Rats (excl.) Slang. (an exclamation of disappointment, disgust, or disbelief.)
Rats, rodents, vermin, plague-mongers, bane of my existence. Those of us who keep livestock(and some who just want to grow veggies) loathe these fur-covered, feed-thieving, disease vectors, and they(and their cousin, the mouse) have been known to harrie even the most seasoned exterminators and determined farmers. They eat crops, decimate seedlings, kill chicks, and carry a number of parasites and diseases. And they are infamously difficult to get rid of once they’ve found you vulnerable in any way.
I’ve struggled plenty with what seems like an ever increasing number of rats and I am praying for a wet and cold winter to bring them back down to a manageable population. In the mean time I have tried just about everything to get rid of them. I’ll give you the pros and cons of my experience with various methods I tried and there are a few at the bottom of the article which are still on the roster.
Methods I have tried:
1. Classic snap-traps
PROS: Cheap, natural materials(wood and steel), non-toxic, minimal environmental impact.
CONS: They didn’t catch a single rat and all the bait was cleaned off each night, however I have heard from others who had great success
CONCLUSION: conditional recommendation
2. Glue Traps
PROS: cheap, non-toxic, pre-baited, easy to set in small spaces
CONS: They didn’t catch any rats, but they did catch my dog. Otto tried to eat the peanuts off of it and it got stuck to his face, which he then tried to scratch off, so it stuck to his paw. He was covered in sticky goop and panicked.
CONCLUSION: Would not recommend
3. Tomcat II Refillable Bait Station
PROS: pet, chicken, and child-safe, low risk of secondary toxicity (bromethalin)http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/rodenticides.pdf
CONS: risk of poisoning to other animals, possible secondary toxicity to raptors and chickens, rats were not very interested in the bait station blocks caused inconsistent results
CONCLUSION: Results Mixed, conditional recommendations
4. Tomcat II modified bait in homemade bait station (mixed bromethalin pellets with chicken food in a bowl under a crate with weight on top)
PROS: rats very interested, effectively killed 1-6 rats per day
CONS: risk of poisoning to pets and livestock, possible risk of secondary toxicity to raptors and chickens, must be refilled daily and removed before letting out pets and chickens
CONCLUSION: Good results, conditional recommendation
5. Coyote Pee – 33-day dispensers
PROS: non-toxic, low environmental impact, supports zoos and rescues, natural deterrent, so far this seems effective in my chicken run
CONS: expensive, may attract coyotes, smelly, may aggravate pet dogs
CONCLUSION: Deterred rats for only a few days, would not recommend
6. Plaster ‘Grapes’ (made from plaster, oil, and peanut butter)
PROS: non-toxic, low environmental impact, easy to make, cheap
CONS: slow death for rats
CONCLUSION: unquantifiable results, no harm if ineffective, recommended
Other methods I have not tried:
Hire the Mongrel Hoard, a team of human and canine ratting experts who work with you in your property for several hours to eradicate rats. Rate is $75 and a 6-pack of beer, but he doesn’t recommend his service in urban areas since rats usually travel between smaller properties.
Some people also claim that barn-cats can be very effective with rats, however this is a heavily debated topic as others believe that cats will only go after mice and have no interest in rats. Unfortunately, with three people who are severely allergic to cats in our house, it isn’t a method I can test.
I have also been told that Havahart humane animal traps are very effective at catching rats. The downside of course is that you then have to dispatch those rats yourself.
Obviously prevention is the best way to go about controlling rats, and any deterrent measures should go hand in hand with removing the attractants like accessible feed, produce, and places to hide. And don’t make my mistake. If you find a nest of adorable baby rats, don’t leave them for the elements. Momma-rat will come collect them and raise them up to terrorize you for your mercy. If you must, find them a home, but whatever you do, don’t just let them go because you’re too much of a bleeding-heart to kill fuzzy babies. You’ll regret it. I certainly do.
Is there a method that I have not listed which works for you?
Please share it in the comments!