Chickens and Rats or Just Rats!

| 8/4/2009 5:14:42 PM

Tags: rats, chickens,

Chicken ManI have had rat problems off and on for the past 15 years that I’ve lived here. This year, the rat population seems to have exploded! It is purely anecdotal, but this is also the first year I’ve had chickens! These are not roof rats, but rather fruit rats ... much smaller, which in all candor, make them more difficult to catch. They are really too big to be caught in a smaller mouse trap and too small for the rat trap. Plus they seem to be Mensa Rats, because they are smarter than years past. Which makes them smarter than me. So, we are now in for a battle and a HUGE conundrum. So, let’s hit the launchpad.

Adorable ratI am by nature/up-bringing conservative, but I have have a strong bent towards proper stewardship of the our planet and balance between man and beast. Rats, for me, are the tipping point of environmental consciousness and militant insanity. And, now with the wonderful movie, glorifying the incredible humor, love and culinary abilities of rats in Ratatouille, killing them has become a little tougher. I see Remy in all of them.

I go to my local hardware store looking for rodent control . My mind races between the simplicity of a snap trap and devising new, yet invented, robot rodent killing machines. I have even jumped on Raytheon’s website in hopes they have a some military grade laser rat destroyer, maybe something they’ve used in Iraq ... hmmmm? Or maybe a mutant cat, that I can stuff into my crawl space and seal it up. Listen for the tussel and then coax the cat back down with some catnip. Anyway, my mind races between joy and guilt ... as I stand there I juggle “green/humane” option or utter mayhem. If you’ve seen Ratatouille you saw what the grandma (assuming she is a grandma) did to the ceiling of her house with the shotgun – yep that’s me.

With a nod to “green” I begin with sticky/glue traps. I put my finger on it to test and it is like a tractor beam. I can barely get my finger out of it. I nearly grab the trap with my other hand only to catch a glimpse of myself in the future, with both hands stuck together as I struggle to release myself from it, only to fail and die of starvation. Irony? I proceed to nail them to the tops of fences where I know these germ infested creatures are making their midnight dashes. I put out a scooch of peanut butter to draw them in, and with anticipation I go to sleep. I awaken with an extra jump in my step to see the peanut butter gone and no rat, nothing, not even a mark in the glue trap. Are you kidding me? I barely get away with my life, and these rats dance across it like it was a parquet floor.

Fine, let’s try this again. Repeat the same steps with more peanut butter, and push it into the glue a little deeper. Awaken the next morning and shame on me … peanut butter is gone and not a tarred rat in site. Honestly, how can they sell this stuff? If rats dance across it, how can Rat Glue Inc. or whoever it is … still be in business? You know, I think when stuff doesn’t work, most of us move on. You know, just “Oh well, it was only $4.99, it didn’t work,” and move on to Plan B. I think this is wrong … however, I didn’t complain.

I now elevate my quest to – snap traps and these stooooopid “plug-in” electronic emitters, which are suppose to attract them and then make them nuts and drive them away. I get two rat traps, which take super-human strength and dexterity to set and of course nerves of steel to take your hand away while the spring of death is “loaded.” Hoping beyond hope that that hook is making full contact with the clip. I put peanut butter on the trap – organic of course ... want to make sure their last meal is healthy, and plug in the emitters. Keep in mind the rats are in our crawlspace and are keeping my kids up and freaking them out (me too). They truly sound like they are acting out a scene from Bonanza with stagecoaches and horses galloping through the attic. Guns are firing and horses are snarling. I hear one yell, “Pa! Get Hoss!”

Ellen Hollenback
9/25/2009 9:53:11 AM

I'm against poison. We had a rat problem once and a dog that liked to chase and eat rats. We put out poison out for the rats - out of reach of any of our pets. Then one of our dogs died within four hours of finding her sick. It was a painful terrible death. In her yard, we found a half eaten rat. The only conclusion that what could have happened to our beatiful healthy young dog was that she ate a poisoned rat. Keep your food in metal, rodent proof bins. Keep the chicken coops off the ground. Minimize the rat's ability to make a hole in the coop.

Jacqueline Ryckman
9/12/2009 1:40:11 PM

I hate poisons, not only for the fact that the death is not always a clean or quick one, but also if the mouse or rat gets caught by a cat or dog prior to the mouse / rat actaully dying then it can cause injury to that animal as well. This may sound cruel but when I was a kid my brother would shoot the rats (the actual rats that were too big for the barn cats to take on) with his pellet gun. That seemed the most affective way of handling the giant rat problem.

Jane R
9/11/2009 10:15:05 AM

We have had chickens for 24 years now and from time to time we have had a rat problem..sometimes because of building in the area ..they discover FOOD galore and try to move in. I do not like glue traps or the snap ones..I think traps are cruel because they don't always kill and there is the chance you can get another less-pesty kind of animal in chipmunks. I also hate poison..BUT it is what I use when they get too plentiful. (yeah I know that cna get other animals too) I dump it right down the holes, and hope other animals are staying out of them (which I think they do). Keep the chickens in if they are around the chicken house of course for a few days... Right now they have eaten a hole in the chicken house floor right under the water bucket.. and have excavated the dirt from under the chicken house into the house itself! So I need to dig out the dirt they have deposited and nail something over the hole and before I try the poison on the outside...... We do not have outside cats. We used to and it cost too much to repair injuries and other cat problems that you get when your cats run outside (like disease)... so our cats are confined inside and so far so good as far as inside the house goes. The main problem I have here is the close proximity of other neighbors and if they see a rat they I have to stay on top of it. I hate to kill them but they can be oh so destructive not to mention disease they can carry...I have had Lyme disease more than once now and it is no picnic...they also carry ticks...... I keep feed in a separate area, away form the chicken house or horse stall, in closed containers...

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