Things have been a bit ratty around here.

Over the last wee while there has been a bit of a battle going on in the garden and up until recently I was the biggest loser.  There have been rats!  They have been so bold and brazen that they would waltz about in daylight hours like they owned the place.  I first noticed them when they ate an enormous hole in the side of the goat food bucket.  I’ve never seen anything like it here before and Snowy’s food has been stored in the same purple bin for the last couple of years.

Rat chewed goat food bin

Rats certainly don’t muck about to get what they want! The goat food is now in a metal bin.

I knew there were some in the compost heap because you could hear them squeaking and rustling about.  It’s not like I’d been putting cooked food, meat scraps or bread or any of the ‘no-no’s’ of composting.  It is all garden waste and kitchen veggie scraps.  I was doing everything right.  Maybe it was the habitat I have provided.  It is possibly a bit dry in there, but in our current water situation it is a bit dry everywhere.

Rat eaten Cucumber

It is so disheartening to come out each morning and see almost ready produce being eaten by someone else!

Another thing that alerted me to their existence in the garden was the almost ready sweetcorn was being stripped.  It isn’t like they were getting a great meal from it though, thanks to the lousy weather at the point of pollination for that batch.  But it was frustrating to have them reap rewards from my efforts.

rat proof seedlings

To protect the new seedlings from rat nibbling I put them in trays and elevated them in a way that would make it difficult for a rat to reach them.

Then they went into the greenhouse and nipped the tops out of the seedlings I had growing there.  I had tried so hard to get a beetroot crop this season and that was my last chance.  I was so cross.  Looking around the greenhouse I saw some of their droppings and this was when I realised I really needed to take decisive action.  The poop was enormous, which would mean there was an enormous rat out there – mocking me.  The final straw was when they harvested one of my unripe rockmelons and left it in the greenhouse, like they were sending me a message!  Something needed to be done and fast.

Rat eaten melon

This rock melon was dragged across the garden and left in the greenhouse. I mean…. what is this… a thinly veiled threat?

I started feeding them goat food in a location of my choosing in the hope they would be content there and wouldn’t eat anymore of my crops.  Then I made my plan.  I am not very good at checking traps, which is far from ideal and with the size of that rat I’m sure it would be able to shake them off as a mere scratch!  I don’t like using poison as we have some amazingly graceful hawks that ride the thermal air currents around here and then there is Fennel the Cat and Jasper the Dog to think of.  I would hate it if any of them became ill eating a dead poisoned rat.

Rat poop

Not wanting to be offensive – but this is the biggest rat poop I have ever seen!

So I decided to invest in a Good Nature humane trap.  It isn’t cheap but well worth it.  Firstly it takes care of itself for 25 kills at a time.  It is a set and forget kind of thing, and to be honest that is also my kind of thing.  First, it has some little detector kits that you place around the garden and wait three days.   On most of them I got evidence of rat activity as the detectors were a bit scratched up, but the one behind the compost heap got ripped to shreds on day 1.  So I had my spot and attached the device and waited.

Rat tracks

The good thing about having sand around the garden is you can notice the tracks and see who is lurking in the dead of night. I think it is safe to say these are rat tracks!

The great thing is the trap sends a notification to my phone when we’ve had a kill and last night I got 5 of the bug-gers!  It is just as well they send the notification as there wasn’t a pile of dead bodies lying around, so I’d never have know.  Apparently they remove their dead, goodness knows what they do with them, but I don’t imagine they have a funeral service.   The trap encourages the rat to poke his head inside to get to the bait and while it is licking the chocolate deliciousness it triggers a CO2 gas powered rod that rams into it and so it dies quickly and happy – eating some nice.

Good Nature rat trap

This cool Good Nature rat trap will save my garden!

I’ll keep feeding the goat food around the trap until I the day I wake up and see it all still lying there.   Then I may put out more detector kits and see if there is anywhere else that needs a bit of ‘special’ attention.     As we approach the autumn when rats and mice are out in force looking for a warm winter spot, it is a great time to put a dent in their populations.

Come again soon – I’ve been working on a bit of a project.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

NB: I’ve have not been sponsored in any way by Good Nature, I just bought the best piece of kit for my situation and I love it to bits.  Although I’m possibly a bit too delighted to receive a notification of a kill.  If you what to find out more check out their website: http://www.goodnature.co.nz.  Proudly designed and made here in Aotearoa.  Thank you Good Nature for a great product!

11 Comments on “Things have been a bit ratty around here.

  1. Any ideas for deterring 2 black Labs who are eating the fallen plums and have now moved to the apples and tomatoes???

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    • Hi Judi. I have to say I am quite new to dog ownership and it is by good fortune alone that our we dog seems to understand ‘no’. He came to us with the understanding of some basic commands. If a chicken gets out in the garden I can get him to just stop and wait instead of chasing the poor bird about the place. But I haven’t had to deal with any fruit or veggie stealing… I say yet…. as he seems to like apple cores. Short of fencing off the garden, I can’t think of anything else at this stage, but if you do come up with anything – let me know, I’m sure I will need this kind of advice some time in the future. All the best with it. : o)

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  2. I’ve only ever twice seen a rat around here, in both cases in a distinctly deceased condition. Our cats will kill rats, it seems, but they won’t eat them. (Tried that once, and it did not end well.)

    I like your trap – I think they use similar ones for possums, except you have to go and clear the piled bodies away. Possums are a bit dumb, it seems: they will literally climb over each other’s dead bodies to reach the alluring promise of food, without stopping to ask themselves why there might be so many dead possums around it.

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    • This was the first time I’d seen them around here but I am loving the trap – although I’m glad I got the one that sends the notification or I’d think it wasn’t working! I would never have thought they would take away their dead! The cat usually deals with the mice, however we did get a stoat in the chicken coop once and we lost a couple of chickens. But the next day there was a dead stoat on the lawn – thanks to Fennel the Cat looking after her own patch! : o)

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