"Cranbrook has been invaded by giant, genetically mutated super rats."
Well, if there is a scarier headline in the world, I can't quite imagine it. Actually, sure I can.
"Kimberley ski hill over-run by shark-nadoes."
"Extra-terrestrials land space craft over Jimsmith Lake."
"Abominable snowman terrorizes Slaterville."
We could go on and get ever more ridiculous. But the thing is, that one about the rats is true.
Researchers have revealed that a breed of mutated super rats that are immune to conventional rat poisons is swamping Cranbrook.
Dr. Dougie Clarke says, "I think people should be concerned about these resistant rats because of public health concerns — because they carry disease and various other bacteria and viruses — and they also damage buildings ... they cost billions of pounds of damage worldwide."
Did you catch the clue? That's right: this is not Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada. Thank heavens. This is Cranbrook, Kent, United Kingdom.
The terrifying news about the super rats (shiver) appeared in the Kent and Sussex Courier last week and popped up in my Google news alerts. After watching the video attached to the article, which shows rats the size of badgers, practically, crawling all over one another in their rush to over-run the other Cranbrook, I had to go wash my hands.
I'm not even particularly squeamish about rats. There were many times when I was waiting for a train in the underground of my hometown of Sydney, Australia, and rats would scurry across the tracks 10 feet from my toes. Part of urban life, I would think to myself. That said, I much prefer that wasps and crows are the pests of my current urban life.
Meanwhile, the other Cranbrook has to wait for government legislation that would allow it to develop new poisons to take on the mutated super rats. Waiting for government! The rats will be running government by the time that legislation is passed.
Not so far away, there was also a serious rat problem in Vancouver earlier this month, reported the CBC.
Backyard composting bins under the Burrard Bridge attracted a horde of rodents, which spread into the playground of a nearby daycare. Childcare providers had to keep children indoors to keep them from the rats' grasp.
Apparently, in this case, someone dropped off a big load of food scraps into compost bins at a community garden. The rats caught the scent and before you know it, they're partying like it's 1999.
The city had to remove the compost bins and call in exterminators to deal with the rat problem.
Selfishly, I find all of this very reassuring. We don't have a rat problem here in Cranbrook, British Columbia. If we as a community were to make a list of our problems (I'm pretty sure potholes would take the top 10 spots on the list), rats would not be one of them.
Rodents, perhaps — gophers are quite at home in Cranbrook fields and yards, but they are not nearly as intelligent as rats.
Most of them have a death wish — just last week, one dumb gopher decided to introduce itself to my small terrier. Sat right in front of him, chirping away.
Before this point, my dog had heard the chirping but never associated it with the small, fast-moving furry creature he could now see was producing the noise. He proceeded to spend the next half an hour chasing the gopher all over the field.
The creature would pop into one of its holes as the dog approached, but instead of staying down there, it would pop out of another hole, and off the dog would go to that one. My dog is too small (and, to be honest, his brain is not large enough to tackle the problem), but other canines would be more successful. Hence, I don't think we can call gophers a problem, since they will surely keep their own numbers down.
So rather than dwelling on all the issues Cranbrook has to deal with using our limited tax dollars, let's focus on some good news today: we do not have giant, genetically modified super rats. Hurrah.
Sally MacDonald is a reporter at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman