Rats – they bit the Babies in their cradles, and ate the cheeses out of the vats, and made nest inside men’s Sunday hats….
That was a line from a play I was in when I was about 7 years old- way back when I was in a private all girls school. I don’t recall much of the plot but I do recall following whomever it was that played that part of the piper out of the auditorium. I think it was an adult and I was a rat (I’ve been called worse.).
Anyway this line from the play comes to me now daily (amazing what we can recall from our childhood) bc we have rats! Rats! In the chicken enclosure. Lots of them. I’ll call it what it is – an infestation.
And they are cute rats. Well ..until you see the tails. They kind of gross me out.
I’m told rats and chickens kind of go hand in hand. And since we have been here 7 plus years now I will agree. I had seen a rat once or twice over the years. And that was after we got chickens. When we moved in there were those rat poison feeder things all over. That should have been for-warning that rats had been here prior to our moving in.
But before I ever saw a rat I got barn cats. Three of them. And I’m thinking this might be why I only saw a few rats here in all those years and now I’m seeing so many. We don’t have a barn cat now. One retired across the street at our neighbors home where he chose the cushy life of an indoor cat who sometimes gets some outdoor time. – and the others have passed on.
I never thought the cats were controlling the rat population because I never saw a rat carcass. I only saw mice and birds left for me in the center Aisle of the barn. Someone even told me cats won’t kill rats but maybe they kill the little ones? I don’t know. But it seems like the population explosion here kind of coincides with the loss of our last cat last November.
Yesterday afternoon I caught motion out of my right eye as I was feeding the chickens and ducks meal worms. I figured it was a rat. Hubby Kevin had recently seen a couple rats looking at him from their holes in the ground -so he got some poison safe for other critters and poured it in the hole. I wanted to avoid the coop for a while because I didn’t want to see dying rats dragging themselves around my paddock and coop area.
See I hate killing things and Kevin -Bless him – knows this. So he tries to spare me from it and maybe his attempts at killing which included the poison and flooding their holes were half-hearted. After all we had only seen a few rats. But the other day Kevin saw one gallantly walking to the coop from the barn. I found a bag of chicken scratch chewed open and it’s contents spread across a work table in the barn. My son Zach reported seeing some rats in the coop. He would spray them with water to scare them off. Hmmm….I began to wonder if maybe we had more than we originally thought. And they are getting bold.
So back to yesterday. I saw the movement under the coop and figured it was a rat looking out at what I was tossing to the chickens. We have two coops and two chicken enclosures for two different flocks and I didn’t think any rats were in this enclosure but I guessed maybe they moved here after the Flood. You know the one hubby Kevin created by spraying the hose into their holes.
Only I would take photos and video of my rat problem! See they are kind of cute!
Well I was curious and I walked over to a covered run that extends out of the coop and leaned down and peeked in and what I saw was like fours sets of eyes looking at me and some busy critters jumping into and out of the coop where we have the food. And they weren’t chickens. Rats!
We all just stared at one another and then I began counting and holy of all things holy we have a problem! Darn it. I began looking at those cute little rats with their little ears and wiggly noses – they are so cute – well not the tails. Why are the tails so creepy?
The rats just kept doing what they were doing which was stealing my chickens feed and not caring I was there- and the little ones kept staring at me. Very brazen. The chickens are either fearful of them or used to them dining in their house.
Let me just stop here and say that my rats though a huge problem because of the sheer numbers of them are not the rats you see in the city. These are country rats and not the giant dumpster divers you see in the city. Country rats are not as bad as city rats. They hang in barns and chicken coops just getting into food not trash cans (though i suspect if they had a dumpster they might dive in it.) Anyway country rats aren’t as gross as city rats. I say this all in jest it but I kind of believe it. Do you like my rationalization here?
I thought back to the tale of the Pied Piper- could I get them to follow me to a safe place. Though I think in the real tale they are led to their deaths. In my grade school tale they were just led “out of town” because you know … little Kids. (I’m adding this link to the summary of the Pied Piper story. It’s scary… maybe I wasn’t a rat maybe I was a kid. But why did we do that play in 2nd grade. The ways of the world in 1970! Let’s freak the kids out! Here is the link.)
But I don’t think my fantasy can work and I think there are way toooo many for humane trapping. Like I want to say I saw maybe 10-15. Maybe more. I know… some of you experts will say -oh there are more. I know. (Insert sheepish grin emoji here. )
And when so many people would have run at the mere mention of rats I don’t. Ok if one got too close I might have run because of rabies fears. They don’t scare me like a big spider does. Gah. I even thought maybe I could hand feed them some of the meal worms I was doling out. Ok – No I didn’t but See how I am? I will not be party to their deaths. But killing them is what is coming. This is not a job for hubby Kevin – I’m calling in the big guns. Let them kill my rats.
I got online to my Carroll County farm exchange Facebook page and asked for exterminators names for rat infestations and got the name of one who uses safe products to get rid of them. We will be calling them asap.
Poor rats. They don’t know what’s coming. But It has to be. I may have actually spoken to them and told them to pack their bags. I have a tendency to talk to all animals. So now you know some more of my crazy. But we all have some crazy. At least I know they don’t really understand me!
Now I have to re-design our feeders. We (aka hubby) had recently made some out of PVC pipe and placed them in the coop. I now realize this has to be reworked. I don’t need food in the coops. Food can mean rats dining there. Having the rats in and out of there is not good at all. So back to the drawing board.
And I think it might be time to get some more barn cats.
I’ll keep you updated.
If you are at all curious take a look at this video. You will see rats and some chicken poop -so don’t look if you can’t take either of those.