The Rat Man Of Old Ryde Town
I’ve been preparing an article on How The Police Became Broken. You know, cos I was a rozzer for many heaps of years – but stuff that.
I need to talk about my rats.
I have rats.
No. Listen. I have rats. Like actual colonies and it’s got out of control and I’m suddenly The Rat Man Of Old Ryde Town. I thought I’d be known as the writer, or the ex-cop, or the ex-cop who is now a writer, or even that baldy twat who does the zombie books.
But now I’m the baldy twat with the rats.
And that’s not a cool thing to be known for.
I can’t even blame anyone else, because literally everyone else said to nip it in the bud when I first said I had rats, and I was like, “noooo, it’ll be fine!”
In truth though. My garden has always had rats. I feed a lot of birds, which include but is not limited to, Oscar and Veronika (a breeding pair of giant herring gulls who scream at their top of their birdy lungs for me to feed them at 5am and 5pm) several pairs of breeding magpies, some crows, many many many pigeons and collared doves, blackbirds, thrushes, finches, tits, robins, and sparrows.
Plus, I have a family of foxes that come for supper. But they’re actually nocturnal, so it’s supper time for me, but breakfast for them.
And don’t forget I have my own two dogs. Crusty and Deli.
That’s why I have rats. Because of all the food I put out, and cos of that rule I have, which is the stupidest rule since Mr and Mrs Stupid developed their live juggling act with pinless grenades.
That being the rule that if anything comes into my garden it gets fed. Other than, you know, like a burglar or something. Well, no, they would be fed too. But they would fed to everything else, which would actually reduce my creature food bill.
Anywho. So, I’ve always had rats.
But there was a black and white cat that came into the garden during the day to pick them off, and there was another ginger cat, and then what with the foxes the rat population was kept in check.
But the black and white cat got run over. I saw it happen and scooped him up and took him to the vets. He lived, but his owner doesn’t let him out now.
Which leaves the ginger cat. Who is now fat and useless and just stares at the rats and birds like a he’s outside a McDonalds window and can’t summon the energy to go inside.
That just leaves the foxes. Who are nocturnal, and since the heroic black and white cat got run over, and the ginger cat got fat, the rats have realised that my garden is actually a very safe place to be during the day.
And the numbers went up.
But only by a few.
And I thought that was cute. They had babies. Baby rats are gorgeous. No, shut up! They are. They’ve got fatty rat bums and little twitchy noses and big ears, and they bound and bounce and hop and are all skittish and verrrrry tame.
So I was like. Awwwww, look at the baby rats, and I really got into watching them. My office overlooks the garden and the main area where they venture out. There are trees and plants that they climb to get on the fence to reach the bird feeders.
It’s fascinating to watch them climb and play with each other and chase and tumble, then every now and then the alpha will check their behaviour.
And even the alpha is a charmer. He’s not some New York tattooed rat thug with a switchblade. He’s very likeable. I called him Boris.
But that’s only on the west side. Which is where my rats have always lived, that being under the bird food shed near the bins.
Then, another family sprung up on the east side under my tiny log cabin gym, and again it was just a couple and they had babies and so I was like, Awwwww, look at their baby rats.
And then I noticed that the west side rats wouldn’t go into the east side territory, and the east side wouldn’t go into the west end. There is a line of bricks that they never cross. Which was very interesting to watch and absorb all the social dynamics.
Until Tiny Eye came along. Who is a baby rat from the west end. He only has one eye and he doesn’t give a shit about the rules.
He was all over the east side and he’s learnt the sound of my voice and comes running when I go outside, knowing I’ll be feeding the birds.
So, like a complete twat, I gave him a couple of seeds. Oh come on! He’s only got one eye and he stands up and wiggles his fatty rat bum and he’s very cute.
And everyone else was telling me to sort it because baby rats can make new other baby rats ridiculously early. They reach sexual maturity in 8 weeks, and it only takes 21 days for them to gestate and make more baby rats, and my alphas are clearly randy sods who have been knocking the lady rats up all over the show (hence calling them Boris)(Cos, you know, he’s got kids everywhere)(allegedly)(don’t sue me)
Whatever. But yeah. So. Those few baby rats turned into many baby rats within a very short amount of time, then all of a sudden I’m like.
Oh. I’ve got rats.
But even then I thought it would be okay.
I called east end and west side Boris’s for a meeting and they got all their families lined up and I said to them, I said “listen rats, stop breeding and making more baby rats and whatever happens, don’t go in the house.”
And the east end Boris said, “We’ll absolutely never go into the house.” And the West side Boris said “We would never go into your house. We are highly intelligent social creatures who simply want to co-exist in a safe and meaningful way.”
And they were so charming and cute with their fatty rat bums and twitchy noses and Tiny Eye was like, “please mister, may I have another peanut to eat…I am ever so hungry.”
So I was like. “Okay, I’ll go and get you a peanut.”
And I went and got a peanut and they broke into my house and had a rat orgy in a big hole in the wall where a soil pipe was removed on the first floor.
I could see it happening. They had a glitter ball up and a rat DJ and they were doing lines of cut brick dust off lady rats’ bellies and I said “Oi! You literally just promised me you wouldn’t go in the house!”
And the Boris's were like, “But we’re not in the house and the main thing to focus on is the obesity epidemic in ginger cats.”
Which set me off ranting about greedy ginger cats being fat and useless while hard-working cats like the black and white cat who got run over in the execution of his duty are now forced to eat shitty cheap tinned fish.
Which I then realised was a deflection. So I bought some anti-rat spray on Amazon. It smells of Peppermint and Eucalyptus and garlic, which rats hate, along with bay trees and lavender apparently.
So I sprayed that into the rat nightclub sex orgy place and they all ran out faster than politicians when the HRMC come calling.
And went straight back in ten minutes later while saying things like, “Ooh, it smells lovely in here.”
Which was after climbing the actual bloody bay tree they use to access to hole in the first place. Which, I might add, is right next to the lavender bush.
Right! I wasn’t having any of this. I marched into the shed. Well, more like shuffled cos it’s quite cramped, and found a round grill from a barbecue I was once bought. Which was stupider than the son and daughter of Mr and Mrs Stupid who thought they’d carry on the family act but modernise it and use live claymores – which is because I hate barbecues. Oh my god what is the actual point? They stink and the food tastes shit and the men just want to push their bellies into the other men’s bellies and spaff all over the utensils while the ladies drink Pimms and fuss over the bowl of salad that no one ever eats. (That’s my experience of barbecues. Other may vary.)
Where was I?
Right. I got the useless round grill and went back and got up some ladders and wedged the grill over the hole. “Haha! Take that you ratty rat fucks. Opposable thumbs and sapience triumphs over cunningrodentalitus.” Easy tiger.
And do you know what they did?
Do you know what the two Boris’s did?
They sent the cutest, plumpest, most gorgeous mumsy rat up the bay tree (which was next to the lavender bush) and along the pipe that was dripping with Anti-Rat spray (and rat love goo from the orgy) and she pawed at the grill while saying “don’t worry babies. Mummy is here.”
And I was like “ooh you sneaky fucking fuckers. No. No way. She’s not even a mother rat.”
“It’s okay babies. Mummy loves you. Don’t cry.”
Oh god. Don’t. Don’t even judge me. I was up that ladder and moving the grille because you can’t unthink somethings and the thought of any living creature pining or being sad crushes me.
At which point east end Boris pulled the lady rat wig off and wiggled his fat rat bum at me and ran back inside to the rat hookers and the rat brick dust dealer and the orgy carried on.
And then my back neighbour, who is a god bothering Karen who hates all living creatures and used to spray her hose at Oscar for stepping on her wall before he came for breakfast. We had to move breakfast site because of her. She was all like, “Have you got rats? We saw some coming from your garden.”
And I said. “Rats? No. Not seen any. And how do you know they weren’t going home to your garden?”
Which didn’t go down very well.
Then the other neighbour came and lectured me and mansplained (I bet he loves belly rubbing barbecues) and I had to admit defeat.
I called the pest company, and they sent their best man. A steely eyed killer in combat shorts who said, and I quote, ‘You’ve got a rat problem.’
‘No shit. Really? What gave it away? Is it the many rats sat watching us?’
Then he looked up and frowned. ‘Is that a rat orgy with a glitter ball?’
‘LOOK AT THAT FAT CAT!’ East end Boris yelled and me and the steely eyed killer spent the next ten minutes mouth frothing at the injustice of good hard-working cats wot get run over and fat cats who don’t do anything.
After which the Steely Eyed Killer said “I’ll get the poison then.”
Which is bloody awful. Truly shockingly awful. It takes four days of slow painful awful death for a rat to die from poison. It’s barbaric.
He told me they used to use instant death poison, but the EU banned it and then it all kicked off with the fat ginger cat and the two Boris’s shouting and everyone else was wading and it got very nasty and honestly? I’m not even going there.
But then we remembered the family of foxes. The poison makes the dying rat leave their home, and the only place to go is into the fox grounds. And the Steely Eyed Killer said a fox can die from eating too many poisoned rats.
I researched the RSPCA and all sorts of animal welfare sites and they all said don’t use poison, but they don’t give any solutions or alternatives. Which is as stupid as the grandchildren of Mr and Mrs Stupid deciding to change the whole act and juggle with scalpels instead. While blindfolded. Which is very stupid.
But I did read that rats don’t actually pose a massive threat in the UK in terms of disease, and it’s very rare for humans or cats or dogs to get sick from them.
In the end we put snappy traps down instead. (The old style ones that cause instant death.)
Eight of them in total.
Two babies got killed within minutes.
I put them over the fence for the foxes to eat.
I’ve also had to stop feeding the birds to make the rats hungry, so they’ll take the bait from the snappy traps.
God. I feel wretched now.
I was in the lounge eating breakfast and looked over to see a rat going up my stairs trying to find food.
And the thought of Tiny Eye going into snappy trap. I mean. I know it’s instant death, but blimey.
What a terrible thing to do.
An honest attempt to co-exist backfired massively and now I’m struggling with the whole right to life concept and live and let live.
But then if Crusty sees a rat he kills it instantly. I’ve seen him do it. He’s a bit old and slow now, but in his day, he’d tear them apart. It’s hard-wired into his system that rats are dangerous.
Deli won't kill them. She just wants to play. That's her in the video watching it run past.
And did you know that the whole myth about witches comes from old women living alone who survived the plague that killed a third of the population of the planet – which is because old women often have cats and cats eat rats, so the old women never got the plague, which obviously must be black magic so they burnt them, or whatever they did. (People are fuckwits.) (But that was black rats. We don’t really have black rats in the UK. Our rats are brown rats and they didn’t carry the plague)
Anyway. So there we have it.
The moral of the story is if you get rats, deal with them quickly, and whatever you do, don’t make friends with them.
Because they’re rats and they’ll lie.
Back to writing for me, while avoiding the rats lined up at the window asking for food.
Much love x