We've always adopted a policy of 'live and let live' and during our first summer here in the UK with chickens we have been aware that we were frequently 'visited' by rats that would pick off the uneaten crumb, pellet and seed that our flock of chickens left in the runs. We could live with that. And all has been well all summer...we left the runs open and the rats left the coops and sheltered areas alone and were happy just to hoover up the titbits left behind by our chickens.... During the nights our girls have secure cages within a log cabin with wood shavings and meadow hay for bedding so they are well protected from predators and, I guess, live a life of luxury. The temperature over the last week or two has plummeted and we have seen a sudden change in the behaviour of our 'visitors' ... a hole was gnawed in one of the connecting tubes between the outdoor areas and the sheltered areas have been entered....some eggs have been taken and corn and crumb feeders raided. To top it all my wife's favourite bantam chicken was attacked this afternoon. We think she took refuge by perching on top of a water feeder whilst a number of young rats jumped up and took lunges at her neck....there was blood all over the feeder and the poor girl had lost a clump of feathers from around her neck but thanks to my wife responding to the commotion she heard in the garden and intervening our precious Mrs.Chicken (as we call her) looks like she will be fine. Her wounds were superficial and after bathing them with cotton balls soaked in antiseptic and a lot of TLC, cuddles and a meal of live mealworms she perked right up, so we reunited her with her lifelong partner...the slightest bantam you ever saw, we call Ms.chicken...who took over and looked after her.....she'll be fine, now. So, now I'm PISSED....Live and let live? phuck that! I've been to our local outlet and armed myself both with traps and poison bait. I baited the 2 runs with the poison blocks and a third in the gully between the tool shed and the perimeter fence earlier this evening....within a couple of hours all 3 lots of bait had been taken and the trap in the gully had taken out a juvenile rat. I've re-baited the same areas. i expect the poison will be taken again. It's a warfarin based product which makes the target's blood thin to the point were they start to bleed internally...resulting in an agonising death. Good enough for em' - they started this!