bruce Fine wrote:cats, big outdoor cats, raise them outdoors from kittens.
James Landreth wrote:I knew a couple once who trained their dogs to hunt rats and then hired that out as a service. I'm not sure what became of them. I did see it in action once and it seemed fairly effective. I'm sure you wouldn't get all of them though.
I've had voles in my hugel mounds and that leads to them eating the roots of things, and then coyotes digging up the hugel mounds to get the voles. Keeping the grass mowed down around them helps because birds of prey are better able to control them. If you could find a way to increase your weasel population that might help too.
Jamin Grey wrote:If cats aren't an option, what about two or three Rat Terriers? More than one, because dogs coordinate when hunting together.
(I've never used Terriers myself - I'm a Pyrenees guy, because they're oh so big and fluffy, and staggeringly intelligent, but not very helpful with rats)
Daron Williams wrote:Sometimes it also just takes time. Predators tend to show up after the prey does--I'm not sure how long you waited but it could take a couple years for enough predators to show up to bring the prey into balance. Doing what you can to create habitat for the predators helps too. Large rock piles and log piles can be good. These will house the prey too but the predators will also move in. I have a vole issue so I'm planning to install barn owl boxes each year for the next few years until I have a good 6+ resident barn owls. Might even go for more. I'm also going to add a bunch of large log piles away from my core growing areas but close enough that predators like weasels and even coyotes can take shelter in them.
Also, I have found with hugelkultur beds that the more careful you are about filling in all the cracks and spaces between the logs the less issues you will have with voles, rats and other similar sized critters. I stopped using smaller branches in my hugelkultur beds because it was impossible to fill in all the gaps--instead I just cut those up and use them for mulch on top of the beds. My hugelkultur beds settle a lot less and there aren't any ideal spaces for tunneling animals. I get a few of these critters still but a lot less. I'm also adding log piles and rock piles around and on my hugelkultur beds to make more habitat for snakes. I'm still hoping one day a weasel shows up but so far I haven't seen one on my property.
As I have been doing this the last few years my vole population has steadily declined and rats are a lot rarer then they used to be. But I still need to get the barn owl boxes up and add more habitat features. To me it comes down to having enough habitat for the predators and then playing the long game knowing that the prey will show up first. This is why habitat features and features like the barn owl boxes are so important. They give the predators a reason to stick around.
Scott Foster wrote:I had mouse problems in a hugel key mound for about 2 years and then the snakes showed up. I had no snakes or reptiles, now I have everything. I have a hugel key mound right outside that the deer are bedding down in. I almost ran into a deer in my driveway one night. I still have mice/rats but I think they are in a rhythm with the critters that eat them. Last winter the mice moved into the house but this year I didn't have one mouse in the house.
I've noticed that everything takes longer doing it the natural way. Many of the permaculture functions stack on one another, the more you do and the longer it grows, the more biodiverse the more you start to see balance. I have some heirloom roses that I started last year. I was just thinking about how tempted I am to use fertilizer, but I won't do it. It's not worth it. I will keep amending the soil and eventually I'll have healthy rose bushes that explode.
Trace Oswald wrote: Sometimes the simplest answer is the right answer. I think tearing it out was the answer. I prefer to make my systems less complex for me to handle, rather than more. You could get cats or dogs (I have both) but in my opinion, it isn't worth it to have animals if it is just to keep your hugel rat free. All animals need time, care, money. There are certainly other answers to the problem, but nature doesn't always think the solution is what we think it should be. Nature may be perfectly happy with a giant rat colony living there. I think you did the right thing.
William Bronson wrote:I'm so sorry to hear about the rats attacking your birds, that sounds horrible!
I found voles in my above ground hugel as well.
I'm not sure if the structure has voids or if it's simply a good environment for burrowing.
I still use buried wood, but now I bury my wood below grade,use a variety of wood at each layer, and pack soil in at each layer.
This doesn't seem to attract rodents in the same way.
I am not sure how you feel about traps, but I have found a handful of sunflower seeds floating in a bucket half full of water to be an effective trap for rats and mice.