1 May 2011

Hafiz Adewuyi


Sometime in the ember months of last year (2010), man’s most destructive house mates – rats – launched an assault like no other I’d seen before in my compound. I and my family woke up one morning to find a portion of the cemented ground of the compound excavated. The point of excavation was a small hole in the cemented ground; the hole had housed the foot of one of the logs which supported the lever used to draw water from the well in the past. From the looks of it, someone had been responsible for the act but reasoning made us doubt that as we couldn't think of anyone in the house who could have done it. The next day’s development however cleared any remaining suspicion of someone being responsible for the destruction; the excavated soil of the previous day had more than doubled in quantity. It didn't take much speculation to come up with the culprits; the thing is: it was quite hard to believe that rats were responsible for this.

Day after day, we woke up to find more and more excavated soil on the compound floor and I wondered if these filthy rodents were in the process of creating a ‘rat colony’ in our compound. It was even scarier because their excavation site was directly beside our potable water well and I was sure hell would be let loose if they successfully dug all the way to the well’s rings; rats in my drinking water?

About a week after the debut of the rats’ sinister quest, mum – the head of the house – finally decided a course of action. She returned from work that day with a sticky board, made specifically to curb stubborn rats; as an alternative to the food poisoning approach. I and my sisters breathed a sigh of relief as the menace of the rodents had sure seen its last day. Without further ado, I – under the cover of the night – went on to install the glue-board near the site of excavation and imagined the sight of nabbed criminals that I would behold the next day.

The next day came and as my mum made to leave for work, my sister who had accompanied her to the car called me to come see what our trap had done. I arrived downstairs and was both amazed and disgusted at what I saw.

NB You probably don’t have the stomach to view the upcoming images, so I advise you employ someone’s service to help you scroll past.

If you were able to view the image above, I’d say, “A picture says a thousand words”. But just in case things happened otherwise, lemme describe it. Yes, our board had trapped crawling animals, but these definitely weren’t the culprits that the trap was intended to stop. Lying on the board, immobilized to the point of not being able to even nod their heads were two female lizards. I was stunned as I hadn’t slightly pondered on the possibility of the trap doing this. I pitied the lizards, but apparently, there was nothing I could do to save them now; their fate was sealed. I left the board on the same spot and went back to our flat upstairs.

By afternoon, the number of female lizards had doubled and four lizards now lay on the glue board trap. At this time, a close examination of the reptiles showed that the innocent lizards – all four of them – had given up the ghost. I wondered why their death came so early and with my little knowledge of biology, I figured it must have been the exposure of the cold-bloodeds to inappropriate temperatures for prolonged periods. Now, another possible cause is starvation, but I didn’t think of that until now and I think it’s quite unlikely that a few hours of not feeding would kill such creatures.

My 5MP SE c902 camera came in handy, as under the brilliant afternoon sunlight, I got detailed pictures of the event. I then removed the board from the bare ground and placed it upon a pedestal before I proceeded upstairs once again. Before I left the site, I decided that I was gonna write an article on the event. That implies that, but for my procrastination, this article should have been published before the start of 2011.

Lizards on the pedestal
Following day, I happened to be the first to leave the flat and what I beheld on opening the door to the staircase could well be named the most disturbing sight ever of my life. The glue board had been dragged through over a 5m distance, from the pedestal on which it lay the night before, to the very door of our flat. The rats were obviously trying to mock us! Wait! That wasn’t all. One of the lizards on the board had been decapitated and another’s guts had been ripped out by the same things the board was intended for. I know this sounds absurd, but I assure you that it’s unadulterated reality; the rats came right back at us. I had enough stomach to convey the board which was soiled with lizard blood from our doorstep to the dustbin at the gates.

The sinister excavation by the rats continued up until we came up with the solution. The bricklayer got to work and sealed off the two holes beside the well with mortar; that saw the end of the menace. 

Sealed off hole stands out beside well; just took that this morning.
A few weeks later, I noticed that the water coming out of the taps smelt like dead rat and I didn’t waste time to attribute this to the previous burrowing act of the rats. We immediately changed our source of potable water, but I cringed knowing that we must have drunk rat water for a while before the rat’s corpse started to fester.

The battle of the rats against mankind (or vice-versa) really can never come to an end, so long as man continues to live the way he lives. Mum came back from church yesterday with small Agege bread and I being a bread lover, proceeded to get a bite of it. She resisted me however, saying it was meant for the rats. This time, they were making a canteen out of her relatively new jeep. For the past few days, she’d been waking up to find rat poop, left-over of junk food et all sort of crap in her car bonnet and she didn’t intend to allow that continue. Hours later, she laced the bread with Indocin (commonly called Indocede) powder and as usual, I was the one that did the poison installation - aye okunrin.

Poisoned bread that has been eaten by rats overnight (can you see the rat poop on the floor? Awon were alajesu)
Fortunately for the lizards, this time, the fat criminals have guzzled up ¾ of the poisoned food overnight. I just hope they've not become resistant to that kind of poison yet.

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