The first few nights in our old finca were not exactly restful. Unaccustomed to the silence of the countryside and darkness of the bedroom, I wasn’t sleeping as soundly as usual. So, when the sound of frantic scratching broke into my dream, I shot out of bed, switched on the light and began to scour the room for the source of the noise. It appeared to be coming from within the thick old stone walls.
When you buy an old finca to do up, it’s not unusual to find that you’ve acquired a few little extras with the property: old abandoned agricultural implements, sticks of furniture that the previous owners left behind – and the odd rodent.
Yes, I knew that a rat was unlikely to burst through the wall in a cloud of plaster dust and flaking paint, to launch itself at my throat, but who thinks rationally in the middle of the night?
The priority jobs list was duly rearranged and all the small holes outside in the old stone walls were filled, to make sure the house was totally rodent-proof. Before long, the nocturnal scratchings had ceased and tranquility returned.
But deprived of a warm, dark place to call home, our rats found alternative – and much cosier – accommodation, in the two small adjoining outbuildings housing our gas-powered water heaters. Because these structures have to be well-ventilated, the critters’ access can’t be blocked.
Rats take refuge in the strangest of places. One day, The Boss decided to open up the old parasol that had been left standing out on the terrace over winter. As he did so, a large furry object jumped out from within . . . using his shoulder as a launchpad to freedom.
Apparently, when the movie Ratatouille was released there was a rush to buy rats at UK pet shops at the time. Anyone still interested? Nice fat brown one . . . going cheap?
Jan Edwards 2008 ©