New arrivals

by Adam Pasco

We've had some new arrivals in our neighbourhood recently. The Rat Family arrived next door, taking up residence in their new development...

We've had some new arrivals in our neighbourhood recently.The Rat Family arrived next door, taking up residence in their new development, under the decking, before moving on to the high-rise raised beds when they found their entrance inconveniently blocked.

For the first 18 years living here there was never a rat in sight, but within a few months of setting the chickens up in their new home, the rats arrived. As chickens become popular in residential areas I wonder if anyone else is having the same problem?

Rat trapAfter a particularly rotund rodent scarpered past my wife while she was relaxing in a lounger, I searched every inch of my garden for signs of rodents. When I was confident the rats weren't resident within my boundary, I chatted to my neightbour and we decided on setting up humane traps to deal with the problem. We have a small dog and they have several cats, so we didn't want to risk leaving rat poison around. We both invested in these metal contraptions with precariously balanced doors that slide shut like a portcullis to trap any rat that dares enter to dine on tasty morsels within.

My trap was set up along the dividing fence. Checked with trepidation every morning, the sensitive trapdoor had regularly dropped, but nothing lurked within. Then one morning, a shadow, a brown shape...a hedgehog. Whoops!

Released to continue feeding on my slugs (yes, even the editor of Gardeners' World Magazine has slugs in his garden - but not many!), the humane trap was reset, and the waiting continued.

In the end we called the Council, who baited boxes, carefully positioned around my neighbours garden. And finally a dead rat was discovered - problem sorted. Happy chickens. Happy neighbours...and a very happy Pasco family.

PS Where did the statistic come from that we're never more than a few feet from a rat? Please tell me this isn't true!

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Gardeners' World Web User 17/04/2007 at 20:48

Am I mistaken in thinking that rats only come into compost bins if food is put in. Vegetable peelings are not classed as food as far as I am aware. I get the tiny flies in my bin and plenty of wood lice but I still get decent compost from it.

Gardeners' World Web User 18/07/2007 at 11:32

What a shocking statistic. Thankfully my neighbours' new arrivals were quickly despatched! The baited traps set by the council appear to have done their job....for now. With rats so well established in many areas, like London, I'm sure this is a constant battle for many. I wonder if other users have a rat problem in their area?

Gardeners' World Web User 20/07/2007 at 19:29

We're getting increasing reports of rats in our part of Reading, where none used to be seen. (Although judging by Mr Smith's statistic, they were probably there - just staying out of sight!)A widely-held local view is that as the rats' appearance has coincided with the council switching to fortnightly rubbish collections - could there just possibly be a connection between the two? An opinion which, needless to say, is not shared by the council...!

Gardeners' World Web User 21/07/2007 at 12:18

We're in a small rural town in Cumbria, with farms not so far away in any direction. We have had rats, but so far fewer instances than in Carlisle, where there is a terrific array of fast-food outlets, and a willing (and often drunk) clientelle in the early hours. Rats certainly seem to be more of a problem in cities don't they?

Gardeners' World Web User 22/07/2007 at 04:12

Adam, each issue of Gardeners' World comes to me a month later as I am in Chicago, IL, USA. However, each time I have a question or problem a solution invariably turns up in "my" latest issue. Rats are my current souce of anxiety.

I have lived in Chicago for 40 years and this is the first time I have had or seen them in my neighbourhood. The Streets and Sanitation Dept. had been baiting the alleyway when I noticed a hole in my garden. Later that evening I saw them scurrying and the peeking out of the hole. Needless to say I yelped in a most undignified manner. S&S came out and baited the hole. We covered it and laid wire cloth with heavy stones on top of that. 4 hours later my son tells me he sees a rat. Sure enough the rat used a tiny space I missed. I went to the basement, mixed cement and gave them a proper set of "cement shoes Chicago style".

With construction of new homes near the railway, I think they have been displaced. We are glad to say our dead count is at 6, though 1 under my beans, and another where I couldn't get to it (also cemented in to prevent more attempts to lodge under the garage) are enough for me.

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