RATS AT HOME
In part two of this article the editor is still trying to rid his
Last month, I described how my keen interest to hunt rats had taken something of a turn when I found them under the compost bin beside my house. I set out to shoot them, but with little luck, and because we have dogs, I refused to use poison, even though I understand that it’s the most likely route to success. Plan B was to buy some traps to aid my shooting efforts, which I buried deep under logs and old paving slabs to prevent my Labradors from disturbing them. I also placed a Hawke trail camera overlooking the hole to try to understand when they were most active.
I’m pleased to report that at last I managed to shoot … one. Oh dear. Not too good, eh? The camera was still showing activity, but they stubbornly refused to come to my baiting point in front of my .25 calibre BSA Scorpion. They also refused to go into the traps, no matter which bait I used; Nutella, cheese, meat or nuts – they just wouldn’t bite. As I threw in some more vegetable peelings, which I imagine they thought was a homedelivery meal, into the compost bin, I could see that the network of holes had reached the top
Not going well
This wasn’t going well for me and I really didn’t want the rats getting into my home. I needed a fresh plan. I tried to work out if I could get a shooting position overlooking the hole beside the compost bin, as you see it in the black and white, night -time photos. If I put a bench with bags on the top, that would cradle the rifle and with the use of night-vision, perhaps I could catch them as they came and went. A little bait might cause them to hesitate long enough to feel a .25 H& N FTT arrive in their ear, and end their tyranny!
Behind the place where I hoped to shoot them was my neighbour’s wooden fence, so the first job was to put an old, concrete slab against it to stop any rogue pellets from causing damage. I was watching a video
“Looking back at the photos from the Hawke trail camera I began to wonder. Was this all done by just one rat?”
recently on YouTube, filmed with a high-speed camera, in which a chap hunting rabbits had documented the strange and unlikely angles that pellets had exited after passing through their heads. I didn’t want any such worries, so I put an 18” square slab against the fence, for complete confidence that every pellet would be stopped inside my property.
In the darkness, I set up a bench with a chair on a lawn overlooking the exit hole of the rat’s den, and then turned out all the lights at the back of the house. Bait was dropped all around this area, hoping to delay their journey in or out of the hole long enough for a telling shot. With the rifle perfectly zeroed and its sights placed in the centre of the bait area, how could I fail?
Rats survive by being adaptable and clever, allowing them to prosper in almost any environment around the globe, but I was determined that they wouldn’t survive in my garden! Still determined not to resort to poison, I refreshed the bait in the traps and planned some evening over-watch times to show them who was boss.
Yet again, I have to report failure. They just wouldn’t come out. I needed Below right: STOP PRESS! I finally shot a large adult on some grain bait to empty the compost bins around the garden to nourish the beds and I was losing patience. In the end I grabbed my broom and began to plunge the long handle deep into the compost in an attempt to flush the rats out and after a minute one big, healthy rat made a dash for freedom. I kicked some soil over the hole so that I could look the following day to see if it had been reopened. It hadn’t, so now was the time to empty the bin and put it onto some chicken wire mesh so that rats wouldn’t be able to get underneath again in future.
Looking back at the photos from the Hawke trail camera I began to wonder. Was this all done by just one rat? It certainly looked the same in every picture and was much like the one I saw run. If so, perhaps there were no baby rats in Mrs Rat’s tummy and getting rid of the one I saw might do the trick.
Straight after Christmas, the shovels and the wheelbarrow were dusted off and put to work distributing the lovely, dark compost all around the garden, for the worms to carry down into the soil. Broad swathes of galvanised chicken wire were set under the bins and some of the good, live compost was put back to start the cycle all over again. Only time will tell if my battle with Mr Rat has been won or lost.
“I’m pleased to report that at last I managed to shoot … one. Oh dear”
Main: This was how I waited. I borrowed some night vision from a friend for the job
Right: The Hawke trail cam captured this little chap going about his work
Below left: After hours of waiting in the dark I shot this youngster
Left: The traps were no use, even when baited with Nutella inside the compost bins