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Rat or Fox...what do you reckon.

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For the past couple of nights 4 of my girls have had a nocturnal visitor.


There has been evidence of digging, such as scratch marks in the earth, plies of earth and the beginnings of a tunnel appearing under a portion of the paving slabs.


I have filled the hole back in, stamped it down well and put extra rocks on the Eglu skirt just at this point.


I bought some tent pegs and put them across the area and we'll have to see.


Here is a pic of the evidence


I think I would prefer it to be a rat than a fox. I'll get the bu**er.

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This is what a rat hole looks like:




Rats are much smarter than foxes: they realize that they have to start their hole some distance away because of (1) the skirt and (2) other defences such as bricks and plantpots. They love my light soil, and are advancing on all fronts as fast as I fill in the holes. They have got in several times, but I am getting better at spotting the signs now.


How do I know this wasn't a fox? Because whatever got in ate the layers' pellets and didn't fancy the chickens.

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The ice cube will be presented to you nestling in a Gin and tonic. :lol:


Have got some wild animal deterrent from B&Q and youngest son has trimmed his hair so will sprinkle the sweepings around.


The Eglu is as well anchored as I can reasonably make it so I'm hoping whatever it is will give up trying.

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I hope its not a fox Egluntine!


I bought the run pegs from Omlet and found them fantastic. They come with a handle that screws the pegs in. Much better than oridinary tent pegs. No way a fox could burrow half way then 'lift' the run.


Good luck with the hair and get him to pee around the eglu too! :shock::wink:



Edited for shocking spelling

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Got some already Christianl. Plus half a ton of masonry holding the skirt of the run down. Whatever it is would have to be mightily powerful to lift it.


Had another look at the stuff for deterring wild animals. May have to rethink that one as it contains ammonium sulphate.


I was going to spray the dug area with it but it will not be good for the hens so may spray it further away from the perimeter of the runs.

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I think it's probably a fox or dog. But I think the reason it's trying to dig under the rocks is because you've bypassed part of the intended method of protection of the run. By putting rocks covering the skirt, you've give the fox a visual sign that he needs to dig under the rocks. So, he starts right at the edge. There's just soil there so he can dig.


The point of the skirt is that the fox comes as close as he can to the run, and starts trying to dig. But the skirt sticks out and he can't get through it. He's not bright enough to back off a foot or so and try to dig under. But, by putting the rocks completely covering the skirt, you've bypassed that protection - the closest the fox can come to the run is the edge of the rocks, which completely clover the skirt.


Just a thought, anyway!

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8) John has said exactly what I was thinking but couldn't think how to phrase!

When the forum started, we discussed weighting down the skirt with bricks or paving slabs.

BUT, bricks are not heavy enough, nor pieces of slab, a fox can flip them easily whilst digging, they are strong & expert diggers once on a mission.

I don't mean to sound negative Egluntine, I'd just rather point out any weaknesses in case your visitor is a fox.

If you look at Gallina's photo, she has used very heavy planted pots, brilliant. The other way is to have the run & skirt surrounded by slab paving, or a plank edging so it can't start the dig so near.

I'd certainly do something right now. Whatever happened to the dog that had been wearing the Burberry? Gulp.

Being dim, I couldn't see a hole in the pic. Was the photo after you had stamped the earth down or is it my eyes? If there's any chance of a fox, I'd start Fort Knox today. Do keep us posted on any further clues! :D

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Well it has been back this time the hole is definately "rat sized". It goes under the paving slab, is about 4" wide and about 6" long. Filled it in again and stamped it well down.


The run is well screwed down with Omlet pegs and ordinary tent pegs as well as being weighed down with an assortment of bricks and boulders.


We are having some work done on the garden after Easter and the hens are to be relocated....will make it even more impenetrable.


Interestingly, this is the Eglu that was nibbled from below by a rat.


Thanks for your thoughts Cinnamon, John and Sheila...will bear them in mind when relocating.

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:) Aha, well, a rat is far easier to deal with than a fox, so that's a relief. However, it won't be just a rat. I won't leave another post full of advice or I'll sound like a "know it all". But, sadly, I'm now a vermin expert as our garden & all our road have been over run with rats. Thwere's not much I can do about them in the sewers down our road, but they're not staying in my garden! So, I'd just say...get rid!!

Hopefully your planned hen relocation will help you with this, but I wouldn't ignore the fact that rats are around, it can take a while to deal with & they are harmful to hens.

Glad it wasn't a fox though!


A rat wearing a Burberry coat, took it off whilst digging? :lol:

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:shock: Yuk...but, from experience, I would leave the holes and put the bait in them. It's half the battle when you know where they run. You'll need loads possibly, keep dropping it in the hole until you eventually have a good clear few weeks.

They tend to follow regular runs so it's really helpful having a hole as a clue. They are very neo sensitive so may not trust new bait, but leave it in the hole, it's the best way.


Chickenfeed contains an antidote to the bait (vit k or something) so, and this is wise anyway) be as scrupulous as you can about not leaving food overnight.

The faster you act, the better it will be, they breed faster than you can bait if you're not careful and they can harm chickens.

I'm the same, I don't want to sound ruthless about rats, but it's either them or the chickens & family.

Sorry rats. :twisted:


Good luck Anne :) ...we've been over run here, mostly when it rains. Just when I think I have it sussed it rains & there are more! Probably coming up the sewers, yuk, yuk, yuk.

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Rats rarely have just one hole: there will be others. Check under the poo tray, and at the front middle of the Eglu.


An easy way to find out if the rats have set up home under the Eglu is to turn the hosepipe on full-blast down the hole. They will soon run out via another exit.


As someone who has had both rats and foxes, rats are infinitely preferable. You can fill in the holes easily, cover them with bricks, and then keep a close eye on the situation every day. I did this for a few weeks, combined with bringing all food indoors at night, and they seem to have lost interest.


I learnt with great interest on this forum that layers' pellets contain the antidote to rat poison, so the rats should never be given access to them at night.


We have more urban foxes than I have ever seen before, all different sizes. The cubs were born early this year and are now roaming around on their own. They are quite cute, but lethal.

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Thanks Sheila and Gallina. Will follow your advice. Will get the hosepipe out tomorrow.


The fact about the vitamin k is interesting...I didn't know that.


In an odd way I did feel happier about it being a rat.


Doesn't explain the Burberry dog coat though.

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Make sure that the rat traps are under cover in the sort of places that rats like to run, otherwise you will catch birds. The traps only work once or twice: the rats soon learn that they are dangerous and steer clear of them.


Poison is slower but works in the end, as long as the rats can't get at the chicken food. We are rat-free at last.

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This is interesting....well to me anyway.

I put a vicious rat trap at each of the two sites that the rat has been digging for the last week or so...(and I have been flooding with a hosepipe and refilling every morning :roll: ).

Anyway this morning, the two traps were still at the ready, but the rat had made no attempt to dig at either site, or elsewhere as far as I could see. Do you think he knows!

Will continue to set the traps, and will keep putting poison down (safely in bait boxes) till the battle is won.

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