Rats with fluff

Autumn deck

I sit in my reading chair and swear as I see the ghastly squirrels scampering back and forth on the deck, a few feet away. They were never this forward before. They are probably hungrier, and there are more of them. They are really nothing but rats with a slightly fluffier tail.

My thoughts get this far every time, and then I think that since I know how squirrels reason, I should be more sympathetic. Because they are nice creatures, only wanting to stock up on food for the winter. After which I pull myself together and tell myself that I do not know anything of the kind. I just happen to have read Kate Thompson’s Switchers series. Tess, the main female character, can switch and become an animal. She often chooses to become a squirrel, and you can read about life as seen from the squirrel’s point of view.

That does not mean it is real. I mean, it’s not as if Kate actually tried being a squirrel before she wrote the books. I hope she didn’t.

To Tess, in her human form and as a squirrel, rats are horrible. That’s why she’s so reluctant to switch into a rat when she meets another switcher. But she does, and she discovers rats are also quite noble creatures.


The Switchers trilogy is one of those lucky finds. If it didn’t seem too nerdy, I’d tell you that it was ten years ago when Red Fox celebrated some anniversary or other by selling (some of) their books on a bogof offer. Ever the frugal reader I stocked up on as many books as I liked the look of. And once I’d read Switchers I had to go and buy Midnight’s Choice and Wild Blood too. I bet Red Fox knew that would happen.

It’s a fantastic trilogy, and it got me started on all Kate’s other books. But as for her ‘relevant experience’ before writing these books, I don’t believe she switched into an animal at all. Though, you never know, do you? When I think of rats, I try to think of her noble ones.

Squirrel highway

But as for squirrels, I’m afraid I’ve had enough of them. When we first moved here I was taken by the way ‘ours’ travelled through the ash trees, but now that I can’t put down bulbs or bedding plants without them coming along and digging everything up again, I don’t think very fondly of them.

The difference here is that these are grey ones, and I grew up with red ones. We didn’t have them in the garden, but I used to see them a lot on Gallow’s Hill, which was (and still is) a lovely place. Named after people doing you-know-what there in the olden days. Somehow red ones seem nicer. Is there a scientific reason for this?

Future tulips

Nowadays I use chicken wire. We once had a squirrel proof bird feeder. They actively ate the wood! So what chance do tulip bulbs stand? I’m just concerned I’m being lulled into a false sense of security.

2 responses to “Rats with fluff

  1. Psssst. Got a squirrel solution for you right here. Got two, in fact.
    And you’ve been holding out about the deck. Gorgeous.

  2. I’m sure I’ve issued some invitation or other over the years… Though it’s only Adèle Geras who’s managed to come here when the weather actually allowed us to sit out under dry, sunny and warm conditions.

    So are you and the doggies coming round then? Warn them that there is a train track underneath those trees. (Would they like pigeons, too?)

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