The last few weeks have seen a huge increase in calls for rat control in the Newbury area. Several factors are contributing to this increase, but the most common issues are the weather and bird tables.
Like many other people, I enjoy feeding the birds, however there is a right and a wrong way to do this.
Firstly, never throw out bread for the birds on the ground, or for that matter on a bird table. Rats are very clever and soon get to know when you are likely to do this, and basically are sitting in wait for you to appear. Most calls we get are from people who regularly see very bold rats sat on patios or on bird tables during the day…well this is why.
Nuts and seed feeders are also a major problem. The birds peck out the seeds and nuts which fall to the floor uneaten, giving the rats a ready supply of seeds. Birds seldom get a chance to clear up the fallen seeds.
Bird tables are almost useless as a way of keeping rats away from the bird food. They are designed to prevent rats getting on them but rest assured, the rats have worked it out and will almost certainly get on the table with little effort.
The best way to ensure the birds get the food and not the rats is to use fat balls. These can be bought from places like Scats or Homebase etc. it’s no good just hanging them from a tree branch as the rats will get them, so you need to suspend them from a washing line, strong fishing line or similar. Do not use normal rope, and make sure the anchor points are not accessible to rats.
This way, the birds get there much needed food source, and the rats get nothing.
One other common issue is people who have chickens. Rats will always go to chicken houses and runs as food is always available to them. The first precaution to take is to be vigilant and watch for rat activity. If you see signs of any rodent activity, act quickly. It is vital you do not let them get a foothold or you will have an expensive and persistent issue to deal with.
Anybody with chickens in the neighbourhood will be blamed for any rat activity, so you need to be whiter than white in dealing with any issues. Firstly, remove all food hoppers. Feed the chickens by hand, giving them enough so all is cleared up and no food is left behind. Feed them in the morning and stay with them until they have eaten it all. This will stop the rats competing with the chickens for food. If you have a chicken house, make sure there are no holes in and under it. The key to keeping rats away is to remove food sources and remove habitat.
If the problem persists, then call in your local pest control expert, Rapid Pest Control, who will deal with your rat control problem quickly and safely. Whilst you can buy poisons etc off the shelf, it just is not worth it. Chances are you do not know what you are doing and you are putting yourself, your family and your pets at risk – so why take such a chance.
As a note, we have chickens, geese, ducks, guinea fowl and turkeys….and we never have a rat problem just by following the guidelines above … so it’s not the birds that attract rats it’s the people who feed them!