I don’t like rats. Although they are kind of cute and not necessarily a dirty animal, they are a pest. From observation I know that they are great climbers, quite nifty and very sociable. I have started trapping them around the shower area and the chicken run. It kind of started a few months ago with me having a shower and watching one walk past. Further, whenever I left soap anywhere near the shower area, they had a solid go at it. If they love soap, why not using is at bait?
At the moment I trap about 8 rats a week. While this might sound like heaps, perhaps it doesn’t only sound like it, Great Barrier Island certainly has heaps of rats. They multiply very quickly, there is plenty to eat for them, and trustworthy and accurate research and statistics are extremely scarce. I’ve read somewhere an estimated rat population for the Island of 280000.
Well, if that were true there’d be circa 1000 rats per square kilometre. I’ve got about 360000 square meters. Between my trivial trapping and Momo’s hunting, we’ll kill more than 300-400 a year. This is using two traps and one lazy cat.
If I were to guess the rat population on the Island, my number would be around 3-5 million.
I can think of a handful of reasons why soap is a great bait for rats. One of them being that the traps smell nice. Auckland Council provides free traps for (whoever walks in and asks for one), and at this stage I’ve got two.
While the rats that I catch are from the same species and pretty much the same size, the way they are caught in these traps is most of the times different. I feel for them a bit, this form of trapping is certainly not animal friendly. Often they are caught but not killed. The easiest way to deal with them is by submerging the entire trap into water.
I won’t dwell on it, but there are some interesting observations to be made when drowning rats. I can confirm that drowning is a peaceful way to go.
I’ve written about the advantages of using worms to make compost, but I will certainly get a lot more compost from all the rats I’ve been trapping.
This totally enclosed compost bin is dug into the ground and has a lid. I throw fish bones, rats and similar organic matter into it, and every now and then when it is full of maggots and the smell becomes nasty, I add a layer of grass clippings. Hundreds of rats have been composted this way.
Unfortunately, the positioning of this compost bin was never well thought through, it should have been right in my garden beds. I’ll reposition it before spring and fill the whole up with some dirt. Then plant pumpkins and watermelon right on top of it.
Finally, I am reminded of my chemistry teacher who always said that people read statistics of test results but never the procedures. For instance, if you do not test for heavy metals in a creek, you certainly won’t find any of it in your results and people will therefore conclude that no heavy metals are in the creek.
I say it is the same for rats. You’ll only get an idea of how many live with you when you start trapping them. Most of them will not endeavour to coming into your dwelling, there is so much to eat outside anyway. Like, for instance, soap…