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I assume that rats are included as wildlife even though they are a pest and the only animal that I really do not like. 

Ever since the frost lifted in the Vendee about ten days ago there has been an explosion of rats on my half acre property.  There appeared to be three distinct colonies each separated by about 40 metres, one on either side of the house and the other in the garden shed.  They were not particularly noticeable prior to this which is why I am so surprised.  What is more surprising is that there is no obvious source of food for so many.  We are 400 metres from our nearest neighbour, no livestock other than a dog and they certainly have not got to his food, no farm and no grain.  What do so many eat?  Is it possible that they are able to process contents / run off from the fosse septique?  Doesn't bear thinking about.

 

At the moment I have resorted to poison which I do not like and am wondering whether any other members have experienced similar problems and have found practical solutions.  I am even thionking of getting a cat and that is only slightly above poison on my list of dislikes.

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You are lucky to have the space for them to ber so far away from your living quarters.

I have them in the space between my ceiling and the floor of the flat above, and often hear them waltzing around.

They come up  out of the égouts, and we have to get the service d'Hygène de la Mairie to come a de- rat periodically.

I have killed them with sachets of poison, with a strong version of a sort of mouse trap (which wasn't a pretty sight), and by battering with a heavy bar, but I'm past this now.

Apparently keeping a terrier discourages them from getting too close, but I dislike dogs.

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A rats diet isn't what most people believe it to be, be it a grey rat or a black rat. What you have is almost definitely grey rats and they eat seeds, grains, slugs, snails, other small rodents, (dead or alive), roots, birds eggs, frogs, insects, human food residues and when food is thin on the ground they eat each other. Outside they are not an issue, we have plenty here and our dog regularly catches them.

Poisons are an abhorrence and either kill or reduce the life span of too many non target species, cats and dogs included as has been said, ask any French vet.

Chris

 

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I do take your point [and agree with it] about poisons and at 71 I can honestly say this is the very first time in my life that I have stooped to this level BUT I have also never come across ratsin these numbers before and it is not numbers that I am prepared to tolerate.  I have kept domestic livestock for much of my life and always tolerated the odd few rats even when I managed a farm I never came across such activity.  Much of the diet you, Chris, speak of is seasonal and not available at present. Usually there is a staple food source in the vicinity and in this case there is not.  If your list is comprehensive then they are eating each other and roots; in which case I would not expect them to be in a position to breed. and I won't have what I laughing describe as a lawn next year.  Many thanks.
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Hmmm, If you are in Vendee I think you will find that there is plenty of food about. Wandering around my place at present there is heaps of life in evidence including rats.

Anyway, what about rat traps, either cage or snap? Should be fairly easy to tempt them with something interesting.[;-)]

Chris

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Running Dog - Your problem sounds positively awful. In the UK, I lived next to a docklands and found the rats intimidating.  I can sense by your latest posting that you are at the end of your tether.

Chris pp is one of the most knowledgable wildlife experts on this Forum and offers very good and caring advice to anyone with a wildlife problem.

I do not recommend poison.  Once I came back from a holiday to find a major invasion of mice and put down poison in 'dog-proof' containers.  They weren't.  The mice took the poison out of the containers, dropped it and the dog ate it.  He was seriously ill, dribbling saliva in copious amounts.  The dog survived but I was pretty upset about the thought of the mice dying in such a ghastly way.  I then bought some humane traps and released the captured mice 5 miles from my house!

Traps has to be an option.  Chris pp : what kind of traps do you recommend and what do you do with the trapped rats?

 

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I was looking at some traps today as it happens and I have to say I thought the snap traps looked as though they could be a bit dangerous to other creatures, a cat or a dogs nose or their feet. Cage traps are to my mind the best option then you can be sure what you have caught, then decide what to do with it. Either take it somewhere else and release it or kill it. One way which is swift is to put it in a strong, long narrow sack and swing it hard against a wall or tree, but I do mean hard, flip it out and check it's dead. To be sure you can give it a good clout on the back of the neck. The main thing is to do the job quickly, never any need for undue suffering.

Chris

 

 

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Hi All - I feel suitably chastised and mildly repentant.  I agree with all comments in principle but not necessarily in detail.

Chris - I have, in the past, used the 'beating' technique and found it good in theory but more difficult in practice.  Rats are extremely fast at climbing and escaping and a small rat hasn't the mass to successfully beat against a wall.  Again cage traps are quite expensive and where there are multiple colonies the cost can be quite intimidating.  Rats can breed at an alarming rate so my excuse for using poison is that I felt the need to contain the problem before it got any worse.

Cathy - I don't know whether they find their way back or not.  What I do know is that once a particular niche becomes vacant, provided there is a food source, something suited to that particular niche will fill it.  Whether it is an animal released previosly is difficult to ascertain because particular individuals are difficult to identify as particular individuals.

Mamy thanks and a Happy New Year to you all.

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Shoot them,

If done properly it's much more humane than some of the awful suggestions posted on here. A planed cull with the runs identified and a good hide constructed can remove the problem in a very short time.

A neighbour had a particularly bad problem after an old barn next to her property had been cleared out. We shot over 40 rats in two evenings and the problem has not returned.

A high power air rifle is perfectly adequate for rats, ensuring a clean kill and safe in an enclosed environment.

 

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I remember watching a programme on TV a few years ago when somebody had a problem with rats underneath a chicken hut.  The owner invited a local terrier group round to deal with the problem.  One of the party had what looked like a petrol brush-cutter with all the extras stripped off leaving just the engine with a pipe connected to the exhaust.  This engine was then started and the pipe shoved underneath the chicken hut.  You should have seen the number of rats that came out and were dealt with by the terriers.  Looked like quite an efficient way of dealing with the problem.

It doesn't work with moles though[:(]

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Heard on the BBC the other day (forget which program, I'll check) that ALL rat poisons available over the counter are now ineffective as rats are immune.  I've used snap traps to good effect but I agree there seem to be more rats about lately, or am I just getting better at spotting them? The thing about traps is that you should check them at least twice a day. I'm not keen on rats but would not make one suffer any more than I had to. So far all the rats (and there's been quite a few) have had a quick death and not just trapped.

Farmer/neighbour keeps them under control to an extent with dogs and shotgun.  He comes on my land (with my full permission and when I'm not 'in residence')   and does the deed from time to time.

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[quote user="Weedon"]

I remember watching a programme on TV a few years ago when somebody had a problem with rats underneath a chicken hut.  The owner invited a local terrier group round to deal with the problem.  One of the party had what looked like a petrol brush-cutter with all the extras stripped off leaving just the engine with a pipe connected to the exhaust.  This engine was then started and the pipe shoved underneath the chicken hut.  You should have seen the number of rats that came out and were dealt with by the terriers.  Looked like quite an efficient way of dealing with the problem.

It doesn't work with moles though[:(]

[/quote]

Hopefully those rats will not have been pre poisoned though or you would have a lot of ill/dead dogs !

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As I remember the terriers grabbed them by the neck to gave them a good shaking, then their handlers took the dead ones from them to dispose of them.  I don't recall the dogs eating them.  I would imagine the owners of the terriers were well aware of the dangers of poison. 

Personally, I play Des O'Connor records and have never had a rat problem.

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Himselfs brother had a problem with rats eating his supply of chicken feed. He set up an old oil drum with a bit of grain in the bottom, and placed it so the rats could jump into it. (and obviously they then couldn't get out.) I think he got 20+ in just one evening.  I'll spare the details of how he 'disposed' of them. [+o(]

Mog caught a hooge rat the other day! Having cats around we don't have much of a rodent problem.

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I agree with Bugbear that shooting is the best option; clean and efficient if you are a reasonable shot.  However I have a natural aversion to guns and lack the patience to sit in a hide/s - 3 in my case [in the cold!!!].  I also do not like cats, however efficient they may be, because their predatory instincts are not restricted to rodents.

The electronic humane killer looks good - I had not realised that 'things' could be electrocuted by battery power!  The 'noose' trap also looks good but I feel less confident than with the former - for some reason or other.  I don't intend using live traps as I want something that kills them there and then.  I may well try one of the electronic devices.

The trouble is with these devices is that they take a while to order and get to France [my mole traps took nearly four weeks] so, when confronted with an immediate problem I did not feel that I had that sort of time to play with.  I stand by my decision but will take steps to ensure that I don't have to repeat it.

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Shooting is fine with a shotgun if you have a permis de chasse. Shooting a creature with an air weapon in France?? Best ask your neighbor about the law on that one.

Clubbing to death is completely humane if performed properly and with confidence.

Chris

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