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when wildlife gardening goes bad

So, I didn't go to MOCCA (much to the relief of my bank balance) or build my greenhouse, because when I got home on Friday night I found a rat dragging a piece of rubbish into the ivy leaves behind the herb pots. A little poking with a broom handle revealed a rat-hole into next door's micro-patio (where the last set of ne-er-do-wells were inclined to keep heaps of barbecue rubbish). Oh frabjous joy. By the time damiancugley got home and timscience came round I was deep in dark thoughts about the warfarin and blocking holes with slate and dispatching poisoned rats with a shovel and other delightful memories of the year of rats on my parents' farm. Tim hugged me and explained that people who live in towns can call the council, he's good like that.

But I'm still feeling disheartened. I've not smelt the dog fox that was visiting the garden (and digging up grubs in the wildflower zone, but we'll let that pass) in weeks, and the hedgehogs have been conspicuous by their absence. The most exciting bit of wildlife I've seen since the sparrows fledged (out of the roof that I need to get fixed) has been a frog eating a slug bigger than itself. Which is sort of interesting but in a "dear god mother nature why!!!" sort of way.

Actually there were the bats. And the kestrel. But I digress. I'm on a wildlife corridoor, which I've been trying to preserve. Well, what a good idea that turned out to be! I'm trying not to use the more unpleasant chemicals in the garden -- why did I bother?

Also, how the hell do you exclude pets from a garden? I have at least five cats wandering through on an average night -- including a huge smokey grey tom, a recent arrival who is probably there because he heard about the rats. Any tips? I can tell my neighbours that there's likely to be poisoned rats about, obviously, but I've no idea where most of the cats are coming from.

The way the back gardens work round here, they may even be independent operators.


25th Jun, 2007 15:37 (UTC)
Re: pfaaaagh!
They seem to deter the cats - our garden is a cat free environment which, I think, explains the periodic rodent (small rather than large fortunately) visitations which we have dealt with in animal and environment unfriendly ways.
Well, since the whippet died. She dealt with the rodents in an environmentally friendly and semi-animal friendly way (that it to say friendly to the whippet, unfriendly to the rodents).
25th Jun, 2007 15:41 (UTC)
a whippet? now you're talking!
Or a jack russell. Maybe a dachshund. Alas, the greyhounds are a little too big to beard the rats in their lair.
25th Jun, 2007 17:47 (UTC)
Re: a whippet? now you're talking!
A little too big, and way too stupid, lazy, timid, and downright gormless.

I don't know if all whippets are good mousers - ours came with a rep (she'd been used for clearing out mouse nests on allotments) but we gave no thought to it... or to what she was doing pottering insouciantly round the utility room... until she went to the Great Duvet In The Sky and shortly afterwards the Vermin Invasion arrived!

Sadly I don't think it's the "done thing" to ask round rescue organisations for a "good ratter" (!). (Otherwise we might have done :D )
You do see larger dogs - g/hs and lurchers - noted as "has been worked" (i.e. used for hunting and coursing etc) but they note that for a reason - it means the buggers are "keen" and never mind rats, they'll take on cats and the local Yorkies too! (Yikes).

OTOH whippets are probably too small to take on the rats I've seen around.

Let us know what the council do anyway (do they send round men with two-by-fours?).
25th Jun, 2007 18:56 (UTC)
they "bait the area"
I believe this means rat-sized plastic pipe type thingies with yummy poison bait within. I'll let you know. Also, if it is effective. I hear rats are developing stronger stomachs all the time ...