Have I ever expressed my hatred of rats before? If not, it's coming out now and I have a very good reason, for now there are only three....
I knew something was going on when most of my hens quit roosting on their roost at night, instead sitting up in the nest boxes, on the window sill, even on top of the door. But didn't realize what it was until early last Saturday morning, I went to do chores before leaving for the Junk Roundup at Alton and encountered a rat in the chicken house, I'm not sure who was more freaked, me, the rat or the hens but I can tell you who vowed vengeance against the scurvy creature, ME!
I HATE RATS!!
At night I shut up the coop tightly and set a trap inside one of the little chicken doors with bricks piled to block the opening but no one took the bait. The little red hen was out in the blue jay cage, where I thought they were safe. After two days of not catching anything, I stepped it up and shoved rat bait everywhere around the coop that I could find, using a stick to poke it underground so nothing else could get it. I also found a couple of holes around windows that I patched with tin to make the coop a fortress against unlawful entry.
Friday morning I was doing chores, opened the coop door and stepped inside and found a dead rat in one of the chicken feeders, YIKES!! But at least he was dead. I had to get leather gloves to fish him out, I had the urge to beat the tar out of him but, since he was already dead, seemed like an exercise in futility and tossed him unceremoniously into the burn barrel.
Burn, baby, burn!
I looked around the coop and saw where I had bricks piled, I'd left a rat sized opening so removed the trap completely, I wanted all the doors shut and locked, and barricaded and booby trapped and tar and feathered and boiling oil and anything else that would rid my coop of the vermin.
And that was before I made the heart breaking find in the blue jay cage, my first inkling that something had gone terribly wrong was when I didn't hear the little red hen clucking, she is always talking to the chicks. Silence, I lifted the rug that kept the wind out and she was huddled at the back, silent. I had to nearly crawl into the cage to reach her and lifted, fearing the worst, three chicks popped out. I looked around, moving everything, hoping he was just hiding but the fourth chick was gone. I have no doubt a rat got it, they don't just disappear.
I moved her out of the blue jay cage and into one of the apartments in the chicken coop where I can lock them in securely at night. Then I removed the last of the food and water from the cage and left a helping of rat bait, which was gone this morning, so I left another helping.
I visited the coop a little later to see how they were settling in and there was a rat running round!!!! I grabbed a club outside the door to whack him but he was too quick and escaped. I know he came in the west door so I shut it up tight and went into the scratch yard with more bait, I found tunnels and I also found a dead rat in one tunnel. I shoved more bait in and then plugged it with a rock and stomped it into the hole.
To be absolutely sure I didn't have any rats in the coop at night, I retrieved the game camera from the farm where it is on duty keeping it safe from two legged rats and set it up in the coop. Nothing moved till early morning when the hens started coming off the roosts and I felt I could release the little red hen and chicks from the cat carrier I'd locked them into last night.
Kind of like locking the barn door after the horse thief leaves?
After doing chores this morning, I returned to the coop and there was another rat running around!!! I grabbed my club but again it escaped, this time out the east door past the little family huddled in the corner. Upon inspection, I found another rat hole, baited and rocked it then I set the camera back up to see if it came back.
No rats, but it is kind of fun to spy on the chickens as they go about their daily business, one of the little Serama hens pecking around.
Then she spies the camera....
|"What the hey??"|
One of my many trips where I stealthily grab my club and step in, hoping to use the business end on a rats head.
The Barred Rock hen, heading for the nest box to make a deposit.
Me again, no rat and I can't say that isn't a good thing.
The little Serama, finding a lovely patch of sunlight....
.....AAAH, there is nothing better than basking in a patch of sun.
I have no idea how bad my rat infestation is, I've battled mice before but I can handle them, I can't handle rats. With all the poison I've shoved down rat holes and how greedily they are gobbling it up, I certainly hope I have some very sick or dead rats. Tonight I'm putting the game camera in the blue jay cage to see how many come for the bait banquet.
At least I know the coop is secure until I get rid of the rest. Stay tuned for updates on the rat war.
Update, just out by the coop picking up some stuff and there lay another dead rat, that is good bait.
Updated again at 10 PM, just got home from a night out with friends, I went out to shut the chickens up and there was ANOTHER RAT scurrying around, although he was definitely feeling the effects of rat poison, he didn't quite have control of all his faculties. Murphy was right behind me and all I had to do was scream, "RAT!" and she dove into the coop and had him. By then Mollie was at the door and promptly took him away from Murphy! I had to get leather gloves and pliers again then told Mollie to "Drop it," which she did, Murphy tried to get him but I was quicker. He also went to the burn barrel. Then I brought the dogs to the house and gave them some cheese to try to wash the terrible taste of rat out of their mouths. Tomorrow I might cook them a steak as a reward.