Rats (Rattus) are a much maligned member of the rodent family and I must admit, I am no fan of the rat. I really did not think about rats one way or another until quite recently when Darlinghurst was hit by a plague of the buggers. At first I saw them in nearby Nimrod Street, where on my night time wanderings I had spotted them darting in to drainage tunnels and on one day time ramble discovered the perfect specimen (above) lying dead in the gutter.
But then Rattus decided to move closer to my home where there was an ample supply of leftover food for them to nibble on.
This collection of bins forms a kind of turning circle in Royston Street. Some clever council person has built an arced gazebo to cover the bins and then planted some lovely flowering Wisteria to grow all over it and perhaps mask the scent of garbage.
But their attempts at beautification don't quite mask the fact that this is one ugly bin monster. I personally only use the bins on the exterior because I couldn't bear to walk inside as the design intended. The design also makes it easy for people to just throw their garbage bags in to the centre and hope for the best, which often leads to spillage and trails of rotten food. The bin monster is also a magnet for unwanted mattresses, cupboards and clothes.
So it's unsurprising Rattus have decided to make the bin monster their new home.
And they are brazen little rodents too. One evening, before the sun had even set, I saw half a dozen rats dancing around on the tops of bins like they were characters in a Disney musical.
The photograph above illustrates just one of the many holes the rats have burrowed in the ground around the bin monster. I can only imagine the horrors that lie inside those holes.
Attempts to capture the critters on camera have proved difficult, as they tend to scamper off on my approach:
But this dead one could not escape my prying lens:
And this one just stood there:
So what to do about the rats? Well, the other night when I was leaving my home, I was very pleased to see the Naughty Cat trotting up the path with a frolic in his step, his tail in the air and a rat in his mouth. He looked very happy with himself too, although I don't think his owner would have been too keen to find a mangled rat on their doorstep.
I didn't want to talk to the cat while the rat was in his mouth, but the next day I went outside for a little chat. I told the cat how impressed I was by his rat catching skills and asked, if he pleased, could he perhaps catch and kill some more rats?
The cat said that was all very well, he didn't have much else to do, but would I please refrain from calling him the Naughty Cat and instead use his real name.
I was so embarrassed. I felt terrible. I apologised and asked him his name.
''Ralf,'' he said.
''Yes, Ralf,'' he said. ''Don't laugh. I can't help it.''
I said Ralf was a fine name for a cat and he should be very proud.
And from now on, the cat formerly known as Naughty, will now be known as Ralf the Rat Catcher.
Ralf the Rat Catcher in Egyptian Pose.