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Monthly Archives: June 2014

This rattie rascal managed to go into the furthest corner, climb the tallest shelf and sneak into the top box, just for a moment of peace and quiet away from the rest of the clan. 😉

 

Don’t underestimate the cleverness of rats. Having a pet rat can bring great joy to your life. But, like any curious and intelligent creatures, they can be mischievous and outwit you.

If you need convincing, quickly read: Why you need to ratproof your home. 😉

Don’t wait until one of your favourite tops / belts or expensive gadgets / ear phones are munched up by these munchkins. Making your home ratproof only means getting organised and keeping things neat, so take this as a motivation to get your life in order:

– Seal all potential holes

Ratties are explorers. If you let them free-roam, ensure they cannot possibly escape by checking for and sealing any openings in your home. Remember, if their head can fit through, the hole is big enough for the whole rattie to get through.

– Pack your things away

Get rid of all that clutter. Don’t bother putting it ‘out of reach’ – this concept doesn’t exist in rat world, rats can get anywhere they want, and that’s mostly because they’re so darn stubborn about it! I’ve witnessed rats walk up walls, jump up furniture and pull themselves up with just their upper body strength. They’re amazing acrobats and fun to watch in their adventures.

– Protect your plants

Rats burrow. If you don’t want your plants to be dug out or tunnelled under, place heavy – and I mean heavy – stones on top of your pot plants’ soil. I’ve caught pet rats work in teamwork to remove rocks from my large palm tree pot…

– Organise your cables

Rats love to chew cables, especially when electricity runs through them. I once saw a pet rat electrically charged after she bit through the stereo cable and caused the fuse to blow. She was fine and I suspect she liked it… that tingly feeling on their teeth… Wire your cables through a cable tube or wrap them in a cable zipper.

– Don’t leave food around

Rats are scavengers and will steal your food or anything edible. They won’t necessarily eat it though, but hoard it, and possibly somewhere unreachable. As rats are extremely picky with their food, chances are you end up with it going off somewhere unknown. Always feed your pet rats in their cage, so if they do steal food, they’ll bring it there.

– Clean up after yourself

Rats are not dirty: They groom themselves more often than cats and are naturally housetrained. It is us humans who leave dirt behind that attracts rats in the first place. Don’t blame rats for your bad habits. Clean up right away, so it’s out of the way.

– Prevention is always best

All these simple means are not only keeping your pet rats at bay, but also prevent wild rats from bothering you. Once you have a rat problem, it’s very difficult to get rid of them: Poison is not only inefficient and cruel, it is also likely to kill more wildlife than actual rats.

 

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A bike runs on fat and saves you money. A car runs on money and makes you fat.

A bike runs on fat and saves you money. – A car runs on money and makes you fat.

In Europe I cycled everywhere.

As teenagers it was the only truly independent way to get around and as adults it’s the perfect alternative to drink and driving.

Plus it’s a fantastic exercise, not only for free, but even saving you money on transport.

So when I came to Cape Town I was eager to continue cycling.

However, cycling is seen very differently here:

It’s either a sport or dangerous.

For me cycling is not a sport. It’s a form of transport. I want to get from A to B swiftly and in most cities this means cycling.

For me cycling is not dangerous. After 10 years of cycling in London, I developed a sixth sense that guides me around blind, sleepy or aggressive drivers and especially busses, taxis and white vans.

But in South Africa I was told about a different form of danger: That of crime and violence.

As everything was new to me in Africa, I listened to the ‘Cycling? Oh my god, that is so dangerous!’ comments at first.

I had left my steel steed in London anyway, thinking I could just buy myself a new bike.

Slowly though I got itchy enough to discard any projected fears and get back into cycling. For me, to commute by bike is a bliss I don’t want to miss. Plus, I was meeting more and more cycling enthusiasts who reassured me that cycling in Cape Town is ok.

But first there was another hurdle: Where to buy a bicycle in Cape Town?

In London we just went to Bricklane Market and got us a bike for like 70 quid. Maybe 100 for a real good mountain bike.

The mountain bikes you see in Cape Town are high octane super tuned with auto fitted GoPro. The only alternative are top notch super light and super fast racing bikes. But I was just looking for a normal bicycle!

There is so little demand for commuter bikes that they’re either unavailable or very expensive in Cape Town.

Luckily cycling is becoming more and more popular and it only takes a bit of asking around to find your perfect pedal match:

The Bicycling Empowerment Network (BEN) imports used bicycles from overseas and distributes them to low income areas, but you might be lucky and snatch one up for a good price.

In Woodstock a couple of awesome bicycle shops have sprung up that can be of help:

Cycletraders

Cycleworks

Starling & Hero Bicycle Café

And then of course there is good old Gumtree. While you must always watch out for scams on Gumtree you never know, you might just have one of those amazing encounters where you make friends with the previous owner or where you snatch up a wow bargain or stumble across a real treasure like I did when I found my classic beetle Mavis: https://www.facebook.com/BeetleMavis

Needless to say, I cycle everywhere in Cape Town now, too.

It’s an excellent city to get around by bike, as everything is close by. Of course it offers some challenging exercises with all the hills or well, mountain along the way. And yes, drivers need to wake up to the presence of cyclists, please.

But with green cycle lanes, fanwalk and separate cycle lanes from Sea Point Promenade to Table View, Cape Town is developing into a real cycle friendly city worth exploring on the back of a pedal-powered two-wheeler.

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