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Rat in the garden!

(57 Posts)
notnecessarilywiser Sat 02-Nov-19 17:32:35

Neighbour A used to feed the local foxes, and since she's a good friend I'd always expressed my disagreement with the practice. A couple of years ago, neighbour B was disturbed to see a rat in her garden - I half-jokingly suggested to A that was her fault. Because I didn't want to be visited by rodents, I didn't fill my bird feeders for the last two winters.

Having heard from friend A earlier this year that she no longer feeds the foxes, I thought I'd be safe to resume putting nuts and seeds in the bird feeders. Did so earlier this week, and was delighted to see the feathered visitors congregate as they had done in the past.

But ... this morning, I'm pretty sure I saw a rat trotting along the garden and behind my shed! (Added info : we live backing onto a woorland area, there's nothing in the shed that would constitute food for a rat or a family of them , I have no pets, Neighbour A has a dog and three cats, Neighbour B has a couple of dogs).

I'm not phobic about rats, but would really prefer not to provide accommodation to them. Equally, I'd be very disappointed to have to stop feeding the birds. Any advice for me?

phoenix Sat 02-Nov-19 17:38:22

Sorry to say that where there is bird food, rats will often appear to scavenge the odd bits that fall to the ground.

BlueBelle Sat 02-Nov-19 17:40:21

My neighbours kept a lot of rubbish in the garden and one day I heard the kids having lots of whopping so went out to find out and they were chasing a rat out their garden within a few days I started noticing the Lino in my loo chewed at the edges and the bottom of the door with gnaw marks I found out eventually it came in through the tumble dryer hole (now blocked with a plastic flower pot) managed to get rid of it with difficulty (I don’t believe in traps) so took me a lot of cunning but never had one since blocking the hole up
I don’t dislike them apart from their chewing of everything

LondonGranny Sat 02-Nov-19 17:45:44

Rats (and squirrels) hate chilli powder. It doesn't harm them, they just hate the chilliness. Get some extra-hot chilli powder (Asian shops do the cheapest big bags) and sprinkle it on rat-runs etc. Birds don't have the chilli receptor neurons so they don't notice, it's mammals that feel the heat.

LondonGranny Sat 02-Nov-19 17:49:43

btw, chilli powder, chilli oil and Tabasco is recommended to deter squirrels (and rats) by the RSPB so it's definitely safe for birdsbecause they can't detect it . Personally I wouldn't use Tabasco as it's too expensive!

LondonGranny Sat 02-Nov-19 17:50:32

You do need to reapply it though, especially after rain.

notnecessarilywiser Sat 02-Nov-19 19:40:32

Thanks, all! I guess the birds will have to forage elsewhere for the time being sad.

I'll keep the Tabasco for a Bloody Mary, but chilli powder looks like the way to go - this is exactly the sort of solution I was hoping for, so thanks for that LondonGranny.

BlueBelle - I hadn't considered them coming into my house! I'm now planning an inspection in the daylight tomorrow to see if bathroom extractor fan needs to be protected.

RosesAreRed21 Sun 03-Nov-19 09:53:37

Sadly I had to stop feeding the birds as it was attracting rats. You will never stop rats as there are so many around but you can stop encouraging them with food which unfortunately means that the birds might have to go without.

mischief Sun 03-Nov-19 10:18:38

I went away for a week last month to babysit my gch. I left some treats out for Bluetits, Sparrows, Robin's etc but was horrified to find a rat feeding when I returned. I took the treat down and binned it, then the rat actually clung to the peanut feeder and ate the peanuts. After chasing it away again, I saw a Sparrowhawk standing under the feeder. So all the feeders have now been taken down and everything cleaned up. I mentioned this to a neighbour and I was told that neighbours of hers have stopped keeping chickens so I suppose they are looking for another food source. It's such a shame as my friends and I have had so much pleasure sitting in the garden, drinking coffee and watching the birds this summer.

4allweknow Sun 03-Nov-19 10:19:03

Is your shed raised or is it flat on concrete? Sometimes if not flat rats get underneath, lovely hiding place for them. If all okay then a wooded area is a natural place for rats to inhabit. Any kind of food accessible will be a magnet for them. Saying that I too have woodland behind me and I feed birds. No rats visible. My DH made a tray/platform for the bird feeder to catch any seeds etc that would normally drop on to the grass. Perhaps this limits the food source for the vermin.

Damdee Sun 03-Nov-19 10:34:54

Is it really such an issue? We also live in an area near woodland and very near the river. There are occasional rats and mink, as well as foxes, mice etc. I wouldn't stop feeding the birds unless there was lots of rats. A few are not going to do you any harm. If you just feed the birds a certain amount per day and that's that it shouldn't develop into a rat problem.

SillyNanny321 Sun 03-Nov-19 10:35:11

Living by the coast we have gulls nesting on most of our roofs, apart from the miseries who hate them, we dont have a rat problem. We were told several years ago that rats & gulls do not get on so maybe this is why we do not see too many rats. There are fields at the back of our road so perhaps there is a food source for rats there?
Maybe we are just lucky???

notnecessarilywiser Sun 03-Nov-19 10:36:20

4allweknow - the shed is raised and the space below was deemed to be suitable for a bee's nest a few summers ago, so I guess they could be sheltering or living there. Chilli powder to be bought ASAP!

I've checked the extractor fan outlet and it's doubtful that a rate could access it (although I know they're very agile!).

Yorkshiregirl Sun 03-Nov-19 10:54:49

Rats love garden huts to nest in, and underneath them

midgey Sun 03-Nov-19 11:04:13

Isn’t the saying ‘Never less than six foot away from a rat’?

Dillonsgranma Sun 03-Nov-19 11:07:14

I wouldn’t stop feeding the birds. They depend on us in the winter months. I put block rat poison where I knew the rat was feeding, making sure nothing else could get to the poison. The blue blocks disappeared (apparently they take them back to the nest or den)
And that was the end of that!
My neighbour has a very overgrown unkempt garden which is the b perfect place for rats to live and breed.
I also told the council as it’s against the jaw to provide harbourage for vermin.Till the next time!!

Sussexborn Sun 03-Nov-19 11:09:41

I was told that if you can put a pencil through a hole then mice can get in. Perhaps rats can do something similar.

Our ex neighbour used to put masses of food out for the birds and it mainly attracted vermin as it stayed on the ground for days/weeks.

Birds should only be fed if you can be consistent which isn’t always possible for us. When it gets icy I put water out each day as it’s hard for them once everything freezes. I use an upside down dustbin lid propped up with bricks and then put a brick in the middle of the lid so the birds can rest on it. OH thinks I a m nuts!

MamaCaz Sun 03-Nov-19 11:12:34

Yes, there are rats everywhere, but the more food is readily available, the more likely they are to nest and breed near that food source.
The more rats there are in close proximity to your home, the greater the chances that they will find a way into it. Even if they don't, they can cause very expensive damage in your drains/sewage pipes.

inishowen Sun 03-Nov-19 11:17:03

My daughter has seen rats in her garden. She insists on throwing food for the birds on her grass. We've told her, food on the ground will bring rats.

Hetty58 Sun 03-Nov-19 11:21:23

I'm sure that they live (quite happily) in all the drains and sewers. What is important is to maintain the pipes so that they can't get out. There's no need to worry about them getting in!

Hetty58 Sun 03-Nov-19 11:23:51

We have hanging feeders only here and feed the birds year round. I've not seen any rats except near the river - where they do tend to nest, always near water.

MamaCaz Sun 03-Nov-19 11:34:21

They can cause the drains to collapse, and will usually have found or made ways in and out of them long before damage is suspected!

We have lived in our current home for over 20 years now, and I have lost track of the number of times that we have had to get pest control out to deal with the rat problems, and of the types of damage that have been done.
Sometimes we deal with it our self - like when they were treating my veg patch as a takeaway (who would have thought that they would get a taste for beetroot?), but for the drain infestations, and loft damage, we have got the professionals in.

Craftycat Sun 03-Nov-19 11:34:36

To be honest we all have rats in or around our gardens- even if we live in the middle of town. It is said that we are never more than a few feet from a rat. They prefer to keep away from us if they can.
I used to keep chickens & I often saw them around the shed where the food was kept. We now live opposite woodland so we know there are rats about. We do sometimes see one but the only time they get into house is when one of the cats brings one in & then it is dead.
They are not the dirty, disease prone animals you think- they are actually very clean animals. They just get a bad press.
I had a pet rat as a child & he was very sweet & really clean.
Don't stop feeding the birds- they do need the extra food at this time of year. Plus you have the fun of watching them.
You can always get one of those tall metal feeders that have 2 hooks for the food containers- it would take a very agile rat to climb them- we have several & never seen a rat on them. Feeding them on the ground is an invitation for the rats!
Learn to love your rat- they won't hurt you- they are far more scared of us than we are of them.

Jaxie Sun 03-Nov-19 11:42:42

I live near a river and have had rats living in my compost bin more than once, feeding on vegetable waste. They are, like mice, rather sweet, but when one got too cheeky, rummaging about near my back door I had to lay poison. I feel really bad about this vivez au dessus les autres and all that, but hubby leaves the back door open and I can't risk a rat in the house. I'll probably be reincarnated as a rat, and it will serve me right.

Aepgirl Sun 03-Nov-19 12:05:21

Do any of your neighbours have decking? In summertime when people eat outside, food drops down through any gaps and it's a constant source of food for rats. Also poisoned rats look for water so if you have a pond they will use that too. I've sprinted chilli and Tabasco over the floor in my shed and it seems to work SO FAR!