine your Monsieur V. — and I’m sure you are grateful to have him and his shop nearby. Hopefully Ratty will take the hint. I doubt his kind have survived all this time without learning a few tricks. Glad to hear you are continuing the blog. There are so many stories to tell when you live in France!

    Liked by 2 people

    • The worrying thing is that we have never had a rat in the house in 25 years. Mice, yes, but not rats, unless the scratching and squealing in the roof is rats. I hope Bella will catch it or them outside, since she is oblivious to their presence inside.

      The blog has become part of life here, even if sometimes it’s not easy to find things to write about that might interest people, especially during the past couple of years. If I dry up, I will stop!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hope Ratty does the decent thing and hops onside. Not sure if rats are the same as mice but apparently you need to take them over 4 miles away or they come back. I used humane traps when we had mice and used to wander around finding a nice spot to release them! Happy 12th Blogiversary x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Once we do catch it, we are planning to relocate it some distance away. Like you, I have heard that mice come back if released too close, and I imagine rats are the same. A neighbour used to put a dot of Tippex on the mice they caught in their humane trap to see if they came back. I think the experiment was inconclusive! Thanks for the blogiversary wishes. ☺️

      Like

      • I find it hard to tell all theses small creatures apart. I have shrews, two types of mice and rats and when they are young or mature they sometimes overlaps (ie young rat looks, in my super expert eyes, like a mature mouse). When i stated this to, even more expert than me, friend, he mocked me by showing me their different whoopsies… but really, they are all nice animals that, like us, only want to eat and procreate. I won a bet once by taking someone to a french pet-shop to show them rats sold as pets.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I agree they are often hard to tell apart. And while I also agree that they have as much right to be here as we do, I’d prefer it if they stayed outside!

          Like

  6. beautiful article, as usual.
    (best results I had with rats was the bucket lid one, (eg ebay item 255060068939). worked very well)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I didn’t find that specific item, but I looked up rat trap on eBay, so I see the sort of thing you mean. Rat walks up ramp, tips into the bucket and then can’t get out. If our trap doesn’t yield results, we will try that.

      Like

      • Yep. Looks like a front of a slipper show. On top of a bucket with the base plate balanced flat. Mouse/rat climb the ramp. walks inside the show for the peanut butter on the top inside of the show-tip and the flap drops it in the bucket

        Liked by 1 person

  7. We bought a similar trap for squirrels and have caught and relocated six so far.

    We also caught a pigeon and a rat. The pigeon was able to fly away. The rat, not so much.

    Terry

    X

    Liked by 1 person

    • I presume the squirrels were outside, otherwise I don’t see how the pigeon got in the trap. Do you have a problem with squirrels? I know some people have had them indoors.

      Like

I'd love to know your thoughts. Please do comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account.Log Out / Change )

You are commenting using your Google account.Log Out / Change )

You are commenting using your Twitter account.Log Out / Change )

You are commenting using your Facebook account.Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.