Monday, 17 August 2015

The Break Ins

Over the last few weeks, I've had trouble with something breaking into my apartment by chewing holes in my flyscreens. The problem first started with something chewing through the flyscreen of my partially opened kitchen window overnight and evidently sticking its head through to eat the little coriander seedlings that I had been growing on the kitchen windowsill. There wasn't any clear evidence of exactly what kind of animal had broken in, but with all the problems I have had with possums coming into my garden and eating my seedlings, I was prepared to believe that it was one of the sneaky little blighters learning a new trick.

I patched the hole in the flyscreen, replanted the coriander and moved it to the other side of the windowsill away from the open area, and resolved to shut the window at bedtime every night to prevent further incursions. I also smeared some peanut butter on the window ledge outside and put my wildlife camera on it to see if I could find out what had been responsible for the break-in. After 3 nights, without any visitors to the windowsill, however, I decided that nothing was planning to visit the ledge again.

How wrong I was. One night, I got home late and surprised something making a large amount of noise in the vicinity of my bathroom windowsill. The problem was that by the time I had entered the bathroom, there was no sign of the intruder and I couldn't be sure exactly where it was. I have a custom installed (I have a very clever Dad) bathroom fan on my windowsill and my bathroom window is always open behind it, but it appeared that something small and agile had climbed up to the window ledge, chewed through the flyscreen and let itself into the space behind the fan surround. What I was unsure about was whether the invader had made it any further into the bathroom than that. There is only a very small gap around the fan surround, but there were two small scats on the bathroom floor that had either been flung there by the intruder thrashing around behind the fan, or the intruder had made it as far as the bathroom floor. The scats looked very much like rat poo, but several of the very small marsupials have similar looking scat so I still wasn't exactly sure what I was dealing with. If the intruder had made it into the bathroom, the only feasible place for it to be hiding was in the cupboard under the laundry sink where the door was sitting slightly open. So, being very tired and unwilling to search the cupboard that night, I shut the cupboard door and placed a chair against it incarcerate any visitors and shut the window in the hope that it had made it back outside. The next morning I searched the cupboard with my friend, Christie, as back-up (I really dislike rats in confined spaces), but there was no sign that there had ever been a rat or any other animal in there.

I patched the bathroom flyscreen and for the next week I dutifully shut all my windows at night. I also put a small live-capture trap in my garden to see if I could capture whatever the problem animal was. The only thing that the live capture trap managed to do was startle a very bewildered looking brushtail possum who was far too big to fit in the trap, but had evidently reached a paw inside to get at the peanut butter and chocolate. After a week of no sign of any would-be housebreaker, I decided I must have given the intruder enough of a fright that it had decided not to come back.

I went away for the weekend with my family, having left the window behind the bathroom fan open, and when I got home on the Sunday evening, Dad accompanied me up to my apartment. Once again, on coming home there was a noise in the vicinity of my bathroom windowsill, but this time Dad immediately went outside and was quick enough to see a rat escaping out of the hole it had chewed in the flyscreen and high-tail it across the garden.

So, I was back to making sure that all windows were shut at night. This annoyed me enough that I decided to fortify the window in the hope that it wouldn't be necessary. Now the window looks like this, with flyscreen to keep the insects out and wire mesh to (hopefully) keep the rats out.

I never thought that I would have rat problems in my apartment, as I didn't think there was any way for them to get inside what is really just a concrete box. Apparently, the temptation of tasty coriander seedlings and snowy weather was enough for them to prove me wrong. I really hate being outsmarted by rodents, so hopefully I have now managed to foil their dastardly invasion plans.

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