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Rat issues

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  • #21154

    I’ve been feeding hedgehogs in my garden for several years and only saw a rat once last year which didn’t stay for long.
    This year there seems to be a very tenacious rat who’s made a nest under my shed and is eating all the hog food even when I tried wet cat food.
    I’ve stopped feeding the hogs over the last couple of nights in the hope of catching the rat in a humane trap but he’s not having any of it and I’m worried the hogs are going hungry.
    I’m planning on removing the nest under the shed but am worried the rat(s) will relocate to the many hog houses in the garden.
    I’ve read that cotton wool soaked with eucalyptus or peppermint oil can deter rodents and was thinking of putting this in the entrance to the hog boxes but would it deter the hogs too?
    Anyone have any other ideas?

    #21156
    Nic
    Nic

    Hi madfoxlady

    I have just written this previously with some links in it, but it disappeared. It may reappear at some stage, so apologies if there is repetition.

    Unfortunately, rats seem to be a perennial problem. Just be aware that hogs have been caught in humane rat traps. Probably the best thing I can do is direct you to other exchanges about rats, where you might find something which helps.

    It may be the links, which the Forum doesn’t like at the moment, but I’ll try to give you a link which contains other links about rats – it might accept one:

    Rat probelm

    I’m not sure about the eucalyptus and peppermint oil. It might deter the hogs, as they rely on their sense of smell a lot, but I don’t recall anyone saying whether they worked or not. Although I think someone did mention mint plants.

    Good luck. Hope you find something which works.

    #21163

    Hi. Thanks for the tips. I’ve taken the humane trap away and as I’m not feeding the hogs I’m really hoping the rat will go away again…

    #21164
    Nic
    Nic

    Hi madfoxlady

    If you have been feeding the hogs through the winter, I’m worried that if you suddenly stop there isn’t much wild food around at this time of year. Are there definitely some hogs still around, there? Do you know what time the hogs arrive for the food – i.e. do you have a camera? Is there any chance that you could ‘supervise’ at least some feeding time, so that if there are still any hogs around, they get a chance of some food.

    I realise that leaving out food all night probably isn’t going to work, as the rat will probably eat it, but I have found here – mostly with cats eating the food – that the hogs tend to turn up earlier if they have found the bowls empty, so you may be able to have an earlier supervised feed. I have found, in the past, that rats are more sensitive to noise, movement etc. than the hogs are, so that it’s often possible to scare them away without scaring the hogs.

    Make sure that the hogs always have access to water, even if you aren’t feeding.

    Good luck.

    #21170

    I have been feeding hedgehogs for some years. I have had as many as eight coming to my feeders. At the end of the season one remained, and took up residence in a nest which I made in my shed. He access this through a hole in the wall , and spent his days sleeping ,and nights foraging after food from the feeder. He occasionally failed to return during the day but after a couple of days generally turned up. The other day he was not in the nest up until 1 pm when he came back pursued by a rat. He tried to get into his bedding, but the rat attacked him and tried to drag him back by his spines, trying to bite him at the same time. This went on for over 20 minutes with a rat constantly trying to turn him over to access his underbelly. The hedgehog turned and attempted to push the rat back through the hole in the wall, and all the time the rat was attempting to bite his underside. At this point they went out of camera shot and all I could see was the back of the hedgehog. I assumed he had pushed the rat out of the hole and was resting after the struggle. When I checked the next day I found him dead. He had become trapped in the hole, probably after erecting his spines to stop the rat from biting him from outside the hole. He presented the rats with an easy target, he must’ve suffered a horrible death. He was such a beautiful creature, and I’m sure he would have fathered some really good hoglets in the spring
    I have several nest boxes around my garden, but I’m now concerned that they will trap the occupant inside and unable vermin to attack them with no means of escape. With a natural nest in the open this is presumably not an issue at least they have a chance to get away.
    I would appreciate anybody’s opinion on this, as I really don’t know what to do for the best.

    Many thanks

    #21171

    I appreciate there are many animal lovers on this site who do not discriminate between species. Personally, I have no issue with dealing with rats in any way possible. To that effect I put out bait boxes which are located reasonably near to the Hog feeding stations. However, I make sure they are located in such a place that Hogs would not be able to reach them. So for instance I have a pile of roof tiles next to one of the Hogs feeding stations. I then place the bait box on top of the tiles which would be around 20-24″ in height. Rats can easily reach the box but the Hogs do not. I know from checking the box that it has been visited and the rat has not been seen for some time. I am sure they will return at some point but also believe the poison works to keep the number to a minimum. Not everyone’s solution, but for me it works.

    #21174
    Nic
    Nic

    Hi RayGod

    That is a very sad story and must have been very distressing to witness.

    Normally hedgehogs natural protection of raising their spines would provide sufficient protection against a rat, which makes me wonder whether the hedgehog was already unwell – They can sometimes look reasonably well, seemingly eat normally, etc., when they aren’t. All those spines can cover up a multitude of things.

    With regard to hog boxes, I can completely see your point. I have sometimes wondered about the potential problems of being trapped in a box, not only by rats. But likewise, if there were other entrances/exits, a hog could find itself having to defend both entrances. i.e. they could roll up and defend one entrance, but not two at once. In some ways hog boxes are not ideal, but better than nothing, bearing in mind the lack of suitable habitat in which to build a natural nest.

    But hogs are at risk from predators in natural nests as well, particulary if they are asleep or hibernating. Also natural nests (hibernation nests, in particular) are pretty substantial consructions, with vegetation woven and layered together, so that it may not be possible, (at the least possibly not easy) even with a natural nest for a hog to escape by another way. But with one entrance they can at least have their spines against the entrance, affording some protection.

    Having said that, I only recall one previous instance on the Forum of reports of a rat attacking/eating a hog and that was a hog which had been hibernating, which may alreay have been dead. Balance that with the probably thousands of hog houses which are occupied without incident.

    So I would suggest keeping the hog houses, for now, but to improve the habitat in your garden (and encourage others nearby to do likewise) – maybe plant some, or more hedges, so that the hogs have the opportunity to build nests within the hedges.

    You might like, at the same time, to take steps to deter rats from the area. Personally I wouldn’t want to use rat bait, even though rats are probably my least favourite animal. I know what a distressingly horrible death that can also cause. So that I prefer to go down the deterrant route. But if you did decide to go down the bait route, I suspect that hoglets could get into those bait boxes, so it may be best not to use them when they are around. Also hogs can be much better at climbing than people give them credit for, so that I would suggest that putting any kind of bait as low as 2 feet is not adequate to safely prevent a hog from becoming poisoned.

    Good luck with the rest of the hogs. I hope they all return safely from hibernation.

    #21175
    Nic
    Nic

    Hi RayGod

    That is a very sad story and must have been very distressing to witness.

    Normally hedgehogs natural protection of raising their spines would provide sufficient protection against a rat, which makes me wonder whether the hedgehog was already unwell – They can sometimes look reasonably well, seemingly eat normally, etc., when they aren’t. All those spines can cover up a multitude of things.

    With regard to hog boxes, I can completely see your point. I have sometimes wondered about the potential problems of being trapped in a box, not only by rats. But likewise, if there were other entrances/exits, a hog could find itself having to defend both entrances. i.e. they could roll up and defend one entrance, but not two at once. In some ways hog boxes are not ideal, but better than nothing, bearing in mind the lack of suitable habitat in which to build a natural nest.

    But hogs are at risk from predators in natural nests as well, particulary if they are asleep or hibernating. Also natural nests (hibernation nests, in particular) are pretty substantial consructions, with vegetation woven and layered together, so that it may not be possible, (at the least possibly not easy) even with a natural nest for a hog to escape by another way. But with one entrance they can at least have their spines against the entrance, affording some protection.

    Having said that, I only recall one previous instance on the Forum of reports of a rat attacking/eating a hog and that was a hog which had been hibernating, which may alreay have been dead. Balance that with the probably thousands of hog houses which are occupied without incident.

    So I would suggest keeping the hog houses, for now, but to improve the habitat in your garden (and encourage others nearby to do likewise) – maybe plant some, or more hedges, so that the hogs have the opportunity to build nests within the hedges.

    You might like, at the same time, to take steps to deter rats from the area. Personally I wouldn’t want to use rat bait, even though rats are probably my least favourite animal. I know what a distressingly horrible death that can also cause. So that I prefer to go down the deterrant route. But if you did decide to go down the bait route, I suspect that hoglets could get into those bait boxes, so it may be best not to use them when they are around. Also hogs can be much better at climbing than people give them credit for, so that I would suggest that putting any kind of bait as low as 2 feet is not adequate to safely prevent a hog from becoming poisoned.

    Good luck with the rest of the hogs. I hope they all return safely from hibernation.

    P.S. Apologies if this appears twice. I made the mistake of editing it slightly, which the Forum doesn’t always like at the moment, so the original might eventually appear as well!

    #21226

    I’m happy to update that ratty has decided to leave the garden for now 🙂 I did stop feeding the hogs for about a week but this year there are loads of worms and invertebrates around in my wildlife friendly garden due to the mild winter. It was hard watching footage of the hogs search the feeding areas in the early hours though. I wouldn’t have stopped if it had been cold as a couple of hogs are out all year.

    I also moved all the feeding stations around and dismantled some, leaving their components randomly dotted about.

    Then I removed what I could of the rat’s nest from under the shed, finding it had also been feasting on the frogs from the pond 🙁 That’s nature for you!

    Finally I sprinkled peppermint oil all the way around the bottom of the shed.

    No rat on the camera for the last 5 days 🙂 so hogs are being fed wet cat food for a while before I revert to their normal dried food.

    I’m also going to place random items near their nest boxes throughout the year just in case ratty comes back but despite having 5 boxes I’ve never come across a rat in any nor smelt that they had been present when I clean them out.

    In relation to people using bait – please consider that the rat will die a very painful death and you have no control of where it dies. A fox or someone’s pet could scavenge the body and die.

    #21227
    Nic
    Nic

    Hi madfoxlady

    Glad to hear that the rat has moved on. I’d be interested to know if the peppermint oil works.

    Really good that the hogs are back and eating your offerings.

    I’m not sure that putting random items around would deter the rats, but filling in bolt holes helps, I pour water down first just in case a rat is actually in there in the hope that it would come out (although they would be able to dig themselves back out).

    As mentioned previously, I’m not keen on rats, but having seen a poor rat half dead from poisoning, I would not wish that on any living thing. And, yes, that particular one ended up in my garden and I have no way of knowing where it was poisoned. I was able to dispose of the body, but, as you say, it could have ended up elsewhere and been eaten by another animal. For some reason people seem to think of rats being in some sort of a different category, as if they couldn’t feel pain and fear.

    #21155
    Nic
    Nic

    Hi madfoxlady

    Unfortunately, rats seem to be a perennial problem. Just be aware that hogs have been caught in humane rat traps. Probably the best thing I can do is direct you to other exchanges about rats, where you might find something which helps.

    Hedgehogs and rats

    rats?

    Rats!

    Rats

    Rat poison

    I’m not sure about the eucalyptus and peppermint oil. It might deter the hogs, as they rely on their sense of smell a lot, but I don’t recall anyone saying whether they worked or not. Although I think someone did mention mint plants.

    Good luck. Hope you find something which works.

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