The Saga of the Rat

Rayelene

Chirping
Feb 3, 2015
57
14
56
New Zealand
I have no time for rats. Yes I know some people find them adorable with their cute little whiskers and fluffy fur but I am not won over by them at all. For the past two weeks they have intruded on my idyllic country life by stealing their way into my chook run, so until I have got a more ‘rat-proof’ set up I have to remove the food every night and bring it inside. However because there is now no food out there for them they have made their way to the house.

As I lay in bed last week I heard a scratching sound in the roof and I knew exactly what it was, so on payday I purchased a rat-trap and loaded it with peanut butter (seems to work well for mice) and sunflower seeds. I wobbled my way up my pink stepladder and removed the manhole cover in the garage and carefully placed the trap just inside the roof cavity. I must confess, as I lay in bed that night I felt more than a little guilty but I consoled myself with the thought that at least it would be quick.

But victory was not to be mine for on checking the trap in the morning I found it was still set. I waited another day and checked again. Still nothing. On the third day I forgot and it was very late in the evening before I remembered. I climbed the stepladder, torch in hand and lifting the manhole cover with my head I poked my head into the roof space. I froze … right in front of my face, frozen in the light of the torch was the rat. Its beady little eyes were staring straight at me. An involuntary noise, not unlike a squeal escaped and I dropped my torch. That rats eyes got really big, its whiskers twitched and it squealed back. I got such a fright that I slid right down the ladder, scraping my knees on the way down and then fell backward on the floor on my butt. I could hear mad scampering in the roof as that terrified, but happy little critter absconded into the darkness. Those cute rats in the movie ‘Flushed Away’ are nothing like ‘real life’ rats and I decided in that moment that my dislike of them is totally justified.

I decided too that, apart from the dangers of climbing the ladder, this pesky rodent would be very wary now and was not likely to return to the manhole cover, so I removed the trap and placed it on the floor in the garage hopeful that it would prefer the trap food than the wiring in the roof. As I slept that night I dreamed about that rat. It was sitting at the rat trap with a little knife and fork, delicately dining on sunflower seeds and peanut butter, and in my dream it threw its little head back and laughed and laughed.

I was really disappointed the next morning to find the trap still un-sprung, but right beside it stood a plastic bucket with sealed lid in which I keep the chook food. That sharp toothed fiend had chewed away a corner of the plastic lid, and given more time, would have gotten into the bucket. There was no sign of the little knife and fork though, which confirmed to me that part at least was indeed a dream. I cleaned up the mess and yesterday I put some of the chook food on the trap to tempt that critter, placed the trap right beside the bucket it had chewed, confident that this morning would see that rascal dead in my trap. Wrong again.

I woke this morning to find the trap still loaded, the bucket untouched and all my vegetable garden seeds (about 45 packets of them) chewed up, the remains strewn on the garage floor. Not a packet left intact. I sure hope he enjoyed the feast and appreciated the fact that most of those seeds were expensive organic seeds.

So today I spring cleaned the garage. I moved every item and swept it out. I then removed all food, including the chook food and the blood and bone bag it had attacked. I have placed the trap once more on the garage floor and sprinkled some food on it. Even now as I type this I can hear scurrying sounds in the roof, and if I listen hard enough I’m sure I can also hear the faint sound of laughter. It mocks me.

I might note here that all feelings of guilt are now gone and if that disgusting thing is not in my trap in the morning I’m going to pull out the big guns and buy some rat poison. Meantime .. I'm off to google on how to make my method of feeding my chooks both rat and mice proof :)
 

chooks4life

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
4,902
675
296
Australia
Thanks for the entertaining read, made me laugh.

I too had an ongoing saga with a rat. Not just any rat, but a Queen B**** of a rat. She was an ugly, huge, lumpy thing, nothing like the other resident rats which were about half her size, half her intelligence level and shaped like overgrown mice. Cutesy, really, unlike her.

She appeared to be a different species, hybridized with the local males but their offspring never appeared fertile and didn't live long past puberty, and they looked like an inbetween version of both parents... Never saw another rat like her on the place.

Anyway she wasn't so cute or amusing, she was a terror. Initially only interested in chook feed, she soon took a liking to living flesh, particularly babies, turkeys and chickens alike.

She would go under hens and take babies in the night, bite into their skulls (without killing them somehow) and that would paralyze them, and she'd carry them away and stash them as a living larder. Horrible. One baby chicken she stole alive, unharmed, I recovered that one after tracing its peeping to the burrow she'd put it in. The chickens lived in terror of her.

Other times she just disemboweled the babies, didn't eat, just destroyed.

Maybe not coincidentally we had an incident with a rat that appeared to have lyssavirus/rabies, which looked like one of her hybrid offspring, just walking around in circles and screaming nonstop while taking occasional detours in its circling to a nearby hen, fetching babies out from under her, and disemboweling them; not eating, not killing them either. (Not outright, anyway). I can still picture the little fluffy chicks strewn all over the floor with their guts torn out, still alive.

It had no fear, no hunger, didn't react to us at all. The chicks weren't even a day old, the entire clutch was destroyed in one night, the hen unharmed. That same night a phascogale attacked the same clutch under the same hen and killed some too.... That was a strange and unfortunate night for all involved except the phascogale, which we got a wildlife ranger to remove. There was another hen in the same cage on a clutch, neither she nor her chicks were attacked. Bizarre.

Anyway, back to Queen B... Her reign of terror lasted several years before I managed to get her; I didn't use baits because the chooks (and our cats and dogs) ate rodents and I didn't want to risk losing any. I tried traps and she enjoyed organic peanut butter but could take it without setting off the trap, or could set off the trap without getting caught then eat at her leisure.

What got her in the end was dark chocolate. Not the first time that's been an effective last-ditch weapon against rodent issues.

They find it addictive and will do stupid things to get their fix once they're addicted. Like jump into a barrel of water to get to a floating bottlecap with a bit of chocolate on it, and subsequently drown. Dark chocolate is more effective than milk chocolate. I had taped peanut butter to the trap without success, she was too canny for that to work, would just set it off without getting caught, to get to the peanut butter.

I fed her dark chocolate free choice for a week, just cheap dark cooking chocolate, threw bits around the place where she liked to go, and once she was addicted, I let her go without for a day to really whet her appetite, then taped some to the trap. Of course she couldn't resist and wrestled with it, and because she was desperate for her fix she wasn't careful this time, and the trap caught her. Had to get my dog to finish her off because she was so big the rat trap couldn't kill her, just broke her back.

It was a huge relief, she'd begun ripping out aviary mesh I'd blocked her tunnels with, to get into my bedroom, and I had what I'm pretty sure are legitimate fears that she'd eat my face or fingers or toes in my sleep, because that's what sort of rat she was. The sort Europeans used to write about in old livestock keeping books, that feast on sleeping livestock. I'd always wondered why they were in such fear of rats, before Queen B none of the rats I'd encountered had been that bad. She never moved into the chook coops like the others, always lived out in inaccessible areas. They never attacked the chooks, bar that one diseased rat, but she practically made a hobby out of it.

The other rats didn't bother me, really, easy to manage. But she was a nightmare.

Best wishes and good luck with your saga.
 

Rayelene

Chirping
Feb 3, 2015
57
14
56
New Zealand
Eek ... I can't believe your Queen B's reign of terror went on for so long. She was one smart rat! I'm afraid I had to google phascogale to see what it was .. never heard of those .. man they look too cute! Haha .. I hear ya .. I would have feared for my toes too lol. This morning the trap is set off but no rat in it. Grr .. After that fright I doubt it will come back to the trap now .. thanks for the chocolate tip .. I might try that before resorting to the poison. I have no other pets so using the poison is not an issue but I don't think it the most humane way to kill a rat. Sigh ...
 

Folly's place

Enabler
9 Years
Sep 13, 2011
22,772
36,892
1,096
southern Michigan
A few years ago we had rats here in the barn, and after trying the bucket with water trap, which did kill a few, we had to move on. No rats were caught either in the live traps, or the snap traps. I locked all my critters up, warned the neighbors, and set out broudificon. After about a week, no more was eaten, and no sighns of rodents. It was the only thing that actually was effective. Mary
 

Rayelene

Chirping
Feb 3, 2015
57
14
56
New Zealand
How hard can it be to catch a rat? Really? Yup .. that thing remains at large somewhere in my house. It has avoided the rat trap for more than a week now and chewed everything around it in the garage so I'm pretty sure it invited it mates to the party.

It is starting to sound like that childrens’ book “the very hungry caterpillar”. On Wednesday it ate through two cardboard boxes, but it was still hungry. On Thursday it ate through 4 sealed plastic buckets but it was still hungry. On Friday it at through two large storage containers but it was still hungry. On Saturday it ate through an entire stash of vegetable and flower seeds. Wait, wait , wait .. stop right there! Almost $140 worth of seeds obliterated in one night .. its unforgivable! It continues to haunt me in my dreams .. laughing at my efforts. In my dreams it puts its little feet to its ears and chants “Naah nah na naah na”

Any compassion I had for that sharp toothed fiend is now gone and it is a marked rat with a bounty on its little whiskered head. My instructions are ‘wanted dead or alive’ and ‘shoot to kill’. Seriously it crossed the line at my seeds.

It was a case of 'close but no cigar' this morning .. it set off the trap but managed to escape unscathed it appears. So tonight, I'm afraid, I resorted to rat bait. I’m loathe to do it .. but this thing is eating me out of house and home. It eats more than I do and I simply can't afford to feed it.

But I did have a brainwave about the chook food. I have a spare freezer in the garage which is empty. I will clean it out tomorrow and it will become my new chook food storage bin . .. brilliant if I do say so myself. I doubt even this cunning little rodent can lift the lid on a chest freezer!

My desire to catch this critter is now bordering on 'obsession'
 

chooks4life

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
4,902
675
296
Australia
Good luck! I lost all tolerance after Q.B. lol. I used to use a fridge lying down on its back as food storage, worked well. Right now I'm using a plastic drum, it'd take some dedicated and prolonged effort to get into that. Q.B. would have been capable but most normal rats wouldn't even try.

Cats are pretty handy for this sort of thing, or terriers. ;) Though my dog wasn't a terrier, dogs work in general. One of the biggest problems with rats here is the fact that they attract snakes, but once the pythons arrive, they stop at the chooks. Easier to catch a sleeping chook than a nocturnal rodent.

Best wishes with your crusade against the rats. They're amusing at first but they can be such a headache. Not to mention the many zoonotic diseases and parasites they introduce to the drinking water and feeds.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
9 Years
Sep 13, 2011
22,772
36,892
1,096
southern Michigan
My feed is all in metal garbage cans; rats will chew through plastic. My barn cats all decided that rats were my problem, not theirs. That's why the poison had to happen. A nice little terrier would work, but also take out chickens unless very carefully trained. Mary
 

peastix

Songster
5 Years
Mar 15, 2015
316
102
166
Auckland New Zealand
How hard can it be to catch a rat? Really? Yup .. that thing remains at large somewhere in my house. It has avoided the rat trap for more than a week now and chewed everything around it in the garage so I'm pretty sure it invited it mates to the party.

It is starting to sound like that childrens’ book “the very hungry caterpillar”. On Wednesday it ate through two cardboard boxes, but it was still hungry. On Thursday it ate through 4 sealed plastic buckets but it was still hungry. On Friday it at through two large storage containers but it was still hungry. On Saturday it ate through an entire stash of vegetable and flower seeds. Wait, wait , wait .. stop right there! Almost $140 worth of seeds obliterated in one night .. its unforgivable! It continues to haunt me in my dreams .. laughing at my efforts. In my dreams it puts its little feet to its ears and chants “Naah nah na naah na”

Any compassion I had for that sharp toothed fiend is now gone and it is a marked rat with a bounty on its little whiskered head. My instructions are ‘wanted dead or alive’ and ‘shoot to kill’. Seriously it crossed the line at my seeds.

It was a case of 'close but no cigar' this morning .. it set off the trap but managed to escape unscathed it appears. So tonight, I'm afraid, I resorted to rat bait. I’m loathe to do it .. but this thing is eating me out of house and home. It eats more than I do and I simply can't afford to feed it.

But I did have a brainwave about the chook food. I have a spare freezer in the garage which is empty. I will clean it out tomorrow and it will become my new chook food storage bin . .. brilliant if I do say so myself. I doubt even this cunning little rodent can lift the lid on a chest freezer!

My desire to catch this critter is now bordering on 'obsession'
I'm laughing at the hungry caterpillar story but seriously $140.00 of seeds is no joke! I've found the blue tablets in a pack of 4 at Bunnings [and most Hardware stores have them too] the most effective.You can pierce them through the middle and hang them somewhere or even tie them inside a piece of plastic pipe.Bunnings for our northern hemisphere readers is a large Aus NZ hardware chain.I also saw there an interesting rat trap shaped like a cone with a rubber band attached rat sticks head inside PING! rat dies alongside trap.I put out poison at this time of year as the weather gets colder and rats are looking for a nice winter home.I've come to the conclusion it has to be.They are cunning and often don't get caught in traps.I put it in my garden/wood shed which is fenced from the chickens.Only seen the odd poo or 2 but neighbour has large compost garden clippings heap where I think they nest.Hopefully they go back there to die as I've put out poison the last 3 winters and only once seen a live rat scuttling off next door and no bodies.The bait is always eaten.Keep putting it out until it is no longer eaten.The freezer is an excellent idea.I keep mine in a metal rubbish bin inside the coop where the feeder is also.They can also foul chickens water too little pests.Good luck! Penny.
 

Rayelene

Chirping
Feb 3, 2015
57
14
56
New Zealand
I've found the blue tablets in a pack of 4 at Bunnings [and most Hardware stores have them too] the most effective.You can pierce them through the middle and hang them somewhere or even tie them inside a piece of plastic pipe.Bunnings for our northern hemisphere readers is a large Aus NZ hardware chain.
Yep I got it from Mitre 10 and put it out last night .. no bites yet .. ate through another plastic container though .. grrr
 

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