OPINION

OPINION | Oh, rats! We've got a problem

Oh, rats! We've got a problem

For a long time, I quietly suspected that a homeless person was living in our roof.

There were the midnight thumpings, the muffled scufflings, the sound of someone heavy dragging things about above our heads.

I sometimes entertained myself by imagining the stowaway climbing down out of the manhole in the bathroom ceiling each night to go and raid the fridge.

It certainly would have explained why our food disappears so quickly.

It would also explain why the bathroom is always such a mess and yet not one (acknowledged) resident admits responsibility.

Ok, I didn't really think it was a person. And given the height, probably not the wombat it also sounded like.

But I did think it was possibly the fattest, clumsiest possum family you'd ever seen.

Then, over time, the noises became more numerous, the sound of scurrying clearly made by multiple feet over various parts of the roof cavity, and we started to entertain another notion.

Rats.

They'd have to be wearing lead boots or something, but apart from that, they seemed like the most likely contenders.

Especially after we found a few questionable brown poop-like items directly under an air conditioning vent.

And then the air conditioning stopped working.

On a rapidly chilling late-June day, this was a more urgent concern than the potential rat infestation above our heads, so we got the air-conditioning guy in pronto.

Adam was a big, tall man and I wondered what had made him choose a career where he had to squeeze through manholes and stoop under roof beams. But squeeze and stoop he did, and he returned with photos that confirmed our fears.

While the rats hadn't caused the air conditioning problem, they'd certainly been making merry in the general vicinity.

He'd found their ablutions block, which was the top of part of the air conditioning system, and had been peeing all over a transformer. They're lucky they weren't electrocuted, silly rats.

My husband called the pest control company immediately.

Now, I don't know if rats have evolved the ability to understand English, but I can think of no other explanation.

Because the night after the air conditioning man uncovered their lair, the rats went berserk.

Berserk, I tell you!

It was like they knew what was coming; Rataggedon, the Ratture, the Ratocalypse, if you will, was nigh, and the rats weren't happy.

Their 4.30am fracas culminated in some sudden and fierce squeaking, the first we had ever heard from our upstairs residents.

It sounded like one of them had tumbled down a cavity in the wall and was stuck, its cries escaping through a gap in the cornice right outside our bedroom.

That's what I thought anyway.

My husband thought their melee had turned violent and one was killing another, and possibly trying to eat it.

That's just a little glimpse inside his head.

I banged the wall with a shoe and the squeaking stopped, only to be followed by loud dragging noises and then nothing.

Silence.

Maybe my husband was right - the poor rat had been murdered and was now being devoured.

My sympathies had somehow been hijacked by the possibly-cannibalised early-hours squeaker, one of the very beasts I was planning to have "controlled" soon by the pest people.

If a rat murder was occurring, it was only saving us the effort.

In fact, we should probably encourage and welcome a rat massacre in the roof, but only as long as the survivors ate the bodies straight away to save us from the stench.

Okay, this has taken a dark and quite grotesque turn, which I didn't really see coming. But neither did the rats, to be fair.

What's more, I'm hoping they don't see the pest people coming because it's time to reclaim our nights and get some sleep.