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Talkback: Of rats and tree rats

At the end of the summer I was planting bulbs and decided our now redundant terracotta BBQ would look great in the spring with Narcissus. I'd been filling it with diseased leaves over the summer, planning to burn them but never getting around to it but I am so glad I hadn't. Deciding to remove these to fill with compost, a small nose and two eyes of a brown mouse poked out of the bottom under the grate to see who was removing their home! So, I decided having a mouse living in the BBQ was a much better contribution to nature, put the dried leaves back and the bulbs went into ordinary pots in the end.


  • Suzi, unfortunately you may have to call the environmental health people in. I used to feed the birds with black sunflower seed in those upside-down plastic bottle feeders and the starlings spread the seeds far and wide. I watched a couple of rats feed and collect seeds (I keep fancy rats so I was enchanted - at first) But then they brought their mates and relatives in to feast on the bounty and I had to give in and get The Rat Man in. It was awful, but there really wasn't an alternative. It turned out that next door's shed was FULL of black sunflower seeds. It was costing me a fortune! I hope you don't have to resort to the Rat Man. Good luck, Greta
  • Reply to Teresa. If rats are taking the bird food, it may be that you are putting out too much. There was a time when bird food was only put out in winter, or even just when snow was on the ground. Birds are very good at finding their own natural food. Try a break in your artificial feeding. This will discourage the rats and at the same time you can see whether there is a real down turn in bird visitors to your garden. Alternatively just use small feeders that hang from strings... although the spillage from these will still feed the rats.
  • Reply to Greta - Thanks for your concern. There are too many cats in my garden. I've never seen a rat out there although mice are regular 'prizes' in the kitchen first thing in the morning.
  • Rats decided to take up home in my compost bins in December and I had to call in the rat catcher to put down poison. I am going to buy a compost tumbler this year and get rid of the bins.
  • Hi, living in the countryside field rats are the norm. I took the lid off one of the composters last week to see three baby rates munching thru a rotten bunch of grapes. Doesn't personally bother me too much as I have a terrier and she certainly keeps numbers down. Don't think I would like to have a picnic with them though!
  • Hi there, Last winter one of the panes in my greenhouse got broken and unfortunately I neglected to replace it promptly. When I got round to repairing it I found a young female brown rat had taken up residency in an old plant pot, luckily there was no sign of little ones and though I was tempted to try to get her to remain around common sense prevailed and I let her go.
  • Why are people always trying killing rats? Three years ago I had one make a home for the winter in my shed and ate all my flower seeds (my own fault for leaving them in there on the shelf) but where he had made a hole in the floor I put a metal plate down to stop him. Next winter he made a hole two inches past the metal plate little git lol so I made it bigger this year. So this year he made a nest in my compost bin i hope he enjoyed the veg I put in there but come the spring he goes back to where he came from so good luck to him and I hope to see him in the winter all wildlife needs somewere to live.
  • I have tried and fail to stop the rats digging holes from the garden next door, This has being happening for nearly 25 months and still the rats dig holes from the garden next door, Now I have 27 rat holes along the full length of the garden. Now I fear my children will catch a disease while they play unknowingly in the urine trials of these rats. The problem is that a person still feeds the birds regardless of all the other neighbors suffering
  • Reply to Ulrome: Unfortunately, you may have to call in the local public health people unless you can discuss this reasonably with your neighbour. In towns and cities, rats are almost everywhere, so there is no use panicking if you just see one. But if you have a severe infestation locally, and 27 rat holes does sound serious to me, you should at least seek proper help and advice. You imply that your neighbour does not care about the consequences of leaving out food for the birds. The local authorities, acting as an independent body, may have a policy which can include them in the warning/eradication programme, rather than alienating them by merely levelling accusations at them.
  • I have a thick black plastic compost bin in my allotment. I stood it on chicken wire to prevent rats getting in that way but they have eaten a huge round hole through the plastic about 30cm up the side. Should I get rid of them or just live with it as the allotments are not particularly close to any houses?
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