Thursday, December 1, 2011

rats

I have rats. Mostly in the barn. I watched one crawl up the rafters this morning, behind the pig pen, followed by another. I am fighting back with snap traps, but I need something stronger and more effective that doesn't involve poison. I ordered an electrocution trap at the hardware store, and it has been waiting for me since October, but then I found out it cost 50 bucks, so it is still waiting for me there. I did recently invest in metal bins for all the grain, and have the dogs food in metal too here in the house, but either the cold or just the constant availability of feed, brought on some rats. So let's get 'em!

Note: I can not risk the dogs, pigs, or chickens eating a poisoned dead rat (which they all happily would) and getting sick or dying themselves. Some of you have got to have some ideas, old timer tricks, or know of a really large and mean cat with three heads I can stake out in the loft?

61 Comments:

Blogger Jackie said...

We use rat poison, well hidden in rat runs - and my understanding of modern rat poison is that your animals are not going to die by eating the corpses, not that they likely would - cats and collies being quite picky - because all it does is thin the blood of the rat past a sustainable level - so the dog would have to eat his own weight in rat corpses and would likely still be fine. Don't know if that's right, but it's what I've been told, and all our other animals, are just fine.

December 1, 2011 at 6:09 AM  
Blogger Kathleen Stoltzfus said...

Ah, rats in the barn - brings back good memories! One year my sister's barn was infested with rats (if you see just one, then you have MANY) and so we went in one night armed with shovels, pitchforks and anything else we could find. Let me just say that there was much screaming, whacking, and jumping in the air, but not much killing going on. Too bad we didn't videotape it, we could have made some good money from "funniest home videos". After that fiasco, they invested in the electronic/electrocution boxes and soon things improved.

December 1, 2011 at 6:17 AM  
OpenID Tami said...

Maybe time to think about another barn cat or two. Talk to Jon, he can tell you about barn cats!

December 1, 2011 at 6:18 AM  
Blogger Sewing Machine Girl said...

I have a jack russel terrier for this purpose. Right now she is a puppy but has all the cat-like tendancies that make them super ratters. I had one 10 years ago that killed rats like a champ. And I know you are a dog-person. They dig them out, corner them and just plain hunt them down. It is their working dog destiny. They are fearless, so you have to watch out for when they try to tangle with possum or raccoons. Also watch them around your chickens and rabbits, some JRT see those as fair game.

December 1, 2011 at 6:27 AM  
Blogger Jackie said...

Yes, I would say a JRT is the other solution - and the one where the rat poison might not be so clever, since a Russell might easily catch (although in fairness probably not eat lol) his own weight in rats in half an hour or less!

December 1, 2011 at 6:31 AM  
Blogger Kate Mary Betty said...

You can get a couple of Queens for the barn, they certainly are a good deterrent, once you have rid yourself of the current infestation, but you will certainly spend more than $50 feeding them and taking them to the vet...the electronic trap is well worth the investment...Kathleen is right...if you see one, then you have a whole colony! They are not solitary animals...

KJ - Windwomen Farm

December 1, 2011 at 6:31 AM  
Blogger mdfishinggirl said...

Not that I am an expert...but we had rats in our barn too. We ended up spending the money for the electric trap and boy does it work! Not messy, no worries about posion (wouldn't use it anyway) and it works very quickly. You need to move the trap around after you catch one, they are strangly smart! A farmer we know keeps the large one in his hog barn and is rat free now (as far as he knows!). We use a small one in the chicken coop and it took care of our mice problem. Good luck!

December 1, 2011 at 6:58 AM  
Blogger Sylvia said...

We tried everything -- snap traps, the sticky traps, the squirrel cages. We would catch one or two but then the rest would never come near the contraption again.
We ended up the poison route as well. This was really a turning point for me in enviromentalism because I knew that some poisoned rat would limp outside and one of those stinking hawks that LOVE my chickens would eat it.
But you can't have rats in the house eating your food and leaving rat poop on your kitchen counter. My boys were toddlers then and I couldn't swab the counters, the pantries and the cabinets every day with bleach and still live my life.
We poisoned and have had no more rats.
BTW, my next door neighbors continue to use those contraptions, continue to have infestations, but refuse to use poison on 'philosophical' reasons. This is meant to be a pun but really, you do have to pick your poison. Rats or possible dead rat with poisons. There is a reason rats have lived with humans for millions of years. They are really, really smart.

December 1, 2011 at 7:01 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

We have barn cats and dogs who sleep in the barn and still we have rats. We use an electronic rat zapper which helps, but the best thing we've done is get an automatic chook feeder. It's expensive (so much so it had to be a Christmas present!), but is worth it. It has paid for itself in saved gran. The chickens can't fling the feed everywhere when they use it and the rats can't help themselves.

December 1, 2011 at 7:05 AM  
Blogger Peacemom said...

HI Jenna, We've got rats at our new place because it's been vacant for so long. We are going to get a barn cat, but we found some traps that work AWESOME and are about $5.00 each. Do you have a tractor supply near you anywhere, that's where we got them. They are called "Tomcat". They are not your average spring trap, you bait a little cup, set it with your foot (no breaking of fingers when it snaps back on you!) and it gets them but good. We've caught several and they've not been out that long. Advice, though...attach them to a big board that the rat can't haul away just in case it doesn't snap the whole rat. We did that and haven't lost a trap yet. ~Vonnie

December 1, 2011 at 7:28 AM  
Blogger Brenda said...

The main ingredient in most rat poison in warfarin which a blood thinner (people with blood clotting problems use a purified human version of warfarin called Coumadin).
Warfarin works by causing the rat to hemorrhage and die of shock. This is why you typically find the dead rats by a water source as they are trying to increase their falling blood pressure with water volume. Warfarin could injure your other animals and rats are vectors or carriers of other diseases through their feces and fleas which can be problematic. Keeping your grain secure and using an electric trap are probably your best bets.

December 1, 2011 at 7:36 AM  
Blogger Joe and Jeannie Family said...

A few fat barn cats?

December 1, 2011 at 7:43 AM  
Blogger Sharon said...

OK. I don't know if this would work for rats, but I've heard of people doing it with mice. Fill a bucket half full of water. Run a string across the top of the bucket. Smear a little bit of peanut butter in the middle of the string. The mice try to get to the peanut butter and then fall in then bucket and drown. It's cruel, but I'm told it's effective.

December 1, 2011 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger Ohiofarmgirl said...

we tried everything and there were just too many rats for our barncats to keep up with. so we ended up with poison also. and we were exceptionally nervous about the dogs, cats, chickens etc. so here's what we did - we lock everyone up at night so before even a barncat was let loose we'd go out and look for the dead and dying rats. this really worked. there seems to be a pattern, for us it was several days after we set out the poison we'd start finding them. then after about a week there was no more left to find. we patrolled every morning early until we didnt find anymore. of course we put the poison where no one but the rats could get to it.

our best rat killin' hero, tho, was a small hen who beat the living crap out of a rat who got into her coop with her chicks. she was pretty darn proud of herself.

December 1, 2011 at 7:57 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

We won't use poison either for the same reasons (although we're more concerned about the chickens than the dogs - our sheperd chews on dead mice but doesn't actually eat them. We don't have rats (here) but we did at our old house and we have loads of mice here inside and out that are equally destructive. We're actually big fans of snap traps - they're very effective if you get the better ones and use them correctly (yes, there is a "right way" to set them). As for out in the barn, we keep all feed in well sealed containers (locking rings are your friend, but metal cans with tight lids work fine too). Apart from that, we don't worry about the outside ones too much. We mainly concern ourselves with the ones that try to move into the house. A dog or cat will end up costing you more in feed and care and is (to me) a solution that creates its own set of problems. Our favorite solution is traps, but most people don't seem to realize that they must be (a) used correctly and (b) kept up with almost constantly. Also, you'll want to set as many as you can (but traps are pretty cheap). For mice, we like the snap traps with the big, flat pad that you smear the bait into - they MUST step on it to take the bait, so no thievery. I'm sure there's a rat-sized equivalent of those.

December 1, 2011 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

You are right to avoid the poison. It's active ingredient is Warfarin aka Coumadin for humans. It causes the victim to seek water to replace the blood volume being lost as it seeps out of the vessels. I wouldn't want to take a chance that my dogs would get one of the poisoned animals nor would I want to take a chance on a bird of prey, fox or coyote would get it. Whether it would kill the animals or not doesn't matter. It won't be good for them.
Since you ordered the trap, you really need to pick it up. Retailers don't like to hold special orders for long periods.
I wouldn't get the JRT. Yes they are deadly for rats but hard to live with if they don't have work all the time. Instead, I would recommend a Maine Coon cat. Mine has decimated the red and gray squirrel population around here not to mention the little rodents.
I found a mouse nest under my turkey feeder the other day. My size 11 eliminated one of them.

December 1, 2011 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

After caring for a barn kitten (owned by someone else) who ate a poisoned mouse (or just the poison, who knows), I'll never use poison at my place. The kitten was bleeding out of it's ears and mouth. It was touch and go for a few days, but it pulled through. I'd invest in a pellet gun (good target practice!) or spend the $50 for the electric trap. Sounds like a good investment.

December 1, 2011 at 8:37 AM  
Blogger Kara said...

I would get some barn cats. I'm sure there is a rescue in your area who is looking for homes for feral cats. They make great mousers.

I live in a part of the city (Sacramento) infested with rats, I keep chickens and angora rabbits and I rarely see a rat or mouse in our yard. Our neighbors all have problems with mice/rats, I'm sure my cats keep our area free and clear. Female cats tend to be better mousers, but I've seen some great male hunters as well.

Good luck! I consider myself more of a dog person and I have 3, but I've come to really appreciate my herd of working cats! :) Rats have been known to kill rabbits, so it's very important for us to have our guard cats on duty, to keep our bunnies safe.

December 1, 2011 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger Deltaville Jamie said...

We had a massive rat problem in our barn last year. We tried everything and the only thing that was successful was poison. No issues with the dogs, cat or horses and the poison. Rats are highly intelligent and hard to trick. Good luck!

December 1, 2011 at 8:46 AM  
Blogger Building A Better Life said...

Jenna, terriers are bred to kill rodents, so if you know anybody who can loan one out to you, it might work. Not a puppy though, you'll need an adult.

Or maybe a couple of attack turkeys? :D

December 1, 2011 at 9:10 AM  
OpenID destinationisjourney said...

Cats all the way, but then, I'm a total cat lady.

December 1, 2011 at 9:18 AM  
OpenID outdoors1968 said...

I'd vote air rifle, though that's very time consuming. Several videos on you tube of people "ratting" with night vision scopes on air rifles - those little rats are everywhere at night when the chickens are sleeping. Videos show rats everywhere in hen houses in the dark, while the chickens are roosting, fast asleep. One european woman/homesteader with the handle "snypercat" has quite a few films of her air rifles / scopes /hunts etc. I doubt you'd have the time to shoot em' all though. There are also videos of electronic traps etc. in action on youtube.

I'd volunteer in a heartbeat to hunt em with an air rifle if i had someone with a rat problem in my area.

Many folks who enjoy hunting would likely enjoy shooting some for you in the "off season" when deer etc season is over. As someone else posted, great practice. ;-)

December 1, 2011 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Coley said...

We just found out over the summer that the house 2 doors down was infested with rats. They poisoned and the rats headed for my yard. Ugh. So gross when u see your Puggle chewing on a rat body. We set traps. Also had to make sure that our crawl space door was secure. They look like they were trying to dig underneath. You can tell when they are moving around the yard, the dogs sniff like crazy.

December 1, 2011 at 9:30 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I don't have a problem with rats but mice are certainly attracted to the grain that inadvertently gets spilled here and there. My chickens are very good mousers as are my two barn cats. Whenever I see a mouse, it is not around for long. I do have a friend who has a rat terrier specifically for that purpose and he does live up to his breed. Maybe the dogs would tolerate a little friend who could take care of this job?

December 1, 2011 at 9:34 AM  
Blogger La profesora said...

Here is a very informative fact sheet from Ontario.

http://www.thepoultrysite.com/articles/824/rodent-control-in-livestock-and-poultry-facilities

December 1, 2011 at 9:34 AM  
Blogger steak and eggs said...

We won't use poison in the chicken coops. I'm afraid if the chicken eat a dead rat the poison can kill the chickens or get in the eggs.

We just had a rat in the coops and, it was eating our eggs. I got a mouse trap--to small. So I got a rat trap (snap type). No more rat.

My mother would burn the traps after each time they were used. No not burn up. Just use a lighter or a open flame. Run the flame over the trap for a few seconds to kill the mice smell. She said the mice could smell the dead mice, and wouldn't go for the bait. Anyway it worked for us.

December 1, 2011 at 9:41 AM  
OpenID barntalkblog said...

I've got mice, but I also have three kittens that are keeping them under control! My great-grandfather used to have massive rat traps that could snap off a person's hand. Maybe a big ole 'possum or skunk would teach a big rat a lesson, other than that, I have no advice!

-Autumn

December 1, 2011 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

The electrocution traps are expensive, but SO worth it in both the long and short run. We've had ours for 4 years now, and other than replacing batteries, haven't needed to do anything else (with rechargeable batteries, it would be even cheaper, though the regular batteries last quite a long time in them, about a year). Over time, they become cheaper than any other method. They are quick, there are no half-kills and no poison floating around. And if your trap nets one dead rat a night, in a month, maybe two, your problem will be GONE. After that, you just put it out a couple of nights a month in case any new ones show up. If there's no dead rat in the trap within a couple of days, you can put it away for another month or two.

December 1, 2011 at 9:57 AM  
Blogger Melanie J. said...

Where's June Carter? Girlfriend needs a pep talk by Gibson, he can explain best her role in the grand scheme there.

December 1, 2011 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger *jean* said...

my sister used to have a horse farm and when they had rats in the grain, they used a galvanized garbage can filled about 1/3 filled with water and then floated grain on top of the water so that it looks like there is a lot of grain in the can...used a 2x4 leading up to the rim of the can and check in the morning...the rats will want the grain and go in and then they will drown...then you just bury the remains in the ground...totally non-toxic

December 1, 2011 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

June Carter, and every other cat I tried to home here, does not stay. The house across the street takes in and feeds a half-dozen cats and everytime I try to get a barn cat they leave for across the street for the free food and cat sex...

cats are out

December 1, 2011 at 10:19 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 1, 2011 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

I just posted about me sending you some of my cats, then read your last post. So I deleted that comment. I sure hope you get rid of them. Well, I don't suppose you ever get rid of them entirely. You'll always have them. But I'm surprised your chickens don't go after them. Mine will kill anything small that moves.

December 1, 2011 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

I still suggest that your answer is the right cat.

We have goats, poultry, a pig and a dog. We have two cats who keep the place clean as a whistle.

It will take some time, but if you start with a kitten, raise him/her well with plenty of food and some attention, it will stick around. True, the cat will wander off to visit the neighbors for some cat-lovin', but it will come home when it knows where "home" is.

Though it might be a challenge with Jazz and Annie, when our kittens are young we keep them inside (house or barn) for at least a few weeks, and gradually allow them access to the outdoors. By the time they start to wander, they know they can come home to their own food and hunting grounds.

We had one winter when we lost our much loved older cat, and figured we'd wait until spring to add a new kitten to the house. Bad idea. In spite of all kinds of traps, baits, etc, within a month, we had little feet scampering in the ceiling, mice in the feed, and evidence everywhere. We haven't been without a feline since.

Please don't base your final decision on June Carter - we have had several kittens/cats in the past who had no interest in mousing and would rather sleep on a warm printer all day. We had to find them other good homes. Dogs are family, cats are part of the business: cats here need to earn their keep. It is an investment in time, care, and food - but there are reasons that the good ol' American barncat has its place in history. And in the barn!

Best of luck -

December 1, 2011 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger E said...

My cat ate a rat that had been poisoned with blood thinner as Jackie mentioned. Off to the vet, near death experience for the cat.

December 1, 2011 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger Cindy said...

One word: ratzapper.com. I bought one of their "classic" electonic rat traps and it has lasted for years. No poison, no touching dead bodies, no worries about the other animals, and it just eats batteries every once in a while. They've gone up a bit since I bought mine, but they work a charm. Both mice and rats - no more buying just the right size trap. I sound like a paid endorsement, but I'm not. Just a very satisfied customer. Get to zapping.

December 1, 2011 at 11:41 AM  
OpenID explore said...

I can bring Trevor over...

December 1, 2011 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger Tami said...

Our Cairn Terrier does wonders. With that said, they are runners if your place isn't fenced. Sherlock lets us know the instant something isn't right. He even protects the chickens feed from hungry squirrels. If a squirrel makes an attempt, it ends up being his last.
Terriers were bred for varmit control on farms. Truly, our guy is not happy as a "house" dog. He's not a "lap" dog or car buddy. He is happiest when out guarding "his" property and "his" girls.

December 1, 2011 at 11:48 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

We talked to a local exterminator about relocating black rat snakes to our property. This wouldn't be much help now going into winter and all but its something to keep in mind this spring or summer. Other than that I would look in the paper for free cats.

December 1, 2011 at 12:25 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

also to help keep the cat around, keep it penned up in a kennel or something in the barn for the first few weeks except for at meal time and when your out there to love on it til it gets the idea that that is its home. i did that with the last three cats given to me by friends (indoor cats that were a bit too mean being turned into barn cats) they are all still sticking around out there, the tom disappears for a few days every so often but he always comes home to his barn and his girls.

December 1, 2011 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Pomona said...

We have a couple of terriers, and they keep the rats well away - and if you use live catch traps they will despatch the prisoners for you. We also use poison in lockable bait stations - you need to position them over rat runs, and with light visible at the other end, otherwise the rats are much less likely to go in. Don't use the tubes - the poison spills out and birds and hens will get it.

Our dogs don't eat dead rats, but our neighbour's Labrador did, and nearly died, so it depends on your dog - Labradors are notorious for eating anything. Our terriers and Border Collie will eat dead rabbits, but never rats.

Pomona x

December 1, 2011 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger JB said...

Peanut butter baited buckets were already mentioned so I'll just confirm, they do work. You might need to tweak the design but here is one example similar to what worked for me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOnAP_3M-84&feature=related

December 1, 2011 at 1:46 PM  
Blogger Jimmie said...

I saw where you said the neighbor across the street feeds cats and any that you might have would ultimately start living at the neighbor's house. It seems logical to me that so long as you are feeding your cats sufficiently and neutering or spaying them, they will stay at your place, especially if there is a rat population handy for them. In answer to the other posters who say that cats are too expensive, I say: What's the difference between caring for cats and the other animals that earn their keep on your farm? I don't get it. Now, if you just don't like the idea of cats around, that's another story. Otherwise, I would try cats. They and the couple of black and king snakes that live at our place are welcome tenants.

Diane in North Carolina

December 1, 2011 at 3:25 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

The meanest, fastest cat in the world is no match for rats and you probably have lots of them. If you don't want a Jack Russell or other terrier type around all the time maybe you can find someone who has a good working ratter who will bring it in to visit and will supervise it's hunting with you in exchange for a frozen chicken or a nice meal.
The other alternative is some sport with a .22 and of course the electic trap, but they're pretty smart in avoiding traps- word gets around fast!

December 1, 2011 at 3:39 PM  
Blogger PansWife said...

I also have used the big black "Tomcat" traps and they work. I use a little bacon fat for the bait and make sure it's really smashed into the bait cup. Set it up so the rat has to enter it head first (I use bricks on either side and behind) I agree, poison is not worth the risk.

December 1, 2011 at 4:58 PM  
Blogger gooddogboy said...

A cat?

December 1, 2011 at 5:09 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hi Jenna.
I read your post this morning and it must have been simmering in the back of my mind throughout the day.

I was just in the breezeway that connects our 1800's farmhouse to the barn, standing on the wooden floor boards, looking for some screws in a small box. As I was digging through the box, I heard a scratching/squeaking sound.
I stopped to listen and heard it again.
"OH NO!" I thought, "we've got rats, too!"

Then, I realized it was just my foot on a squeaky floor board!!
Lisa in Maine

December 1, 2011 at 5:36 PM  
Blogger MB said...

5 gallon bucket filled halfway with water - a wire across the top with a soda can threaded on it. Put peanut butter on the soda can - when the rat crosses the wire the soda can will spin and dump him in the water.

December 1, 2011 at 5:49 PM  
Blogger mush said...

Jenna, Using poison is foolish. Your dogs,animals, and children who visit your farm would be at risk. I would consider getting your STORED hay/straw/bedding out of the barn.This is where the rats are sheltering their young. Check animal bedding that is being used daily with a fork. Clean the barn, and check floors for rat holes. Remove anything that a rat could nest in...boxes,containers,boots,etc. Consider constructing a open side hay/bedding shed away from the barn. Use tarps for the sides. Get supplies for this from the dump. A separate chicken coop with a rat wall should also be considered. Stick with one of the rat zappers. Good luck!

December 1, 2011 at 7:24 PM  
Blogger CarolG. said...

Warfarin, also known as coumadin when given to people is an anticoagulant. The reason that it works is that rats tend to sample a new food source and then wait to see if they get sick, if so, they do not return. Warfarin flips pretty quickly over from effective dose to lethal dose. However, since it takes some time to work, the rat could consume far more than a 1-rat lethal dose. The animals do not need to eat that much to get a leathal dose when eating other dead animals. I wouldn't recommend it.

December 1, 2011 at 7:37 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Build a barn owl nesting box on your place - or create a hole high up in on the side of your barn where barn owls can get in. Barn owls LOVE mice and rats and can eat more of them than a cat ever could. When they're nesting - they'll catch 8-10 per night.

December 1, 2011 at 9:54 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

Three barn cats, George, Gracie and Oreo=no rats, minimal mice:-)

December 1, 2011 at 11:14 PM  
OpenID ruralaspirations said...

You need a barn cat or two.

December 1, 2011 at 11:33 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

This might be redundant, don't have time to read all the comments, but there are poisons available that only affect the primary ingester- anything that eats the rat will not be harmed. I'm a zoo keeper and that's what we use for vermin control in our animal enclosures.

December 1, 2011 at 11:55 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Another thing: if you have electricity in the barn, you can buy things called "squeakers". You plug them in and they emit a high frequency noise that keeps rodents away; we've used them for years and they work great. They don't bother dogs; don't know about your other animals though.

December 2, 2011 at 12:00 AM  
Blogger redbird said...

I HATE RATS…mice, voles, ground squirrels I can take, but your post on rats bring back horrible, horrible memories of the last winter I spent in South Dakota—I’ll probably have nightmares about it tonight. Never ever had rats in the barn in previous years until it got record breaking cold that last winter. They started in the barn despite the sealed food bins and I hoped the big old tom cat would get them, but he couldn’t keep up and honestly I don’t think he liked the flavor of rats, and the traps just weren’t cutting it—a neighbor loaned me his rat zappers, but I would have needed +20 to be effective and that was out of the budget. The bucket of water with food sprinkled on top worked, but only for a few. I felt like I was at war. Then they got into the store room off the front porch of the house—I started hearing them running around in the attic…I could barely sleep, and nothing would work. I couldn’t figure what they were eating—I think they were just trying to find a warm place to live. While I tried to figure a way to be rid of them they were multiplying by the bucket load. Breaking point—a boy in my class did a research project on medieval Europe and brought me this extensive power point on the Black Death. The poison came out and I was very torn about this, but they were getting in the house. I didn’t have chickens—that would have been a concern perhaps if I couldn’t have locked them up for a few days, but I locked the cats in a store room in the barn for a bit to be safe. I never saw a dead rat—I’m not sure where they went to die—the common theory is they go back to their nests, and the pigs didn’t get a poisoned one either I’m sure. Within three days though the rats were gone and for the rest of the winter and spring I never heard or saw one. Good luck Jenna—just don’t try the whole coca cola thing. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work—probably just makes them hyped up and fat. Nothing good about rats.

December 2, 2011 at 12:44 AM  
Blogger Katy said...

A few years ago we found evidence of rats in our chicken coop, so my husband went in there to clean it up and block off any holes. As soon as he stuck the pitchfork into the bedding, the whole floor just boiled up with rats! It was unbelievable--like a sinking ship. After about half an hour of stomping and stabbing, he had a 5 gal bucket half full of corpses, probably at least 50 rats.

Since then we've done our best to keep them at a minimum with traps (the ratzapper seems most effective), cats, and keeping things clean, but I don't think they'll ever be gone for good.

December 2, 2011 at 1:42 AM  
Blogger Talita Salles said...

Jenna, it seems the bucket of water with bait in something that doesn't support the rats would be a great alternative. On youtube, these guys also found a relatively cheap alternative: a bowl with some used oil in it. http://youtu.be/_tBO5JikbAs
Only problem with this is that you need a big enough container for rats, and you have to deal with them afterwards.

I do like the owl idea, too. Provide shelter for wildlife and they work for you. ;)

December 3, 2011 at 3:30 PM  
Blogger SWEETHEARTS MOM said...

The best rat cat I had was a tiny black half feral barn cat. She would leap into the air, perform an arch, come down front feet and mouth first and take off running with a dead gian rat in her mouth; Big doesn't always mean best. ps...she never shared and we hardly fed her.

December 3, 2011 at 6:45 PM  
Blogger SWEETHEARTS MOM said...

oh and...on the auto feeder thing, walmart has an auto deer feeder which can be used for this for $88

December 3, 2011 at 6:48 PM  
Blogger USMCmom said...

A very old fashioned idea for rat control is to use plaster of paris. Mix with corn meal or peanut butter. Rats will consume it and when they drink, the plaster of paris will harden and kill the rat. Should not be a problem for your other animals.

December 3, 2011 at 9:26 PM  

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