This short guide is written from my own experience of controlling rats and mice around my smallholding and poultry houses.
Rodents are opportunists, and move in where shelter and food is available. You therefore need to cut down on places where they can live and cut down on the food sources. A good tidy up will hopefully help reduce rodent hiding places, which may not be obvious. Compost heaps are fantastic for rats, they are warm, easy to dig out and full of lovely food, a bit like the Ritz equivalent of a rat hotel. Timber stored outside is a rat haven, as are the more obvious hay and feed stores. Try to avoid storing items too close to walls and the ground, to allow for access for baiting or terriers.
Before laying traps and bait, try to cut down on food sources for the vermin. Feed poultry and livestock more carefully in feed containers, and remove unused feed to secure bins at night. Store new feed in vermin proof bins and clean up spills and wasted feed. Vermin control is better if carried out as a neighbourhood action, so avoid feeding wild birds and clean up bird tables. Bait take up is better is the vermin are hungry, if the vermin take in insufficient bait then they may build up resistance to the bait and may also suffer symptoms without dying. A hungry rat is also more likely to visit traps so can be caught that way if baiting is not an option.
Vermin can be caught by baiting, traps or by good cats and dogs. Bait is quiet and effective, disadvantages are that you may have a dead rat in an inaccessible place, bait may be accessed by other non target animals and some folk just don't like the notion. Rat traps can be live catch or designed to kill, these need to be visited regularly to reset and remove contents, advantage is that at least you know you have a body and no smells! A good cat will keep vermin numbers down, but cats are fickle creatures and work their own hours, a cat from farm bred stock will be more effective than a cattery raised pedigree. Terrier dogs are usually very keen to help catch rats, be aware that a cornered rat may bite so be prepared to treat bites and scratches.
When laying bait use proper bait tubes and boxes such as the ones sold by Foxfield Fowls. These must be placed out of reach of domestic pets and livestock. Place in known rat runs and conceal from casual passers-by. Use a good quality bait and read all instructions before starting. Have a disposal strategy for dead rats and unused bait worked out in advance, it would be polite to advise neighbours that you are laying bait if they have animals that may be able to access your property. Keep empty packaging fron bait in case of accidental ingestion to show relevant medical authorities. For normal domestic infestations baiting or trapping should resolve the situation within a few weeks, if vermin numbers are not falling then you would be advised to seek professional help from either your local council or pest control operatives.
Copyright/IPR remains with Foxfield Fowls/Sharon Jackson
Rat and Mice Vermin Control,by Foxfield Fowls
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12 January 2008
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