The thought of having rats scratching away at a property is normally enough to keep any resident awake at night. Fortunately, it is often the case that most domestic rat problems in the UK occur outside, in gardens and green areas. By and large, bird feeding, compost heaps and animal droppings are the main causes of garden-based rat problems.
Identifying a garden-based rat problem
Upon observing a rat in their garden, a resident should endeavour to work out where it may have come from. In essence, this means looking around the garden to see if there are any burrows and runs present. Burrows normally look like small rabbit holes. Whilst most rats will normally dig burrows in earth or in compost heaps, some will happily make use of areas under sheds or inside garden buildings. Rat runs are essentially beaten tracks which rats use to continually travel to and from a food source or cover area. These runs are relatively easy to spot as nothing grows within them (this is because the rats continually urinate in them to keep vegetation away and maintain a scent to follow when travelling in the dark.
Baiting or trapping?
It is often the case that laying down rat poison in bait form is the best way to deal with an outdoor rat problem. Needless to say, the important thing to consider before doing this is where to place the bait as it is vital other animals, i.e. neighbours’ cats, will not be harmed. The most straightforward option is to put rat bait in a proper bait station, as these are designed to allow rats in to feed while preventing other animals like hedgehogs and cats from gaining access to the ‘food’. Individuals who are looking to deal with their garden-based rat problem in this way have a duty to inform their neighbours of their plans and reassure them that they will be using conventional bait stations to achieve their aims. Whilst some people may be tempted to use conventional rat traps instead of bait, this should not be encouraged as birds and other mammals may well be harmed in a garden environment.
How to use bait stations
Bait stations should ideally be placed adjacent to rat runs or against fences and sheds. When baiting for rats, it is important to maintain bait in the bait stations at all times, otherwise the rats may not digest enough poison to cause their demise. Residents need to check their bait stations daily and refill continually for the first seven days. After the first week, rat activity should be significantly reduced so residents will probably need only to check their bait stations every other day or so. Once it is evident all garden-based rat activity is at an end, residents should remove the bait stations (as well as any leftover rat killer) from their gardens and store them away somewhere safe, just in case they may need to use them again at a later date.
About the author – Bo Heamyan blogs regularly about domestic health issues, and has written extensively about the benefits of using high quality pest control solutions for a number of industry leading websites, including PestControlSupermarket.com.