So. The house we bought came with guinea hens, 4 of them. The coop hadn't been cleaned in some time and I cleaned half of it today. I didn't wash it, just scooped it, making sure to wear full respirator and all because the bedding is FULL of rat crap. Not a little bit, it's all rat crap, everywhere. I hadn't really looked in there when we moved in under 2 weeks ago, but today I was hit by the reality of the rat situation. There are two walls of the coop that are stuffed full of straw (it's all ramshackled together out of upcycled materials), one wall has a low set hole chewed into it and you can hear rats in the walls. Not all the time, just usually in the morning or evening. There are tunnels under the coop, and there are tunnels under the other ramshackle buildings surrounding the coop. The coop itself is too big, for the winter I was going to block off half of it because it's just too much space.
After seeing the rat crap everywhere today, and hearing them, I'm worried about several things.First off, I'm worried about how many rats may be residing under these different buildings. My cat seems to be killing rats, and there's a fox that seems to hunt them too, but I know it's not enough, even with my husband shooting them. I'm worried about how much the rats could breed over the winter. I'm worried about the diseases they may carry and if the rats will hurt the guineas over winter. I'm also worried that if we remove all these stupid crappy buildings and put up a new guinea only coop that the rats will move into our house or under our deck. What the heck do we do? Help please!
*I want to add that poison is not an option. We have two dogs, two cats, two kids, and a waning predator bird population that can not get into poison or poisoned rats*