Fremantle Gazette - - LIFESTYLE -

WE spoke to garden guru and all-round nice guy, Costa Ge­or­giadis from TV’s Gar­den­ing Aus­tralia about a prob­lem plagu­ing our yards at this time of year – rats.

Spread­ing dis­ease and scar­ing the kids, rats are set­ting up home in some sub­ur­ban gardens and even in­side houses.

As Costa says, the main thing to re­mem­ber is that ro­dents are op­por­tunists. If food is avail­able, they will come for it.

Rats tend to come into the palm trees when trees go into fruit. The tree puts out a fruit frond and as that ma­tures it be­comes quite sweet and that’s what they come up to eat. It de­pends on the tree, but this gen­er­ally hap­pens in sum­mer. If you take out the fruit frond be­fore it ma­tures that can help. When they drop on the ground they be­come a sludgy mess and rats like to eat that.

If rats are up and down a par­tic­u­lar tree, you can put a col­lar around the tree to stop them run­ning up. You could pop rivet a piece of flat tin around the trunk, a bit like what they use to stop pos­sums, and they can’t run up the metal and slide off.

If you leave the food out and the coop has a large open mesh they will come around. Try a pur­pose-built de­vice. Have the food in a chicken feeder with a lid on it and when the chicken steps on the pedal, the lid lifts, and then they eat. Then when they move, the lid goes down.

If you put food out, it’s best to have a com­post bin near the coop, and then rake up what the chick­ens don’t eat and put it in the bin with mesh un­der­neath so rats can’t en­ter.

Don’t leave dog food out. Peo­ple leave it out and rats go: ‘Happy days, I’ll just set up shop in the palm tree next door be­cause there is dog food on a daily ra­tion.’

There are of­ten con­se­quences to us­ing pest con­trol be­cause a dead body can be eaten by some­thing else, which can cre­ate prob­lems.

I had a cou­ple of rats set up shop in my place and had to get the good old-fash­ioned trap out and that dealt with them. You can look at dif­fer­ent ver­sions of traps but of­ten it’s a case of the sim­pler the bet­ter.

Sara Fitzpatrick

A rat in the garden.

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