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Oh Rats!

It started as an agreement for peaceful co-habitation.  Then it ate half of my Christmas Lima Beans right through the young green pods.  Then it pulled out all of my pea sprouts, nibbled on the ends, and left them for dead.

That’s when we declared war on the rat.

eatenbeanpod

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note the dark lines outlining the eaten area. Now dry, this bean pod was eaten through while green,
leaving the pod empty and the beans devoured.

Prior to this year, our garden was relatively rodent-free, but when our next-door neighbor tore down their house to build a new one, suddenly we became the top vacation spot for furry things with skinny tails.  At first we saw one running across the top of the fence, to and from the compost bin.  Fine, I thought.  Aerate my compost bin for me. It can’t hurt.

Bit by bit, or shall I say bite by bite, we realized that it was doing more than rummaging through the compost bin.  Nibbles out of lettuces, tomatoes eaten straight off the vine before I could pick them, and sad-looking sweet peas with crew cuts lead us to believe that drastic measures were needed.

So much for peaceful co-habitation.  My husband and I made an agreement – if I buy the traps, he’ll set them and take care of any subsequent results.  Perfect!

<<Cue Mission Impossible music>>

Traps: I ordered 6 traps from Amazon.com for starters.  Research recommends setting 10-15 traps in various places, but I didn’t want to go overboard.

Bait: Husband (A.K.A. Andrew the Exterminator ) brought out the big guns – stinky cheese.  We have a ton of it, much of it too far gone for human consumption, but perfect for bait.

stinkycheese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s really a good thing that this isn’t a Scratch-n-Sniff photo

Action: He set the traps and placed them along borders and walls, perpendicular to the wall, as instructed.

stinkycheeseintrap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trap set against the retaining wall of the raised bed with the beans

We waited.

Results: For a couple of nights, the traps would be tripped, cheese taken, but no catch.  In fact, one day a trap disappeared altogether. We believe that there’s an opossum running around out there with a trap-train behind his tail.  We tried almond butter as bait at one point, but it went unnoticed.

I won’t go in to the details, but since setting up the traps we have successfully “disposed of ” 3 rats, and more importantly, the garden is safe from damage.  We refresh the bait every few days if the traps haven’t been tripped.

I have mixed feelings about killing rats.  As a vegetarian I have a hard time killing anything, but there is part of me that understands that measures need to be taken when the garden is out of balance.  Sure, we could have gotten a few cats, or tried less “final” solutions, and if I didn’t have Andrew the Exterminator, I certainly would have gone in that direction.  That said, it’s nice to know the garden is protected from further harm.

If you don’t feel like trying this severe approach, you can use other methods listed here:

Rats in the Garden

Have you had success with vermin control in your garden?  Share your methods here.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Audrey Bishop

    I use a “rat zapper”…bit expensive (around 40 bucks) but does a clean kill ( electric shock..4 D batteries). I couldn’t handle the regular traps.and husband refuses to do any of the gross stuff. I got tired of losing my well earned veggies to rats, so I overcame my squeamishness. So far, 3kills this week. (No need to touch the body, just tip it out.) I use dry catfood as bait..only need a few pieces. I switch it off during the day time and on again before I go to bed.

    1. Christy

      Audrey, We’re about to go in that direction ourselves. Our snap traps are so rusty they don’t do the job anymore. And in the interest of keeping the cat safe, we’re moving up to the electric pet-safe contraption. We’ll report our findings soon.

      BTW – great idea about the cat food as bait. That’s so much easier than stinky cheese or peanut butter!

  2. andrew

    I like to take an almond and smash it into the bait section, so the oils get released and a piece of the nut is wedged in there. I will also use a wire and nail my traps to something that will not move if a trap goes missing. I have been told that possums and raccoons will eat the dead or struggling rat. They will take your traps with the rat.

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