Author Topic: Bad year for rats?  (Read 2152 times)

Number Six

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Bad year for rats?
« on: December 19, 2016, 10:58:29 »
Not sure if there's such a thing as a good year for rats but, after many years of keeping a few hens, I've got an infestation of rats in my chicken run and nearby compost bins and a small manure heap. My neighbours are having similar problems (we all have small strips of agricultural land adjoining our gardens). We live in a small village on the western side of Lincolnshire.

Local rat-catcher is using traps in boxes (I have a dog and cat so won't risk poison) using chocolate spread and now also dog or cat food as bait. Score after 2 weeks is 6 dead rats but still more holes appearing or existing ones getting bigger.

Interested to know if anyone else is having similar problems at the moment and, if so, what methods you're using to get rid of the blighters.

Seasons greetings

John


Digeroo

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Re: Bad year for rats?
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2016, 16:51:32 »
Not had a problem this year but had them last year.  They dug a huge hole.  Farmer put out a special rat poison box which allows rat through but nothing else.  He has several cats and dogs.  Haven't seen rats again. 
They were a pain nibbled through the bean stems.

winecap

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Re: Bad year for rats?
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2016, 17:20:42 »
We also are having a bad year for rats here in north Sheffield with frequent sightings through the summer. I haven't actually seen one near my chicken run lately, but did find one had set up home in one of my dalek shaped compost bins. Although I have had chickens for years, various other neighbours have started keeping them in the past year. I suspect this has improved their food supply.
I have taken to leaving lids off the compost bins and emptying them and refilling so they aren't left undisturbed. I guess the rats are looking for comfortable places to retire to through the winter. I am doing my best to send the message that they wont find peace and quiet on my plot. Turning the compost is supposed to speed up the composting, so it doesn't feel like too much of an inconvenience. I have persuaded neighbours to empty out their compost bins also and I get the impression the numbers are going down. Otherwise I tend to rely on the cats and foxes to keep the population in check.

Number Six

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Re: Bad year for rats?
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2016, 18:26:38 »
Good idea about the compost winecap. It's due to be turned over and the manure is ready to use, so that should be 2 food sources disrupted. Also have a dalek compost bin full of apple mulch from making cider which needs to disappear. Will still have to exterminate them (to follow the dalek theme) though and the use of traps seems to be a very slow process.

ancellsfarmer

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Re: Bad year for rats?
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2016, 19:46:49 »
Regulatory change by EU regarding the types of permitted poisons have left "amateurs" without effective means of control. News items from Paris recently have emphasized this result. Some products remain upon the market but are less efficious (therefore "safe"!) Trapping with simple Nipper traps can be recommended and has advantages such as no secondary risks to predators. Use within a box reduces the chance of accidental capture of birds and squirrels. The use of a wire trace fixing the trap to a peg or stake reduces the theft of the filled trap by foxes and kites. Suitable bait for traps include peanut butter, bacon rind and "monkey" nuts in shell(Pierce the nut upon the trap barb to prevent hit & run). It is said that in London, one is never more than 6 feet from a rat. Gives one somebody to talk to when commuting!!
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PondDragon

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Re: Bad year for rats?
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2016, 21:06:01 »
The main thing is to reduce their food supply rather than worrying about traps/poisons. How are you feeding your chickens? We had quite a rat problem before investing in a rat-proof treadle feeder - since then rats have been much less evident and we're getting through a lot less feed. The one we bought is the same as this one: Treadle Feeder: Rat Proof - cost about £40 from a local supplier. There are various other designs available based on the same principle - the feed is protected by a hatch which only opens when the chickens stand on the treadle plate. It's an expensive up-front cost, but purely in reduced food costs I think it pays for itself quite quickly.

We have various compost heaps but I don't think that's so big an issue - they do attract rats but the main problem is where you have a concentrated high quality food source such as chicken feed or wild bird seed. Obviously don't put cooked food scraps on the compost unless you have a sealed bin system.

Number Six

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Re: Bad year for rats?
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2016, 09:23:12 »
Many thanks indeed for the excellent advice Ancellsfarmer and PondDragon. The ratcatcher has started using peanut butter now (I've found it very effective in mouse traps so fingers crossed).

The point about reducing the source of food is, I am sure, the most important thing for me to address. I have been considering a treadle feeder and think that that must be a priority now.

I'll still be sorting out the compost area, but that's part of my normal routine at this time of year anyway. And I certainly never put any cooked food in the heaps - I'm even holding off from putting new raw veg in while we've got this problem.

Again, thank you for your replies.

caroline7758

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Re: Bad year for rats?
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2016, 18:35:01 »
I haven't been feeding the birds this year because we always get rats (we're surrounded by farmland), but I  spotted one yesterday collecting my fallen crab apples, so can't win!

Number Six

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Re: Bad year for rats?
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2017, 13:11:38 »
Well, the battle with rats continues.

I've turned the compost, removed the (very smelly) apple pulp and the hens are now getting used to their brand new treadle feeder.

I have also invested in my own traps (Ratpak bait stations with T-Rex snapback traps). Early days, but after a week using peanut butter as bait to no effect I am now trying some old potted Stilton left over from Christmas. Wondering if they'd enjoy a glass of vintage port and a fine cigar to go with it...

Obelixx

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Re: Bad year for rats?
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2017, 14:09:13 »
We spent 25 years living in rural Belgium with rats a regular problem in the garden but after just a couple of months here we took our car for a service and they found a crater had been eaten out of the insulation in the bonnet!   A first for us.  I put down sachets of poison in the garage and sheds and we  have so far found 3 fat, sleek corpses.  I hide it where the dogs can't get it and the last lot of poison hasn't been taken so it looks like I might have got the problem under control for now.

You need to see about making sure your chicken feed bins are metal and secure with no wee holes for access by rodents.   Try not to feed so much that there is waste left on the ground at night and keep your compost bins moist so they don't nest in there.  I find smearing peanut butter on the sachets is a strong attractant for rats and thus very effective.  I did that over 3 successive nights just before we left our old house last September and it stopped all the rats that had been visiting the scraps form my bird feeders.
Obxx - Vendée France

lezelle

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Re: Bad year for rats?
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2017, 09:30:06 »
Hi Ya, we had rat problems with them digging holes under the raised beds and decking near where I was feeding the birds. Stopped feeding birds and got a professional rat catcher. We have dogs and he used poison cubes on wire, he pushed them down the holes so the dogs would not get them. He assured me that the dogs would have to eat a lot to do any harm and explained what to look for in they did touch them. He also said that a citrus seed is added that dogs won't touch. Two visits and the signs were gone. The decking has been got rid of and I was surprised by the amount of seeds etc under it. I have also given the back hedge a good trim. It's now more open and less hidey places. I have only seen them once in my compost bins but when one of the plotters kept chucks they were all over the place and local housing complained. But he just piled up the chuck droppings against a wall that didn't help. They say keep kicking you bins as you pass as the rats don't like disturbance and change. I have a trap but what do you do with them once caught?

ancellsfarmer

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Re: Bad year for rats?
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2017, 19:21:21 »
Hi Ya, we had rat problems with them digging holes under the raised beds and decking near where I was feeding the birds. Stopped feeding birds and got a professional rat catcher. We have dogs and he used poison cubes on wire, he pushed them down the holes so the dogs would not get them. He assured me that the dogs would have to eat a lot to do any harm and explained what to look for in they did touch them. He also said that a citrus seed is added that dogs won't touch. Two visits and the signs were gone. The decking has been got rid of and I was surprised by the amount of seeds etc under it. I have also given the back hedge a good trim. It's now more open and less hidey places. I have only seen them once in my compost bins but when one of the plotters kept chucks they were all over the place and local housing complained. But he just piled up the chuck droppings against a wall that didn't help. They say keep kicking you bins as you pass as the rats don't like disturbance and change. I have a trap but what do you do with them once caught?

"I have a trap but what do you do with them once caught? "
Seriously?
Options for "dead, trapped rats" :
Bag in black sack and add to General refuse wheelie
Dig deep hole in waste area and bury. Backfill with brick and topsoil. Compact tightly.
Add to established hot bonfire. Seek optimum smoke direction (possibly the neighbour who encourages them!!)
Options for "live, trapped rats in wire cages" :
Despatch humanely out of public view. Refer to options for dead rats-see above. It is your legal and moral duty.
You may not legally transport them, certainly not release them nor bait your pet with them. Remember, although you may have trapped it, somebody else may have been poisoning for them and the corpse could be carrying a fatal dose. Anti-coagulants are not instantanious.
 I had one customer who , while squeamishly purchasing a live capture mouse trap, was gently asked how she would deal with "her" mouse.
She replied " I shall take it to the otherside of the (busy) A24 dual carriageway- it wont get back across there alive"
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lezelle

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Re: Bad year for rats?
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2017, 10:20:55 »
 Hi Ya, from my previous entry, quote

"I have a trap but what do you do with them once caught? "
Seriously?

unquote.

 Seriously?
                  Yes, you said it yourself dispatch humanely out of public view, I have heard taking them and releasing is illegal. There are probably others who would like to know. If you were seen you can bet some one would report it to the RSPCA or such like and even though it's a rat they would still prosecute. To the ordinary punter trapping them live presents yet another task. I have some bait given to me by some one who knew the law was changing and bought loads and having spoken to and watched the professional am quite happy to deal with my problem should the need occur. I have had to answer for dispatching a hare at the side of the road but that's another story. Lets hope it all turns for the better


Robert_Brenchley

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Re: Bad year for rats?
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2017, 16:43:10 »
I only use dead traps, and chuck them in the compost. They rot.

Number Six

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Re: Bad year for rats?
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2017, 13:37:17 »
Delighted to report good progress but obviously still not being complacent.

Nothing went near my new traps for over a fortnight, using mainly peanut butter as bait (I replaced the stilton after just a couple of days). Then added some left-over cooked streaky bacon bits and got 5 rats in 2 days. All quite young so clearly a new litter that hadn't learned to be trap-shy.

Together with the ones that the rat catcher caught, that made a total of 13 in 2 months. Mind you, at the rate they re-produce, that's probably a meaningless statistic. Meanwhile the traps are staying out - no point in storing them in the shed when there might be new 'customers' about.

Many thanks to all for your helpful comments.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2017, 13:41:17 by Number Six »

ancellsfarmer

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Re: Bad year for rats?
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2017, 20:47:14 »
Congratulations, keep at them. Hopefully your success rate will taper down, to just one or two per month!
In my native part of Sussex, the "old-timers" used to trap mice, permanently, just to keep the population manageable. They would skin the mice, and cure the tiny skins and have the wife sew them together to make waistcoats with mice skin fronts, thereby displaying their success.
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PondDragon

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Re: Bad year for rats?
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2017, 22:08:56 »
How are you finding the treadle feeder?

Number Six

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Re: Bad year for rats?
« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2017, 09:35:48 »
Thank you for your congratulations Ancellsfarmer. Found another small one yesterday. Rather hoping it was the last of that 'new' batch and not the start of another one! Still, have now filled in all of the holes and exposed tunnels to make it easier to spot any new activity.

And for PondDragon, I can thoroughly recommend a treadle feeder. It took less than a week for the hens to get used to it. There's very little spillage so I'm no longer feeding all the wild birds in Lincolnshire and, importantly, there's much less food for vermin. They're not particularly cheap (I paid £37 incl p&p) but am confident of recouping the cost in time.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/NEW-GALVANISED-CHICKEN-POULTRY-DUCK-TREADLE-FEEDERS-8-5-15-25Kg-HEAVY-DUTY-/272214501606?var=&hash=item84f3768c07

hartshay

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Re: Bad year for rats?
« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2017, 10:07:56 »
We get rats coming in from surrounding fields every winter..plus mice, rabbits, pheasants, moorhen and every possible beast that can eat your crops or seedlings.  Rats totally consumed 6 pumpkins  i had stored out of reach in a week!  Local farmers using 'hundredweights' of bait to save their crops near watercourses here.  We need a really cold spell and a bit of snow to slow them down here.

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Re: Bad year for rats?
« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2017, 10:07:56 »

 

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