Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rat o' nine lives !

Intelligent Rodents
There must be a good reason why rats, of all the animals, are subjected to all kinds of tests in laboratories. Be it discovering a new cure for an old disease, or testing the effectiveness of stem cells for hopeless cases, rats are considered ideal simulation for human beings. This must be because of the similarity of the response of their bodies to any chemical input with that of the human bodies. But even in matters requiring intelligence, rats can not be inferior to the humans. At least, that is what is the conclusion I have come to, after battling with the house rats for weeks.
Nightmare with the Rats
Initially, the rats used to enter the flat through a pipeline from outside which led to the wash basin in the courtyard. Since the discharge tube made of plastic was not tightly fitted into the bigger drainage pipe, the rats bit off the plastic tube easily and entered the courtyard. Since the door leading to the living room was always kept open, entering the living room in the twilit time of the evening was no big deal for the rats. Then the night became theirs and they had a free run in the kitchen after lights were switched off. The first indication of the nocturnal assault was the lid of a used Nestle condensed milk can which was taken out of the pipeline by the plumber who was attending to a routine complaint . Deciding to close the door to our uninvited rat guests, I asked the plumber to replace the frail plastic tube by a thick PVC pipe. Well, the joy of blocking the rats through their usual route was short-lived. After a week, I found the plastic cover for the drainage under the kitchen sink fully damaged and the discharge tube was hanging loose. And the droppings everywhere gave evidence of the return of the rats. I bought an Ultrasonic Rat Repellent and installed it in the kitchen. The manufacturer of this device claims that the high frequency sound waves emitted by the equipment scares the rats away. I believed it initially. Then one morning I found that the tender coconut I had left on the kitchen platform the previous night had now a giant-sized hole instead of the small 1 cm hole I had earlier made on the Coconut shell to empty the contents. There was absolutely no doubt. It was a Rat which must have feasted on the tender coconut during the night. So, the ultrasound device failed and the rat triumphed.
Now what does one do in such cases? To go in for a rat trap? To poison the poor creatures? Neither of these obvious and popular solutions was acceptable to me. I put up with the nuisance of the rats for some more time. But the nuisance was becoming a menace. Earlier, they used to restrict their free run to the kitchen platform and the open shelves underneath. In course of time, they found out that the dining table in the dining half of the living room offered occasional treats like some left-behind snacks. Also, they learnt to probe near the Puja corner and were rewarded with the remnants of oil in the lamps. One morning, I discovered that the cushion of the sofa set had been bitten and torn.
Now was the time to take the battle to the next level. I had the kitchen sink discharge cover closed with a perforated iron plate with stainless steel cups attached underneath. Rats are not known to have overcome iron or stainless steel barriers. The pleasure of having stopped the rats in their tracks lasted for 2 nights. During the third night, I heard some faint sounds and decided to check . I found the soap box and the coconut oil can in the bath room overturned. I took a torch light and started looking under and behind every possible hiding place. It did not take much time to notice the tail of a rat rushing for cover under a Godrej Almirah. The rat had entered the bed room through an open window the height of which posed no challenge to the rat to climb.
Round One goes to me
I had to think fast. What do I do to checkmate this intelligent creature? I decided to cover all the windows with stainless steel screens. Before doing that, I ensured that no rat is left hiding anywhere in the house. Behind the refrigerator, sofa set, TV trolley, Godrej Safes, Washing machine, Computer table etc. Having ensured that the rats had been mainly overnight guests and not permanent residents in the flat, I had the windows covered with the stainless steel mesh. It is now nearly 10 days and I am beginning to feel that the first phase of the war against the rats has been won. But I do not underestimate their intelligence which has been sharpened by their thousands of years of co-existence with the human beings; that is why I consider the present lull as a truce. I know that the truce and with it, the peace could be pierced any time. But let me enjoy the small mercy meanwhile.

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