The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat. ~ Lily Tomlin
We had a growing rat problem, not in the coop … yet. But still, seeing 6 to 8 rats in the backyard, with the growing maze of tunnels, spurred me to do the needful. My lovely wife didn’t want to poison anything.
So we tried laying pavers to keep them from digging into the yard, filling the tunnels with rocks, cleaning up the bird feeders, even installing catch bags under them, etc. All did nothing to stop the growing mob of rats. We even have a feral cat that camps out in our backyard and a red-tailed hawk or two who monitor our lands. Well, we do live next to a wetland meadow.
Finally we asked our expert chicken-raising, farmer neighbors. Pete lent me a poison box (like this one) and some one-bite poison. The first night, no one touched the poison, so I put a little peanut butter on it. The next night the whole stick was gone. Within two weeks of continued poison placements we are down to just one rat, he’s huge. We call him Willard.
When we gave Pete back his box, I made a smaller version. I’m not sure what the interior pieces do, but I just copied his design. Pete is a more talented carpenter than me. He also threaded the poison onto some wires. That was just too fussy for me. This box, btw, is on the outside of my yard, not where the chickens can play with it. Here is the finished product made from wood recovered from the abandoned house that the county finally tore down. The stone on top is to keep the box from moving.
I am paranoid about my chickens or dawgs eating the dead rats. I am constantly searching for the dead rats. So far, I haven’t found any. Rats are scavenger cannibals – even when you trap, the rats eat the bodies caught in the trap. That’s why you only see dead rats if you check traps often, and sometimes then you only see the body part that was enclosed in the trap that they couldn’t eat. So we might never see a dead rat.
I feel relieved that the rat problem has been cut down to a dull roar. We will never be rat free, but we can manage the onslaught. One of the neighbors even thanked me for addressing the growing problem. Well, that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.