For everybody this year it has been a very strange time – 2020, the year that keeps on giving but we are keen to avoid accepting it! We decided we would not open our B&B this year due to the risk of not knowing who had been where or with whom. So, no guests. Except for one uninvited visitor.
This guest was really quite sinister. We live in the country. We expect wildlife but this wildlife was not what I wanted to have in the kitchen. Why? It was a rat.
Last Sunday we were due to have guests for lunch when I noticed the drinks fridge light had gone out and the contents weren’t cold. Our kitchen is designed so that you have to pull everything out of the way to get at what might be causing a problem, which was quite fortuitous really! We had to pull out the large fridge/freezer full of food which weighed a ton, in order to be able to yank out the smaller under counter fridge. And there we discovered that the cable had been chewed back to the bare wires. Ditto the fridge/freezer and the dishwasher, although the latter two were still working and salvageable. There were also a considerable amount of rat droppings behind the appliances. Horror!
So we started a rather long process of trying to trap Elvis, the name we decided to give the rat as we really wanted him to leave the building. I searched the internet about the best bait and traps to use. To begin with we felt slightly benevolent towards Elvis and bought a humane trap. Bacon was supposed to lure him quickly and luckily we had had a few rashers of good English back bacon to hand. Turns out he wasn’t tempted by bacon.
Peanut butter, chocolate, fruit, nuts, seeds, cheese, biscuits, bones, vegetables – you name it – Elvis was not interested. So I felt poison was the only option and we bought some advertised as being irresistible to rats. We put it in the humane trap hoping he would be locked in and therefore no danger to our cats (both senior citizens – one has no teeth so not really up to the job of catching Elvis!). He wasn’t even tempted.
Next idea was to spend a lot of money on an electrical trap – no chance of that as we had several good old fashioned wooden rat traps loaded with every type of temptation. The kitchen had developed rather an unpleasant odour of rat pee and poo and, having spoken to a couple of professional rodent killers, they asked us not to clean up until they had been to our house and identified where his rat run was.
We had calls out to five companies, some of whom called back but none turned up to the promised appointments. I don’t know why French companies have answerphones because most of them never call you back! By now it was really beginning to stress me out. For a week I couldn’t sleep. I felt permanently unclean and worried.
We had cleared the kitchen of every possible food source. We did have a compost bin under the sink but that was obviously his initial gourmet supply so that was disposed of when we realised he was around.
We have a recessed area with a pull out rack for tea towels and oven gloves with easy access underneath. When we were laying more traps, I pulled out the oven gloves, not realising that Elvis had made himself a very comfortable hammock inside one of them! He shot out across the counter tops and back down behind the cupboards. Dear Reader, I needed clean underwear after that!
Having managed to catch a glimpse of Elvis we realised he was really rather large. Desperate measures were needed. There were trails of evidence that he was venturing out more to seek food. We needed a strategy as any form of trap was clearly not going to stop this very intelligent creature. Indeed we even saw him jump over some sticky glue mats we had invested in!
While I was working at the computer one morning I could hear some scrabbling from behind the subwoofer in the dining room and then Jeeves, the toothless cat, almost pointed with his paw. I ran to the pool, got a net, and both John and I armed ourselves with brooms.
John pulled out the subwoofer and Elvis made a dash for it. I missed with the first shot. Elvis then decided to head back to the kitchen which is where his reign ended. The first blow stunned him. A red mist descended over me and when I regained my sensibilities he was very dead. I looked up and John was pale, never having seen me lose it quite like that, but he had a little more respect for his wife…
Complete euphoria took over and I broadcast the news to various friends who had known of our distress. Then, naturally, people thinking they were being helpful, warned us that where there’s one rat will be 10,000 more. And then the obvious jokes regarding Elvis. Was he “caught in a trap”, would I be “Lonesome Tonight” then, was he a member of the Broom Town Rats? I wasn’t proud to kill a living creature but… Elvis has left the building.