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RATS...going, going...

Walkabout
The chickens were relocated last Wed night to a friend's property. I'm currently boarding the nine girls.

Weatherdude wanted to begin killing off the rat population before he leaves at the end of the month. And that, my friends, is a very gross process. Cats are far less gross. Another rat bit the dust on Sat via cat...the Dude found PD nibbling on it. Then on Sunday, WD put down poison and traps. Monday night he cleaned up four dead rats. This morning, I saw PD gnawing on one in the paddock (poisoned, OMG UGH) and then found another in the coop, which is locked to the cats, but baited for the rats. So that's a total of seven rats since the chickens were removed. And we haven't even torn up the coop floor yet. My belief is that each owner has removed livestock to kill rats before selling. The original owners who dropped by in Sept told WD that they had had rats, too. My other belief is that a farm with feed and livestock also has rats.

We've heard of many ways rats can and can't be killed. In the desert, you poison their water supply. End of rats. But here, we annoyed them for the most part, with smoke bombs. We couldn't put down poison because of chickens and cats and children. They weren't interested in traps or bait when there was a plentiful supply of chicken feed. Not that they got into the cans. They just ran around the chickens in the very safe, cat-proofed, hawk-proofed, fox-proofed run. Sigh.

We could see them doing this from the house. The chickens hated them and pecked at them. Rats would jump in the air when pecked, but weren't deterred from the feed. Babies to feed, no doubt.

UGH.

We are very pro animal around here. We have a resident large opossum. We don't feed him, but there he is, living under the deck, stealing cat food when we forget to bring it in at dusk. This year's skunk unfortunately wandered a bit too far and became road kill about a week ao. The skunk's markings were so unusual, we knew it was "our" skunk. No spraying, but the garage has smelled skunky for several weeks. Yet another reason not to leave cat food out.

But rats just multiply. One lovely Templeton rat would not be so bad, much like the bachelor woodchuck. But a colony? Under the coop? Running about boldly? One has to draw the line somewhere.

You do NOT want me to post photos of the dead rats, right?

Frog Out

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( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
sandramcdonald
Dec. 11th, 2012 03:02 pm (UTC)
No dead rat photos, thanks!

I can't even tell you how many cats are coming to my door these days, looking for food.

On the bright side, have never ever seen a rat.
birdhousefrog
Dec. 11th, 2012 03:13 pm (UTC)
they do eat cat food, I have it from someone who cleaned them out of a barn in this area. The woman had put down cat food for feral cats for years and the rats had feasted on it. Not sure why these barn cats weren't killing the rats, but...

Ours are not getting cat food or bird seed and so far haven't come to the house. The goal is to keep them away from it, encourage the brighter ones to move to a neighbor's barn. Shhh!

Three feral cats have been sighted lately, but only one is technically resident. She seems to be a spayed female with some human contact. She's been sitting on our mat for six months now, but won't let us touch her.
ogre_san
Dec. 11th, 2012 05:18 pm (UTC)
Sigh. Unless it's a solitary pet in a cage, there's no such thing as "one rat."
birdhousefrog
Dec. 11th, 2012 05:24 pm (UTC)
Oh that sounds like you speak from experience!
queenoftheskies
Dec. 11th, 2012 05:43 pm (UTC)
I work for a company in the food industry, and the exterminators use traps with a sticky bottom to catch rats. The rats go in and they can't get out and die. I don't know if that's any less gross than poison or not. (Also don't know if it's more expensive.)
birdhousefrog
Dec. 11th, 2012 09:51 pm (UTC)
We've used sticky traps with the mice with great success. We tried them a long time ago with the rats, but they just went around them. They're much smarter than mice. And very sensitive to the smell of poison. But now, they're hungrier and taking more risks...SNAP! :D
casacorona
Dec. 11th, 2012 06:20 pm (UTC)
What are you using to kill them? We have rats in our shed. They LAUGH at poison. They move the bait blocks around. They sneer at strychnine. They ignore traps. I'm contemplating buying an electrocuting trap, but it's a hell of an investment if they stayed away from it.

The coyotes eat outdoor cats, but not rats. We used to have a snake that I think kept them under control, but Snakey departed. The rats probably figured out how to taunt and embarrass it.
birdhousefrog
Dec. 11th, 2012 09:48 pm (UTC)
My nephew in Phoenix works in buildings and says that poisoned water is what they use. Though I'm not sure how well that would work where the horses have to have good water. We couldn't get anywhere with the rats until we moved the chickens several miles away. Now we're getting success with more traditional methods.
dancinghorse
Dec. 11th, 2012 06:30 pm (UTC)
One begins to understand the story of the Pied Piper.

For some reason the rats here aren't a big problem. We have snakes, roadrunners, hawks, and owls--maybe enough to keep them in check? Also a volunteer cat, who sleeps under the house when it's cold. I haven't seen a ground squirrel since he moved in.

Anyway. Wishing you luck. Or a couple of efficient rat predators. (Mongeese?)
birdhousefrog
Dec. 11th, 2012 09:50 pm (UTC)
we're getting some results now that the chickens are gone. I think you have enough predators keeping your rats in check and the horse with nasty hooves, too. If the hens hadn't had their beaks blunted at birth, they might have done more damage. They eat mice, I've seen them do it.
(Deleted comment)
birdhousefrog
Dec. 12th, 2012 12:41 am (UTC)
I think what you did is as nice as the process can be. Because you were attempting to ensure that no other animal ate the rat or the poison. Tonight, an opossum was attempting to eat a (new) poisoned rat. And this morning, the senile cat was attempting it. That's a bit more nerve-wracking.

Still. Tonight's count is 8 dead rats that we've actually located and disposed of. All large adult rats.

(Remember that Kliban cartoon "If I had two dead rats, I'd give you one."?)
(Deleted comment)
birdhousefrog
Dec. 13th, 2012 02:32 am (UTC)
It's a question of cat love.

http://www.amazon.com/Two-Dead-Rats-Kliban-Holiday/dp/0764924109/ref=tag_stp_s2f_edpp_kliban

And if you click on the image, you can see it larger.

If someone really loves you, they will share their rats with you. They won't give you their last rat, but if they have two?

No rats today. All the greedy stupid fat ones are dead, apparently.
jongibbs
Dec. 12th, 2012 09:57 pm (UTC)
Rats = :(
birdhousefrog
Dec. 13th, 2012 02:34 am (UTC)
Urban rats, definitely. Country rats are marginally less ugh, but only marginally. Because there's never just the one rat. And unless you get rid of the livestock and their food, or unless you have really good predators, you can't get rid of the rats. Sigh. Bye-bye chickens. It was the only way. Because you have to put for the fiction that there are no rats when you try to sell a house.
mrsthorsen
Dec. 16th, 2012 01:11 am (UTC)
Oh, man. Yet another thing to think about before we get chickens. I haven't yet seen a rat around here, but there are coyotes and foxes, so I presume that's the reason. That's also the reason we don't have chickens yet, it seems that without a farm dog, you lose too many to the foxes, and we're not ready to take care of a dog. We do have an annoying opossum that loves cat food, though. It's hard to be vigilant enough monitoring the food to keep it away. The first time it came around my 3yo spotted it, and came yelling, "there is an animal not-a-cat eating the cat food!". Not a lot of pictures of opossums in his baby books, go figure.
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