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RATS!

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  • #13116

    Good morning. Some of you may remember my delight, when a few months ago, I discovered a hedgehog visiting my garden right at the time I started my chemotherapy. Subsequently, ‘Mum’ hedgehog had two gorgeous hoglets who fed with her until they made their own way in the wilderness, but Mum still visits every night. I feed her with dry kitten food and fresh water.

    Recently, I noticed noisy activity right next to an air vent in my house wall. My garden is small, urban, maintained but with one side overgrown with ivy, etc, purposely left ‘wild’ so that the hedgehog has plenty of ground cover. There is an old wooden box next to the vent under which I have heard noisy activity…scrabbling sounds and, last night, squeaking. I didn’t investigate under the box just in case Mum hedgehog had had new babies as, if this was so, I didn’t want to disturb them. There’s a watering hose and other ephemera piled on top of the box…it’s not easily accessible.

    To my horror, this morning, I watched the ivy ‘move’ and a large RAT dropped down onto the ground. Yes, alas, it seems I have unwelcome vermin visitors!

    So now I have a predicament. I should call the local authority about the rat and, what I suspect may be a nest right next to my house. I also found the air vent cover pushed through into my house. Will they just put rat poison down regardless of the hedgehog? What is also very important is that I am still immunocompromised and cannot take any chances with infection or disease. This is highly dangerous to me as my immune system is weak so is of utmost importance.

    The house two doors down has had extensive building work over the last months and a couple of hundred meters away there is a canal.

    I truly want to keep caring for the hedgehog but I have to keep myself safe and need to be rid of the rats as soon as possible. What should I do? Stop putting food down and allow the local authority to put rat poison down?

    This is so upsetting. This wonderful hedgehog has kept me company throughout my treatment.

    #13117

    Nic

    Hi Phoenix 15

    So sorry to hear you have a rat there. The last thing you need. I have to say, though, that if you live near a canal, there are probably always rats around, just not quite so near your house.

    If the air vent cover has been pushed in, does that mean the rat could access the house. In that case, I don’t see that you have any choice but to get some pest control people in. Hopefully the hoglets will be big enough that they can’t get into a proper bait box. If you warn the pest control people, they should be able to take steps to avoid killing a hedgehog – and they should always do that, although I fear not all do. But you also need to make sure they know you are immunocompromised just in case any poison they used could effect you.

    There are ways that you can deter the rats, i.e. fill in any bolt holes etc. (And it may just be a bolt hole. A rat here excavated three quarters of a large bucket (the type they use for horses) for a bolt hole.) But you probably don’t want to get involved in that sort of thing at the moment – but maybe you could get someone to fill in the hole for you. What I did with mine was pour water down first and no rat appeared – luckily – so I knew it was safe to fill in. But you then need to cover the area with something the rat can’t dig through. I used bricks but sunk into the ground so the rat couldn’t move them. But rats do seem to like digging holes behind things, so under the box would have been an ideal location (fairly well hidden). So make sure anything like that is moved away from the house. There are likely other rats around.

    I have always felt that it was the bird food, which was initially attracting any rats I’ve ever seen here, and an important first step to take is to make sure that the rat can’t get at that. Or that the birds don’t drop any seed on the ground. I took my hanging feeder down and attached it to large tray (big enough that none of the seed went over the edge – not the normal bird feeder trays, which aren’t big enough) and put it on top of some metal staging. Once a rat managed to get up, so I greased the legs to make them slippery! Some rats are more persistent than others! But they tend to not like being in the open so much. But if a rat persisted you might need to stop feeding birds for a while – that is, if you do. But you may feel you need to deal with it more quickly than that.

    It’s difficult to know what to do about the hedgehog, because it’s likely there isn’t so much wild food around at the moment. The pest control people would probably tell you to stop feeding her. But, rightly or wrongly, my feeling is that if you stop feeding her in her normal place, she would be more likely to be desperate for food and find any poison. But that is a difficult choice to make, knowing how inquisitive hogs are. An adult hog, though shouldn’t be able to get into a bait box, as long as nothing was able to tip the contents out. It’s unfortunate that she hasn’t already hibernated.

    They may suggest traps, and in that case you need to make sure they are very meticulous about ensuring the hedgehog couldn’t access them. They are better climbers than many people give them credit for and can actually squeeze through quite small spaces. Inside a building which a hog couldn’t access might be the safest place.

    In the circumstances, I think it might be a good idea if you rang BHPS (01584 890801) tomorrow, and actually spoke to someone – it is so much easier if you know all the circumstances, can answer questions, etc. – and they might be able to give you some advice.

    Good luck. Let us know how you get on.

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