I have three dogs – Makea Fluffy Bear, Ama Mouse and Fynnie Puss. Makea is a Finnish Lapphund, Ama and Fynn are Finnish Spitz. The Finnish Lapphund was originally bred to herd reindeer and to guard the family, while the Finnish Spitz’s role was to hunt small game like grouse and squirrels. Each dog barks a lot but usually for different reasons, so between them they have all bases covered. Much of our evening is spent barking at the possums that walk the telecommunications cable or at rodents that may or may not be frequenting their domain.
Unfortunately rodent numbers are up again and food sources are down. So life is very exciting for the pooches. This is not our first rodeo with the rodents. Several years ago, backyard chooks were quite the vogue and at least four sets of neighbours had them. With so much grain in the offing, the rodent population exploded. That was fine while the rodents weren’t in our house, but during the depths of winter, they somehow breached the walls. They got into our wall cavity and roof space. We could hear them scritching in the wall beside our bed at night. Ama could also hear them. As we lay in bed, Ama would run back and forth over our faces, barking at the rodents on the other side of the wall.
The situation became impossible as the rodents were well fed and weren’t interested in the traps we set for them. So we reluctantly called in the pest exterminator and he put bait out in the roof space. I suspect a number of our neighbours also resorted to chemical extermination at the time. Despite advising us that our dogs would not be harmed if they ate a poisoned rat, Ama subsequently fell ill. Fluffy was a bit off too. I quickly jumped online and discovered that secondary poisoning of wildlife had been reported in several European countries due to the use of the same rodenticide. Both girls (Fynn had not yet joined the family) had a course of Vitamin K as a precaution against possible secondary poison. We also quickly removed the baits from the ceiling and consigned them to the bin.
Anyway, we discovered that the rats had gained access to the house via the air-conditioning pipes. They had chewed through the insulation foam. Crafty buggers. However, they only came inside when it rained. So we waited for a sunny day and replaced the sealant. Problem fixed.
I often wonder whether consuming baited rodents all those years ago may have caused Ama’s liver damage.
Some readers may be aware that there has been a huge mouse plague in eastern Australia. Mouse numbers in the cropping regions have recently declined due to widespread flooding. At the height of the plague, there was a shortage of Vitamin K, and a number of dogs died for lack of treatment.
In Canberra city, the rodents have been spared death by drowning. Instead hunger is a problem as backyard gardens have been hammered by storms.
It occurs to me that the mouse plague may have been the last straw for the Bogong moth. Each year, Bogon moths normally migrate in their millions from the cropping regions in western New South Wales to the Snowy mountains. However, their numbers, which have been declining, were decimated by the drought and then seemed to suffer a complete population collapse in the year of the mouse plague. To my knowledge, no one has mentioned the mouse plague as a contributing factor in what looks to be the year that the Bogan moth will be declared extinct, but it makes sense, don’t you think? What a disaster.
Anyway, back to the rats. They’re back. Inside.
To be continued.