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Mrs Frugal

Rats

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Egluntine has written a very informative piece on rats in the garden with some ideas on how to get rid of the blighters if they move in!

 

Rats in the garden

 

How do I know if I have got them?

 

There will be

 

~Signs of digging around the Eglu

 

~Signs of gnawing if you have a wooden coop

 

~Holes in the ground, around sheds, under paving slabs, around drains, in dry stone walls

 

~Damage from gnawing to plastic bins, especially if they contain food.

 

~Droppings…black, spindle shaped and about 10mm long. Shiny if fresh, dull if old.

 

~Tunnels in the compost heap.

 

~You might notice that the hen’s food is being eaten faster than usual.

 

~You or your neighbour :? will spot them.

 

 

Are rats dangerous?

 

Yes. They carry disease, and are vicious.

~They are vermin and every attempt should be made to get rid of them.

 

~The main disease they carry is Weill's Disease. This can cause flu like symptoms when bacteria enter the body through cuts in the skin or through contact with contaminated water.

 

~They may also carry salmonella, a bacterium which causes food poisoning.

 

~ They are usually infested with parasites too.

 

Where do they live?

 

~Rats are very hardy and adaptable and will live where they can find food, water and shelter.

 

~In homes they can live under floors, in cavities in walls and loft spaces.

 

~In gardens they will live in holes in the ground, compost heaps, under sheds, and decking and in dry stone walls.

 

~Their main habitat is in drains & sewers and infestations are frequently associated with defects in these systems.

 

How do they affect my chickens?

 

~They will steal their food, drink their water and contaminate it.

 

~They may steal eggs.

 

~They may kill young chicks living outside.

 

~They may contaminate stored feed by gnawing into the container, and urinating and defaecating in it.

 

~They may attack and injure or even kill the hens.

 

What can I do to avoid them?

 

~Tidy the garden and eliminate all potential hiding places such as long vegetation and piles of logs or rubbish.

 

~Clear out all debris under sheds and particularly decking, which is a very popular hiding place for rats. Use a hose pipe.

 

~Store all animal feed in metal bins with a secure lid. Weigh the lid down with a brick if secure it with luggage cords if need be.

 

~Keep the chicken accommodation clean and tidy.

 

~Try to clear away any spilled food and bring in the feeders and drinkers at night.

 

~Be careful about your compost heap. Do not put meat, fish or bones in it unless it is the sort specifically designed to deal with this sort of thing.If you add other foodstuffs it is a good idea to cover it with a shovelful of earth. This helps stop the smell of food enticing the rat to come and take up residence, and it is also good for the compost heap as it introduces beneficial organisms.

 

~Place your compost heap on weldmesh or paving slabs with gaps small enough for worms to enter the bin. This will prevent rats from tunnelling in from below.

 

~Don’t leave black bags out on the path for the bin men for longer than is absolutely necessary, as they will attract rats, especially if they contain foodstuff.

 

~If you notice any signs of tunnelling, fill the hole immediately and put a brick over it.

 

~Rats hate change so keep moving things about, especially around likely or suspected nesting spots.

 

~Rats are supposed to hate the smell of humans, so an old unwashed article of clothing left near the Eglu might deter them.

 

I’ve got rats….what should I do?

 

Rats are vermin and must be eliminated.

 

~Have a major tidy up, taking note of the points above, especially clearing under sheds decking and checking the compost heap for tunnels. Use the hosepipe in all these areas.

 

~You can set traditional traps. The snag with this is that you may occasionally trap other creatures, and you will be faced with the grisly task of disposing of the corpse. Also, you must make sure that they are not set whilst pets and children are around.

 

~Peanut butter, chocolate, cat food, sausage meat are all suggested as items with which to bait the trap. Watch your fingers!

 

~If you use live catch traps, you will be faced with a vicious animal which will require despatching humanely, either with a clean blow to the head or by shooting, which is not an option for most back yard chicken keepers.

 

~Releasing them into the wild is not a legal option, so it renders the humane trap worthless in this situation. The only advantage is that any other creatures accidentally caught can be released.

 

~Drowning them is illegal and you would face prosecution if caught.

 

~Place bait boxes around the garden, along places where rats are likely to run, such as straight walls, behind sheds, and near to any holes. Rats will only eat the bait in the absence of other food, so be fastidious about cleaning up after your hens, and remove their food at night.

 

~There are two types of bait available for home use. One is the traditional anticoagulant based poison, and the other works by dehydrating the animal, ie Eradibait.

~Follow the manufacturers instructions to the letter and be fastidious in ensuring that children and pets can’t access the poison.

 

~Depending on your situation, you may have to bait or set traps continuously to prevent rats returning.

 

~Dogs. Occassionally it is possible to obtain the services of a couple of working terriers. Not an option for many town dwellers, but they can successfully get rid of an infestation, if only temporarily.

 

Safety.

 

~Ensure that children and pets cannot access the bait or traps at any time.

 

~Store any unused rodenticide in it’s original packaging, an place it where children can't reach it.

 

~Fastidiously wash any utensils used in its preparation.

 

~Wear gloves when dealing with any corpses.

 

~Double bag any corpses or spent bait and dispose of in the dustbin. Do not bury them as they may be eaten by another creature.

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