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Monthly Archives: February 2016

Do you need someone to look after your ratties? Then get in touch: :)

Do you need someone to look after your ratties? Then get in touch: 🙂

Need someone to look after your ratties?

I’ve had pet rats for over 20 years and am happy to look after yours while you’re away.

My aim is to give your pet rats a fun vacation, including a daily entertainment programme and rattie treats.

You would need to bring your ratties with their cage, food, bedding and toys to Woodstock, Cape Town. Here’s a list what to pack for your rat.

Kindly get in touch:

Follow Rats Make Great Pets on Facebook and on Google+. 🙂


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Interesting... What's on the other side? Rats are very curious!

Interesting… What’s on the other side?


You know, people say Woodstock is a bad place and anyone who mentions they’re from Woodstock gets this short flicker of pity as a response before everyone chimes in how it’s up and coming… 😛

Being born and bred in Woodstock, I can only say: We’re having nothing but fun!

Here it’s still wild, you can play on the streets, you can hang on the corner, there’s always someone around and people leave their door open, so when you walk down the street you can see everyone’s corridor, like there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Things are happening here, every day is different.

But things got very different lately that we’re having a lot of upheaval with the neighbouring plot. All of the sudden all the peace and quiet is gone, and we’re disrupted by building works and general turmoil.

It used to be a peaceful place where my parents had built a shack from all the surrounding materials and because the supply was endless, they added on another room and extended the back and still had space for a nursery. Times were plentiful and we quickly grew in numbers.

So to have all this unsettled just because of some newbie neighbours who think they can make it all better was really upsetting. And while our philosophy is to stay back and let the bad smells pass (the southeaster usually takes care of things), this lot was particular obnoxious in their mission to ‘clean up the place’.

So one evening when we were enjoying just another awesome sunset with a sip of dad’s homebrew, we got an idea: Let’s just run over to the neighbour’s property, break in and poop all over the show!

And we did just that, and even took photos of it and posted them on the internet:

Rat droppings: Check out a rat's sure telltale sign of having taken over your space!

Check out a rat’s sure telltale sign of having taken over your space!

Rat poo in every corner!

Rat poo in every corner!

We had such a blast!

At first we were scared that someone might see us. But then we thought: So what if they see us? It’s not like they can catch us!

Once in, we had to find our orientation to figure out the best spot to place our poo. I chose the first corner from the corridor into the main landing. Like you can’t miss it! As I sat there, I let my eyes wander and realised what an awesome place this was:

There was rotten wooden beams and rusty roof sheeting scattered on the floor, perfect hiding places. There were bags of cement at the end, awesome climbing walls! And the best of it: There were holes all over the place, and just in the perfect size for us to squeeze through. Shortcuts only a rat can take!

Thrilled by having accomplished our very dangerous but effective task of showing our disgust with our new neighbours, we ran around the house, checking out every corner and nook.

We sneaked up onto each other and ended up playing hide-and-seek and catch-me-if-you-can. Just as my sister got me and was tickling me senselessly – I was laughing so hard, the metal sheeting started wobbling – we heard something!

We both froze instantaneously, but it was too late: The initial fright had made me jump and brought the metal sheeting off balance: it slipped and crashed on the floor with a bang.

“Eiiii!” we screamed in an eardrum-rupturing high pitch of fright and ran off.

But just a couple of jumps down the line we realised no-one was following us and couldn’t help ourselves but giggling from excitement all the way home.

So yeah, I love Woodstock, things are real here. 🙂

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Ouch! When bitten by a rat, first stop the bleeding by applying pressure to the wound with a rubber band. The wound on the top of my index finger is just from the upper incisors, nothing compared to what a rat's lower incisors can do...

Ouch! When bitten by a rat, first stop the bleeding by applying pressure to the wound with a rubber band. The wound on the top of my index finger is just from the upper incisors, nothing compared to what a rat’s lower incisors can do…



Rats should not bite

This might be the nightmare of many, but rest assured: It is very unlikely that a rat would bite you.

I can only think of three scenarios:

1) You encountered a wild rat, who had no place to flee.
2) You’re approaching a pet rat, who has been severely mistreated.
3) You’re handling an overly aggressive male pet rat.

In addition, rats have bite inhibition just like dogs. So a pet rat should not draw blood: They’re allowed to nip you as a warning or during playfight. But if they harm you, you need to apply methods to stop them right away, or you run the risk of getting a biter.


A rat bite is no joke

Scenario 1) applies to me, as I rescued a wildie. In addition she had daughters who all looked like her and I sometimes mixed them up with severe consequences. Mimi Von der Strasse is a rat to reckon with.

So I’ve had my fair share of rat bites and it is no laughing matter:

Rats’ teeth are razor sharp and slice through your skin like through butter. In addition, they don’t just bite, they rather grind and very quickly cut into the flesh beneath your skin.

The good news is that accordingly the incision is precise and thin. If you act fast, this can heal very well and quickly.

And act fast you will need to, as there’s a lot of blood, streaming from your finger. So first priority is to stop the bleeding.


First Aid for rat bites

1. Take a tissue and fold it up into a strong, about 2cm wide bandage. Wrap this as tight as you can around the wound. Make sure your finger is bent so that the wound is closed, don’t stretch it open.

2. Take a rubber band and evenly tie it around your finger, but concentrate the pressure mostly on the wound. Strap it quite tightly. Watch out that your finger doesn’t turn blue: Rather than rewrapping, just release one turn of the rubber band.


Ensure the rat bite gets looked after

Resist the temptation to look if it’s ok yet. It won’t be. And it’ll start bleeding again like hell.

This is only a temporary solution to stop the initial bleeding. There are other ways. I tried cayenne pepper once, but it’s difficult to apply and it burns.

Removing the tissue can open the wound again, rather wash off any paper that gets stuck to the wound.

Once the bleeding is under control, you can clean the wound with disinfectant and bandage it properly, a plaster might be sufficient.

Just to be on the safe side, check that your tetanus vaccination is still up to date. Despite common belief, there is little chance you could catch a disease from a rat. But any bite can lead to infection, so consulting a doctor might be advisable.


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Warning! Deadlines are much closer than they appear. ;)

Warning! Deadlines are much closer than they appear. 😉


1) Keep deadlines real

Have a concrete goal. Ideally break down your goal into something tangible. Something that can be measured and is a clearly defined outcome. Be clear what it is you want to achieve.

This is especially important when it comes to professional relationships and managing expectations:

“Many times, clients don’t always know what information you might need or what variables in the project could change the scope entirely. So it’s up to you to ferret out those details. Ask directed questions to get to the specifics, and don’t move on until you are confident that you know what you’re getting into.” – SitePoint


2) Keep deadlines realistic

An overambitious deadline can trigger resentment or giving up before even trying. Don’t provide an excuse for failure by setting ill-informed deadlines. Make sure the people working on the task have a say on the deadline.

Find your sweet spot – Reduce your time by 15 to 20%:

“You’re going to see how your efficiency is going to increase, and you’ll be able to do it without breaking a sweat. And then keep reducing, little by little. By 5 minutes, by 10 minutes, by 15, by another 5 to 10%. Keep reducing it until you find your sweet spot without going extreme.  You can use this process over and over again, on any and all tasks. Until you find that deadline that is short enough to give you that good amount of pressure that keeps you motivated, but long enough not to waste your time. That’s your sweet spot.” – High Performance Lifestyle


3) Make your deadline achievable

There are things you don’t have control over which can make it impossible to set a fixed deadline. Sometimes we just have to learn patience…

Include a buffer for any eventualities. Because, you know, life:

“Assume you’ll have last-minute issues. In managing people, I’ve noticed there are a lot of people who think, “That draft is due at close of business Wednesday, so I’ll write it Wednesday morning, which will give me plenty of time.” And it would have – except that they were out sick Wednesday, or had to field a client crisis, or otherwise couldn’t work on it that day and missed the deadline as a result. Don’t wait until a deadline is looming; work on things well ahead of deadlines, and you’ll more reliably stick to schedules (and often have the bonus of finishing up early).” – Intuit


4) Keep deadlines current

“Many of us procrastinate simply because we don’t see the task as urgent. The trick is making the task part of our ‘present’. In addition, a deadline can appear more present if it’s scheduled for the same day of the week as the day it’s assigned.” – Fast Company


5) Break down a big deadline into smaller deadlines

“The most motivating deadline is the one that is due tomorrow. Unless your five-year project can be broken down into things you need to finish today, it won’t help you beat procrastination.” – PickTheBrain

“In order to avoid a last-minute scramble, try a method called ‘scheduling in reverse’. The key idea here is to start with where you want to end up and move backwards:

Begin by analyzing the work so you know how much time each step or activity will require, and schedule each step or phase in reverse order so you know the latest feasible starting date you can safely use to meet your deadline. Use your experience and judgment to divide the task into short, manageable steps, each with its own deadline. Next, start on the beginning deadline date and allow time for each step, calculating backward. This calculation also gives you the target starting and ending dates for each step of the project.” – Baker Communications


6) Make the deadline count

“An important way to achieve deadlines is to have someone hold you accountable. This can be your boss at work, your partner, or a trusted friend. Choose someone that will ask you about your goals and check in with you. Getting others involved can drastically help you stay focused so that you have both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation to get your goal achieved.” – Mike Delgado

Have regular status updates, so you always know where you are on the timeline and everyone’s in the loop. It’s easy to keep track of tasks with the help of online tools.


7) Reward yourself for making the deadline

Remember to reward yourself when accomplishing a deadline. If you don’t, who will?

“Operant Conditioning:
– Use specific rewards for specific achievements (e.g., after finishing the first half of a chapter, reward yourself with ice cream; after finishing reading the chapter, reward yourself with a CD).
– Remember the Premack principle: David Premack demonstrated an extremely important principle of behaviorism. Activities that people enjoy are effective reinforcers for engaging in activities that people do not enjoy doing. In other words, rewards do not have to be material. To use the principle to reinforce a task, you should write an extensive list of activities you enjoy doing. This list can be generated, according to Premack, by simply observing what you spend a lot of free time doing. The principle maintains that you should engage in a specific enjoyable activity only after you have completed a less enjoyable task.” – University of California, Santa Cruz


8) Take your deadline seriously

Or rather: Take yourself seriously. Can you trust yourself to put in the effort and meet your deadline? Can you uphold accountability even if it’s just yourself you’re accountable to?

It is easy to find excuses, but in the end you’re only fooling yourself.

At the same time, don’t beat yourself up when you’ve missed a deadline. It’s not a train smash – as Douglas Adams put it: “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” 🙂



There's a big difference between EPS and XPS when choosing polystyrene boards for insulation purposes.

There’s a big difference between EPS and XPS when choosing polystyrene boards for insulation purposes.


Polystyrene is not like Polystyrene: There are many different uses for many different types of polystyrene.

Not all polystyrene sheets are usable for insulation.

For example, if they were made for packaging purposes, they probably don’t have many benefits for insulation.
In addition there can be  safety implications: Polystyrene is highly flammable, that’s why it has been treated with flame retardants when manufactured for insulation purposes.

There are two different types used for insulation: EPS and XPS, with XPS being the much more efficient option:

EPS = Expanded Polystyrene Insulation is less dense and cheaper than the other polystyrene insulation. It is also less effective.

XPS = Extruded Polystyrene Insulation is more expensive but also more effective:
– XPS is more moisture-resistant than EPS
– XPS foam holds R-value better than EPS

So when you’re looking for insulation for your home, make sure you ask for fire-safe XPS. 🙂

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It's all Chinese to me: What's the best spec for a roof overhang? One thing is clear from this Chinese temple: The more the merrier! ;) It’s all Chinese to me: What’s the best spec for a roof overhang? One thing is clear from this Chinese temple: The more the merrier! 😉


Why have a roof overhang?

Roof overhangs protect your house from rain, sun and even wind, as the eaves can have impact on the wind loading on the roof.

The damages these elements can cause to your roof are not to be taken lightly.

In fact, many experts state that every house should have a roof overhang.


The bigger, the better?

If it’s about protecting your windows and doors, it seems yes, the longer your roof overhang, the better. In addition, a roof overhang can lower your energy costs.

Of course there are engineering factors that restrict the length of the overhang.

However, it’s far more common that roof overhangs are built too stingy.


The ideal spec for roof overhangs

The size of the roof overhang depends on the property.

For example: On very tall buildings, there are hardly any benefits of roof overhangs as the surface areas of the walls are so high. But roof overhangs are a great system to protect houses 3 stories and under.

GreenSpec mentions an emerging rule-of-thumb that the overhang should be equivalent to a third of the overall wall height for protection from rain.

But that would mean we build multi story buildings with a roof for every floor, like a Chinese temple. 😉

So my advice is: Try and incorporate as much roof overhang as possible. 🙂


Also read: What is the ideal spec for stairs?

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If you see this: '#' and remember 'number sign', then this article is for you. :)

If you see this: ‘#’ and remember ‘number sign’, then this article is for you. 🙂

A hashtag is a way to categorise your content on social media.

Just like in a supermarket where you have all sweets in one place, if you hashtag your content with #sweets, you can also find everything relating in one place, e.g.:

And just like in the supermarket, the lure of #sweets can be abused:
Even the Oxford dictionary warns in their definition of hashtag:
“Spammers often broadcast tweets with popular hashtags even if the tweet has nothing to do with them.”

As social media are all about interaction, hashtags are a way to enter the conversation online: By tagging your content with a certain keyword, motto or phrase you give others interested in this topic the chance to read your opinion and respond to it.

Most social media platforms support hashtags, so they’re worthwhile exploring for Content Marketing purposes.

But make sure you follow Best Practices for hashtags to avoid a hashtag PR disaster such as #Susanalbumparty. 😉


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