Rats! We got rats! I read about it, how they would seek out places with shelter and food…and chickens. They have arrived.

I went outside to check the girls before bed the other night and the beam of my flashlight strayed yonder, just above the roofline of the meshed-in run, and a blanket of fur and pink little feet and long tails moved. The entire surface. It MOVED, I tell ya. Rats. Had to be two dozen of ’em.

I don’t consider myself squeamish in thw presence of vermin. I grew up with gerbils, saved baby mice, shared ownership of a guinea pig named Rabscuttle. In all my years as a teenage barn-schlepper for my horse friends, I’ve discovered many a mouse or rat or possum lurking behind (or inside) a bale of hay. Shoosh ’em away, I did–nothing more than a fly.

But this complete and utter CARPETING of rats, well, that called for some careful speculation. Like a, well, rat in headlights, I considered the situation. They did the same, their blinky little eyes flickering in the sudden light. Then, reacting to some high-frequency rat alarm, they scurried away. A chaotic frenzy of unravelling carpet, one might say. I shook off the slow-building panic that started to rise like vomit in the back of my throat and stood my ground. I will not run screaming and crying like a little girl, hands all aflutter. I will not jump on a chair and screech like so many apron-clad ’60s housewives. No, I stood my ground and watched them high-tail it behind the garage. I’m sure my teeth were showing through my gaping maw.

So yesterday found me standing in the insecticide aisle of Home Depot holding a variety of rat baits in my hands, considering the most humane–and poison-free method–of ridding my property of rats. After being assured by the department head that the $40 electronic rat zapper was “the best thing on the shelf,” I spelunked the cash down on the counter and went on my merry way.

This morning, eagerly (and very alarming to realize this) anticipating the night’s catch in the trap, I skipped outside to feed the girls and check the bounty, imagining two, three, maybe four or even FIVE dead rats piled up on top of one another in the trap. The light was blinking green. CAUGHTCHA! I howled inwardly, lifting the cover and peering inside to see–a dead cockroach.

Today, after resetting the trap, I hoped for a new chance. Upon feeding the chickens their dinner tonight, I noticed the trap had toppled over on its side. Again, rush up to the trap to check for goods, aaaaand….nothing. A squirrel must have gotten the shock of his or her life trying to get a little nibble of peanut butter out of the damn thing.

So we’re still working on it. I’ll keep you appraised of my progress.

On another note, Fall vacation kicks off Friday with a five-dayer in the Smokies. I’m anxious for the trip but nervous about leaving the girls. My neighbor will be Chief Chicken Tender during this trip, and I have no doubt he’ll do well this time as he’s done in the past. The real question is, how will the girls handle their new turnout area in my absence? (I just extended their outdoor range last week to offer a little more space. See pic…)

Back atcha next week!



3 thoughts on “Rats

  1. I have 2 male stray cats that adopted us years ago. We tried to keep them inside but they sprayed and even started peeing in our closets. Back out they went after being fixed. 6 yrs and 12yrs on for the other, they never leave the yard. Fed employees that lounge in our screened room and patrol at night.
    Last week we were gifted with a rat head! At least I know they are doing their job. Unlike you though, we don’t le ours free range out of the coop. No room and I don’t trust the cats or the girls. Hope you get it under control. I know your coop is so close to your garage. Mine is set back 30ft. Jealous of your trip, the colors of the leaves should be awesom safe travels!

  2. Mama Hen, never ever turn to any high school dropout at Home Depot for advice. Instead, call on a real expert, such as Urban Wildlife Ecologist Jeanne Murphy, who taught the workshop at Estuary Academy in March focusing on humane ways to evict wildlife from your home. My guess is that she’ll recommend a metal snap trap, but not sure since I’ve only used those on mice, not rats. But send her an email at jmurphy@sensingnature.com and ask. She will definitely know what will work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s