Enemy No. 1

It occurred to me that someone reading this blog could get the impression that much of this year in Maros has actually happened in places other than Maros. It’s true that we have been lucky enough to visit many parts of Indonesia, and even other countries, in our time so far, but for the most part our day-to-day lives revolve around the little town that is Maros. There are many great things about Maros, but I’ve decided to devote this post to one thing that isn’t!

Enemy No. 1: Rats

As I write this, the rats seem to be winning the war for occupation of our house. In fact, with absolutely no exaggeration (because it’s too ridiculous to need any embellishment), as I typed that last sentence I glanced over at movement on my windowsill and there was a fat rat, with half its body squished down between the green mesh screen supposedly keeping mosquitoes out and my inside wall. As I moved and clapped my hands it quickly shuffled backwards and jumped off the windowsill, no doubt to be seen in the near future. Aya and Daniel spent a good half hour this afternoon rearranging bricks, rocks and pieces of old wood and tiles to fill a large hole in the drain in our kitchen/laundry, as this seems to be the rats’ favourite entry point. They seem to have done such a good job that the rats are now seeking out new entrances, including my bedroom window.

The rats favourite escape route - the open drain in our laundry and kitchen area

The rats favourite escape route – the open drain in our laundry and kitchen area

Rats seem to be a part of everyone’s lives here, but I think it’s become a bit ridiculous. It seems reasonable to have them outside and in the street, but not a full blown attack inside your house. I have an unfounded theory that their sudden increase is related to the dry season, and a desperate hope that somehow they will all drown when the wet finally comes in earnest.

They eat through everything, including plastic lids to get to our rice. They seemed to particularly enjoy Daniel’s new box of weet-bix and left a trail of victorious crumbs throughout the loungeroom.

In an indisputable sign that they are the true rulers of this house, at night we sit on the sofas with our feet up, lest they run over them during one of their nightly raids. Our Indonesian father, at the age of 84, sleeps on the floor in the room next door, and regularly has rats run over him as he sleeps. He also claims to have killed one by whacking it over the head with his stick. Somewhat more effective than the rat poison we’ve tried, which gets strewn everywhere but with none of the desired results.

At night their squeaks and scratching can be heard outside, in the kitchen and dining room; pots and pans being stepped on, or knocked over. In a futile attempt at denial I imagine it’s some other animal, a stray cat or chicken. But the little presents they leave behind, along with the smell, leave no doubt as to who’s been to visit. Our washed dishes, left to dry in a tub, now need to be re-washed before we use them. A few days ago I watched as one got stuck in our sink trying to run away as I came into the kitchen and took nearly ten seconds to scrabble to the safety of the drain.

It seems they are not going anywhere for the time being – baby rats have recently been spotted.

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