An update from the War on Rats

I cut back the vegetation around my home, as it had grown up too high over the wild rainy season and hot summer. Rats had taken over the brush and ivy. My landscaping left them nowhere to go. Nowhere but my woodshed…

A few weeks ago I shared that my multi-species enclave of peacefully cohabitating earth creatures was feeling the pressure of an invading force. Rats, finding their home suddenly defoliated and uncomfortably exposed to hawks, owls and coyote thought they'd fare better against the dogs, cats and humans of Team Weisberger.

At first I did not think there was a problem. Nemo, a 120 lb Great Pyrenees with a penchant for barking at things, would bark at them and run up and down our deck chasing them away. Then I saw one awfully close to my BBQ, while I was cooking on said BBQ. Eventually, I noticed my woodshed had been filled with a rats nest of detritus. I thought that was weird, then I realized it was the rats. Time to take action.

As I detailed in the prior post, I started setting traps. Old fashioned Victor snap traps. At first 2 traps a night were getting rats, every other night or so. So I upped our game to 4 traps set out at a time. Surprisingly, I got 4 rats. I set 4 more traps. I got 3 rats and a puddle of blood! In the first few weeks of setting traps we killed around 16 rats near the woodshed. I increased the load to 6 set traps.

Of the 6 traps I set out that night, four were set off and stripped clean of their bait. Two were untouched. I reset the cleaned traps without rebaiting them, and just left them there. Nothing much happened. Then I noticed some rat droppings on exterior stairs on the other side of our house. I set a trap over there as well.

The legacy traps sat for a few more days untouched. The new trap, however, was set off. It was also dragged down the hillside and cleaned to a polish of all peanut butter bait. While the legacy traps sat, and sat, the new trap was stripped every night. I decided to set two traps, hoping that while the rat was cleaning one, it might trip the other. The rat cleaned out both. I tried bending the bait tray/trigger on the traps to make them easier to set off. I nearly lost a finger. Rat or rats cleaned out both. I set a third trap.

I got used to hearing the traps snap at night. If it snaps, and you hear it, you didn't get a rat. After 5 or 6 luckless nights, I felt like the tide was turning against me. I had beaten back the massive push and infestation in my woodshed, but these remaining guys were getting more difficult to eliminate. Folks have warned me the snap traps would start to fail eventually. Electronic traps have been recommended. Repellant as well. I didn't want to give up on the ol' snap trap.

Last night I heard a trap snap. Nemo and I went to check and one of the three traps around the front of the house had been triggered but there was no corpse. This morning, however, a second trap in this location contained a large and very dead rat. Seems three, and getting the rats used to carelessly eating the bait, helps. There was also a dead rat caught in the not-rebaited set of 6 by the woodshed. Two down this week. I do think garbage night plays a role in activity.

Most curiously, one of the 6 traps set near the woodshed is missing. Not dragged off a few feet. No puddle of blood. It is sort of like the rats decided to take the offending tool back to their nest and check it out, figure out ways around it?

I'm pretty sure that as long as we have ivy, woods and garbage set out on Tuesdays for collection, we will have rats. I'm still feeling good about snap traps, but if I notice signs of vermin around and am not catching any I will have to change things up.

I tried to befriend a rodent once. It let me down.