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RATS!

 
Sam Trewick
Posts: 2
Location: Minneapolis, MN & Clayton, WI
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Hi there! This is my first post so please forgive/advise me if it's awkward!

We have a 15-acre hobby farm in western Wisconsin where we have 4 hugelkultur beds, a flock of 13 chickens, 3 ducks, 3 Guineas (soon to be 15!), 3 dogs and 1 cat. It's about 3/4 native prairie with 1/4 or less deciduous forest. This is our 4th summer on the farm.

Late this winter we got INVADED for the first time by rats. They wreaked havoc with our chicken coop where they helped themselves to their feed. So we built a new, elevated coop to solve that problem and hoped they would rove away since their food was now limited. However, now they're hitting up the duck and guinea feed, as well as raiding the compost. And digging holes/living in my largest hugelbed, which has damaged the crops.

We've tried electric traps, traditional and glue traps, cats & terriers, bait/water traps and other tactics but nothing is working. We recently added 2 barn cats who we can't release for another 2 weeks (to give them time to acclimate/imprint) and I plan to get a contained composter for food compost. We also liberally sprinkle cayenne pepper wherever we see their holes -- and a variety of other random tricks, but have not yet gone to POISON.

But we're really worried -- we feel like we're throwing everything-but-the-kitchen sink at them and it's not getting better.

Really looking for some strong advice -- has anyone out there successfully dealt with a rat infestation like this? What works?

THANK YOU!!!
 
thomas rubino
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Location: latitude 47 N.W. montana
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Hey Sam; My grandfather showed me a trick years ago. Has worked well for me. Use the large snap rat trap and screw it to a wall above where they are running. I find peanut butter works good as a bait. The idea is they have to stand up and stretch their neck out to reach the bait hopfully snapping their neck as the trap goes off ... the other good thing is they can not drag the trap off if it doesn't kill them. I have screwed traps to a piece of 2x4 when there is no good place to make them stretch, this works as well but they seem to drag the trap a little way before expiring.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Encouraging raptors might help, but you need to be aware that raptors also like a small chicken dinner, and keep small chickens under cover.

http://tommy51.tripod.com/perch.html

https://efotg.sc.egov.usda.gov/references/public/WY/RaptorPerches.pdf


Snakes help keep rodents down but also like eggs and chicks for dinner...
 
Lorinne Anderson
Posts: 22
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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RATS! UGH! Difficult little buggers!

REMOVE ACCESS TO FOOD:
Start with securing all bird/fowl feed - a dead freezer is the perfect, free, recycled rodent proof container. Do not "free feed" by scattering on ground, use suspended feeders and remove at night (put in dead freezer). Ensure there is no access to water (bowls, troughs etc), especially at night when they are most active, they cannot survive on food alone.

EXCLUSION:
Concrete floors in all bird coops is best, but buried "hardware cloth" will work. Build coops out of used metal roofing or re-side them - rats can't climb it. Surround bottom of pen with metal roofing so the first 3-4 feet are unclimbable. Ensure there are no overhanging trees or structures that would allow bold rats to jump over your defenses.
***chicken wire is useless in preventing rodents/predators from gaining access to your birds, its only purpose is to contain birds from scattering.

COMPOST:
This must be contained in a rodent proof enclosure - again, my free favorite is used metal roofing and hardware cloth.

But, sometimes there is no option but to kill them.

TRAPS:
Snap traps catch rats by placing them along the rat runways (watch for poop trails) usually along wall edges, ledges, etc. It is not the bait so much as the location where they literally run over it by accident. The addition of two inch screws thru the bottom of the old fashioned wood traps will help impale rat when snap arm comes down, preventing trap loss and better kill rate.

WATER TRAP: cheap homebuilt trap requiring a coat hanger, an aluminum pop/beer can, and a 5 gallon pail half full of water. Drill a hole in top of bucket, on each side just large enough to feed straightened coat hanger thru. Punch coat hanger thru can lengthwise, press a dimple in center of can and bait with peanut butter. Suspend can on hanger wire above bucket by feeding through holes drilled in top of bucket. Check to see if can spins freely, this is what dumps them in water to drown. Works best where water is scarce.


Good luck.
 
Sam Trewick
Posts: 2
Location: Minneapolis, MN & Clayton, WI
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Thanks you guys! This is all very helpful.

 
Andrea Redenbaugh
Posts: 47
Location: New Holstein, Wisconsin for now
dog food preservation urban
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Not a pleasant solution, but here is what my father in law did. Where ever the rats are getting water, he would leave a dish of instant mashed potato flakes. The rats would eat the flakes then drink water an their insides would burst from the flakes expanding. Gruesome but effective.

Good luck solving this one.
 
Kerry Bernal Coates
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Location: Madrid Spain soon to be Medina Sidonia Cadiz
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We have been told that rats pass on information to their offspring so a trap only works ONCE for each 'family'.
Also they can smell rat urine on rat traps and avoid them. We were told to live trap and drown to avoid the traces of smell.
Even so the trap itself would become ineffective with time as they LEARN.

More and more people are suggests dogs. the bodeguero a breed trained to kill rats in spanish wine cellars or the Polish ratter. Latter looks like those cute pooch dogs people carry around in bags but have seen them and are incredibly domminating for miniature size.
 
Rufus Laggren
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Location: Chicago/San Francisco
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Sam

How many?



Rufus
 
James Everett
Posts: 69
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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dog greening the desert trees
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I know in the house using peppermint oil soaked balls keeps them out of areas, Would growing mint around the areas keep them at bay with enough grown.
 
John C Robinson
Posts: 29
Location: Lynn, MA (Zone 6A)
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James Everett wrote:I know in the house using peppermint oil soaked balls keeps them out of areas, Would growing mint around the areas keep them at bay with enough grown.


I tried cotton balls with peppermint oil. I'm watching a rat running back and forth over it as he eats seems and runs under the shed.

I'm not sure what else to try. A gun seems selective, discriminate, and final. I suppose I could try a pellet gun.
 
Andrew Parker
pollinator
Posts: 514
Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
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A permaculture garden is a rat's paradise. Whether it be deep mulching, compost piles, hugelbeds or stacked firewood, rats love all of the above. If you were in an arid or semi-arid climate, removing sources of water makes a big difference.

Never keep food or water for pets or other animals on or near the ground, and never let it stay out overnight. Even controlling for that, if there are natural sources of food, like acorns or other nuts, fruits and berries, grass or weed seeds, etc., they will forage the same foods as squirrels and other rodents.

If denying access to food doesn't work, then the next logical step is removing shelter habitat. This would, unfortunately, require that you destroy your hugelbeds, make rodent-proof compost piles, remove deep mulch (perhaps replacing with a pebble mulch?), and put all firewood in rodent-proof racks.
 
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