Tuesday, 17 January 2012

With a very heavy heart

The trouble with creating a wildlife friendly garden is that you can't be picky about which wildlife moves in. After four years we have seen our first representative of Rattus Norvegicus, and whilst this one was small, sleek and fairly attractive*, if there is one there will be dozens nearby. Ignoring them is not an option. I can tolerate mice coming into the house occasionally but rats are another matter entirely, and once the birds start breeding the pheasant chicks won't stand a chance if we have a rat colony under the shed or log store.

One of our friends is a gamekeeper and spends much of his life raising pheasant. On his advice this particular chemical is said not to transfer if another predator eats the body.

There was a very good reason why I spent all yesterday afternoon working on the compost bins. I've covered all vegetable scraps with at least 6" of pony poo and for the time being will put kitchen stuff in the council bin, not where rats can find an easy midnight feast.



It is with a very heavy heart I have put packets of poison under the log store and shed, and around the compost area but it has to be done. The bags are tucked away where (hopefully) nothing other than rats will get to them and I'll check in a few days time to see if they've been disturbed. Rats are neophobic and highly intelligent, it may be a while before they touch the bait, if at all.




* OK, I know that's nuts but a friends daughter used to keep pet rats and they were not at all unpleasant.

13 comments:

  1. Uh oh, not good. I'm with you on the need for an urgent solution, please let me know how you get on with this. My BIL has something of a problem in his garden, donkey and chicken feed being the main attractions.

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    1. Given how much land your BIL has, I suspect he will always have rats. Assume he has the animal feed in secure, galvanised bins? I'll let you know what happens, but it could be a week/10 days before the rat(s) goes near the bait bags.

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  2. I too would like to know how you get on with this new poison. With our rat family, we need to find the route that the rats are taking into the roof space. We would have to be very specific about where bait was put down as we have cats, dogs, foxes, badgers and so many garden birds who do not need to come into contact with poison. I can understand how difficult this must be if you have pheasant hens and their chicks around.

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    1. Yuk, so sorry to hear they're getting into your house. Very difficult to know where to put the bait. One suggestion is inside lengths of drainpipe but I'm told rats are likely to try and drag the stuff back to their dens and if they drop it on the way then any other animal could get to it. That's why I've confined mine to the log store/compost area and crossed fingers.

      As I said on your blog, if I don't do something then ground nesting birds won't stand a chance this season, nor will the pheasant chicks when our Mums bring them here for lunch, but I hate putting any poison down.

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  3. Rats make lovely pets simply because they are so intelligent. I used to know one called Heseltine and he was quite adorable. But let's face it Bilbo, wild rats are a different thing and you have to harden your heart or they will overrun your territory and make it theirs. So good luck. Best to get on with it before there are any more of them. We always have to keep top side of them on the farm and do it mainly with cage traps.

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    1. Thanks Pat, I know there is no choice. In a way, I'm surprised we haven't seen one before (and it is only the one we have seen, and can't find obvious signs of a regular 'run'). I also have a trap set but if I get a live catch I'll have to have the gamekeeper friend despatch it (no guns here).

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  4. Uuugghhhh! I hate rats - something about those tiny feet... yeeeuch - and have had to put traps down here as they nest in my tiny back garden shed (it's actually more like a cupboard), and then fall on me from the shelves above when I poke my head in to retrieve a tool. Vile.

    Good luck with yours. I don't envy you!

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    1. Oh Scarlett, that's awful. Apparently they can get through a gap 13mm wide so good luck clearing out your shed.

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  5. IT is sad to have to resort to killing things but sometimes it has to be done. I even feel guilty when I kill slugs! I have mixed feelings about rats - hate the thought of them being near but find them quite cute too.

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    1. Do you have a problem at the allotments Sue? Given that rats will eat near enough anything, I wonder how many times the loss of pea shoots (or similar) has been blamed on slugs but might be Ratty instead?

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  6. Finally I can comment - blogger isn't banning me any more! I'll be interested to hear how you get on with the bags - in my experience they don't bother with them. The secret to drainpipes is using bait blocks which have holes through them so the rats can not drag them out and have to eat them in situ. That way no birds can get near (and birds won't normally eat anything blue - hence the colouring). The most likely place for your little friends to be nesting is in the compost heaps (warm, food and no disturbance) and the best way to get them to take the bait is to find their runs (normally easy to locate) and place the bait along them. Good luck! ps - the only way to stop them getting into compost bins is to build them on slabs cause they normally dig in from underneath.

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  7. I've just realised the last comment didn't mkae sense!! You wire the bait blocks into the pipes so that they can not be removed. Sorry, must have been on the wine at lunch time (Joke - I'm not that bad)!

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    1. Glad to have you back m'dear (ruddy technology!) Actually the last post made complete sense. It's only been a week so I'll give the bags a few more days before we look to plan B (I do have some old drainpipe laying around if necessary). We have only seen the one rat, and although I've looked for runs I haven't spotted anything yet, neither has LP, and he used to work on a farm so has a good idea what to look for.

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