You mention The Rodent Problem.... Our cats have the mice under control. However, we just discovered a rat "problem" here in early fall. In conversing with some of our farming friends, we found out that apparently everyone
has a problem with rats this year--even farmers who never had a problem before.
Norway rats (that's what these are) can get up to 10" plus the tail (yes, we saw it with our own eyes)
, so most cats will only go after the really young ones. We have plenty of excellent mousers on the job, but these things aren't mice!
So, they multiply and do damage even with cats around (although, after you have them under control, the scent and activity of cats can help deter rats).
I quickly did research as soon as I discovered our problem and tried a number of products (snap traps, sticky traps, bucket traps). I have made a personal resolution to avoid dangerous poisons because of my livestock animals and pets, and because of secondary poisoning dangers to raptors, etc. who are on our side in this battle.
Everything worked--a little. In a week's time, I caught about 4 rats.
Not bad....but not too good, considering we were seeing them near other sheds too, and a single pair can multiply to 1,200+ rats in a year.
My great motivator to get rid of them quickly was their proximity to our house.
In my research, I found that a lot of homesteaders use one of two non-toxic "poisons" that are very effective: baking soda; or plaster of paris. Either of these is mixed with an equal amount of flour/cornmeal/cornmeal muffin mix/ground-up-favorite-food (animal feed, dog food, etc.--whatever they are getting into). Grind it up so they can't just pick the food pieces out of the powder. Put it where they are used to eating (a few cups) and check your pile regularly to see the activity (and add more). After a day or two, you should see the activity go down, and you may see a slow rat...or a dead one.
Location: Don't put it out in such a way that your animals eat a quantity of it. Even though my research shows there is little to no danger for my animals, I didn't do an experiment to see how much would make them sick.
Keep up the program vigilantly, because colonies of rats send out scouts and will happily take over an area that has ample food, water and shelter when it is abandoned. Our experience: we had "waves" of new colonies come through for a few weeks. Activity would cease and there would be evidence of mortality. A couple days went by and then......Each time a colony arrived, it looked like a group of new kids on a playground that evening (yes, they do play)---about 30-50 in each group from what I could quickly count. In the end, I estimate we got rid of about 150-200 rats.
The evidence now is that there aren't many left (thanks be to God) but I will continue to be vigilant lest the happy couple that's probably left become---a lot of rats.
Up to 22 babies in a litter...each month...becoming mature to breed at 6 weeks....
Just look up plaster of paris or baking soda for rats (it works for mice, too) online. You will get a lot of information. You'll probably also find some fun things on rat dogs, mink and air rifles [I can see how this problem could turn into a sport--like fox or coon hunting!]
Tip: try to keep everything "the same" for the rats until you have a handle on the situation, because they are very suspicious by nature and--really smart. If you change things before you can be effective, they will change their habits--and then it won't be so easy to fool them.
We saved our rat-spoiled bags of goat feed to use as the bait in the mixture. We actually left it in a big plastic garbage bin with a ramp up to it right where they were used to getting it, and a few inches of poison powder on top. That way, they could keep to their routine to find food while they were meeting their demise.
Hope this information helps some folks out there! God bless you! And, Saint Francis & Saint Martin de Porres, pray for us!
If you're squeamish about killing rats, let me assure you: These aren't pet rats
. They will destroy your buildings and spread disease to your animals and family if you don't take care of them in a timely fashion.