Damson Cottage Garden

Arrrgggggghhhhhhh a RAT!

I’ve just seen the biggest rat… yes I said RAT in the chicken run. It was munching on the chicken food as I wandered towards the run. There was a brief moment of silence when the rat looked at me and I looked at the rat. An expletive from me, followed by a dash by the rat over the fence, and a run from me into the house shouting –  JAMES THERE’S A RAT THE SIZE OF A CAT IN THE CHICKEN RUN!


I know, it’s not rational. I like animals. If I met a pet rat I would give it a friendly pat on the head and wish it well. But a rat ambush is completely different. Very unpleasant.

You can’t blame them. They’re hungry, we leave food on the floor. What do I expect? The thing is, unfortunately they have to go. They eat and soil the chicken food and breed very quickly. I don’t want a large gang of rats in the garden in case they try their luck in the loft. So today is the day I wage war on the local rat population that seem to be living from the free supply of food we so generously leave out for them. Like all great generals I have a strategy. A 5 step plan to be precise:

1. Remove food at night from the run as soon as it gets dusky. Rats are generally nocturnal.

2. Store the food in a large plastic, vermin-proof tub in the shed.

3. Use pellets instead of mash. Pellets are easier to clean up if spilt on the ground, whereas mash gets everywhere – very messy. I use a deep tray that the food container is placed in so as little food gets spilt on the floor as possible. Clean up all spilt food.

Tray in chicken run

Tray in chicken run

4. Look away if you are a member of the rat protection and preservation league… Electronic rat trap. OK I know its not nice. But neither is a rat/mouse infestation. I won’t put poison out as I am worried about inadvertently killing the birds/hedgehogs/general wildlife/chickens. The electronic trap seems the most humane way of reducing the population in our chicken run – kills the rat in seconds. At dusk I place it inside the tray we keep the chicken food in during the day and scatter a few bits of chicken food on the base. It gets removed from the run before the chickens are allowed out of their house.

5. A kitten! What an amazing excuse to get another cat to replace our old boys who unfortunately died last year. After our extension is built, the felines will move in.

Marley - chinchilla persian

Marley – chinchilla persian

If you are unfortunate enough to have a mouse/rat problem you have my sincere condolences and commiseration. Been there – we had an issue in our loft. I slept downstairs for weeks until it was sorted – scratching and squeaking in the roof and walls was I believe similar to what it must be like to be haunted. I learnt a lot about things that don’t work. Heres a list of rodent elimination techniques that don’t work- minty smelling ‘rodent repellent’, electronic sonic repellers, actually all ‘rodent repellers’ didn’t work in our experience, old school traps (can trap limbs and not kill the rodent – not nice), sticky paper (just mean), humane traps (supposed to trap the rat/mouse alive) – our mice were way too smart for this.

The way we got rid of the loft issue and frequent trips by the council rat man (who we were on exchanging christmas cards terms with) was:

  • Crowd control: During his frequent visits the rat man set and checked the traps in the loft – this kept numbers down but the problem kept coming back.
  • Access prevention: This is the key. We cut away all ivy and trees with branches that came close to the roof. We also got in the loft to seal every hole we could find. If your house is attached to others get your neighbours to do the same. I think this is the only long term solution.

Rodent infestations aren’t fun. It’s war!

8 Responses to Arrrgggggghhhhhhh a RAT!

  1. Sally says:

    Thank you so much for your post – I have had a problem with rodents and its horrible, it’s lovely to know its possible to get rid of them! Thanks Jane

    • admin says:

      Thanks Sally :) It can be done!

  2. Marion says:

    Rats outside, not good, but acceptable. Rats inside, nooooooo!

    • admin says:

      I Totally agree, critters in the loft – not nice!

  3. Greenfingers says:

    What kind of cat do you have? He’s cool

    • admin says:

      He’s a chinchilla persian – the best type of cat. So friendly and laid back – the perfect pet! Jane

  4. Peter says:

    Good luck with your mission to remove all those pesky critters from your home & garden forever!

    • admin says:

      Thanks Peter! Jane

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