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(31 Posts)
zaffa Fri 18-Oct-19 14:54:25

I have seen a rat in the garden. The cats alerted me to it, not by chasing it away out of the garden or even by generally deterring it from being there in the first place, but by prancing around like Morris dancers in a circle.

They managed to chase it under the shed, which is so far from ideal as I can't track it, see how big it is or check whether it actually is part of a whole family of rats that live in the garden unbeknownst to me.

I'm not at all happy, but not sure how much of an issue the rat is. Could the rat live here? The garden is a bit overgrown with weeds in the beds, but we are in the process of getting it cleared out. We don't have any food or wood piles or anything about, although there is a pear tree that has a few pears that weren't eaten and may have rotted away. The neighbors have apple trees and I have found apples in the garden before (which made no sense as the branches don't overhang but I didn't dwell on it too much). Now I'm wondering if super rat has carried them over the fence ...

Only moved in in January so no knowledge of rat history. Live within walking distance of the local lakes but still live in a small town so not rural. Garden is much bigger than anything we have dealt with previously but doesn't count as particularly large. Less than 50 meters long.

We had already blocked up any gaps in the fence (but not very effectively as cats can't get out but found a hedgehog a few months ago had gotten in) but we don't leave food out etc. also neighbors who have much overgrown garden waste have piled it up against back corner of fence and caused panel to collapse against our shed - on our list to address this before next summer but it's blocked off so didn't concern ourselves as cats can't get down side of shed to escape.

I don't want to poison the rat, I am displeased but it's not really it's fault and I've heard awful things about how poison kills them. There had also been a mouse siting (cat actually killed mouse which was a huge surprise) so clearly garden attracts vermin somehow but I have heard that it is fairly usual to have mice in a larger garden. Wasn't thrilled but only ever saw one and again I don't want to poison anything and couldn't see how to deter them.

Does anyone have any advice or happy ending stories following a rat siting?

madcatladyforever Fri 18-Oct-19 14:57:26

I lived in a very rural area and there were rats but I was never overrun with them so I just ignored them. They are fine. All part of nature.

7Worfs Fri 18-Oct-19 15:01:07

Our council is very hot on rats. They can help investigate to locate the nests, but then you have to pay for extermination privately.
It’s a H&S matter, as they carry diseases.

puppyconfetti Fri 18-Oct-19 15:03:51

Rats live everywhere.

INeedNewShoes Fri 18-Oct-19 15:05:26

We had a rat visiting the garden for a few months. Haven't seen him in a while. I decided to ignore him as he only ever seemed to be passing through my garden between neighbours' gardens.

I really don't like the idea of killing an animal unless it is going to really cause me problems (and even then I'm reluctant and would worry about poison being ingested by hedgehogs or birds).

zaffa Fri 18-Oct-19 15:14:09

@INeedNewShoes I agree, but now I'm concerned about talk of a nest of them!

If there is a nest I'm fairly certain it's not in my garden, do the council have to gain access to all the neighboring gardens?

If I ignore it, is it likely to become emboldened and try to gain access to my house? I'm having a baby in a couple of months and don't want to worry about the cats somehow catching and spreading this rat disease about.

I'm also very surprised that the cats aren't more of a deterrent, although they aren't hunters really so perhaps the rat isn't scared of them?

ListeningQuietly Fri 18-Oct-19 15:17:38

Rats live everywhere there is food.
Every city and town and farm in the country has them.
It would only come near your house if you dumped things it could eat near your house.
Live and let live.

RogersVideo Fri 18-Oct-19 15:22:12

You have wildlife in your garden. Not sure why you're making a meal of this if they aren't bothering you.

zaffa Fri 18-Oct-19 15:32:18

Thanks - I am slightly reassured by the rat presence based on some of the advice : experiences you have had. I'd prefer to deter them from coming into the garden at all so any advice would be appreciated. I hear mint is good but I have quite a lot of mint growing already. Bins are out the front on the drive and don't overflow so no food is really anywhere around the property.

To answer those of you accusing me of making a meal of this (esp @RogersVideo) - a simple google keeps telling me all the excessive health concerns rats bring. It seems the rodent extermination business is booming, so evidently a lot of people are concerned about the effects of rats on their property, and consider their presence to be bothersome.

I didn't want to be one of those people who put down poison or had them killed without exploring alternatives, so I came here to see if there was a safe way to deter them, based on other people's experiences. That seemed a much better idea to me than immediately taking action that may not be necessary. I guess if that's how you treat any visitors to this board, who come for advice and to look for alternatives, by making them feel stupid or over reacting about something that evidently won't bother you - then it's hardly surprising so many people are turning to exterminators before taking advice and finding ways to naturally deter them.

RogersVideo Fri 18-Oct-19 15:52:56

You are overreacting, and no, I'm not responsible for the "booming extermination business." Jesus Christ. Rats can sometimes cause problems (they used to chew through our garage walls when I was a kid) but you have seen one rat and don't live in Victorian England so you'll probably be ok.

IfNot Fri 18-Oct-19 16:01:16

I had a rat in my garden once when the road was being dug up. I freaked the freak out and set next doors massive Tom cat on it. Good old Tom did the job.
I don't care what anyone says, you don't want them near the house.
I would get the exterminator to come and see if there's a nest. If there's a nest you want it gone. I don't count sewer rats as wildlife.
Also, when someone has a reasonable question about something they have never dealt with before why do some other people have to be so sneery? What satisfaction you could gain from that I really don't know!

zaffa Fri 18-Oct-19 16:04:04

@RogersVideo tell me, what are you hoping to achieve here? Making me feel stupid for asking for advice? Shaming me for having concerns? Discouraging me from consulting an Internet forum on a subject I know very little about and googling just heightened my worries?

zaffa Fri 18-Oct-19 16:07:59

Thanks @IfNot - I'm going to keep an eye out and if the rat reappears or any other rat signs show up then I will consult the exterminator - at least for an evaluation. If we have a nest you're right, I can't take the risk with two cats and two children who use our garden regularly.

If there's one rat I can probably reconcile with it passing through, if we have a rat nest then that's a different matter.

7Worfs Fri 18-Oct-19 16:11:03

Inform your council, OP. They will check for sightings with your neighbours too.
There should be some H&S Advisor or similar.

slipperywhensparticus Fri 18-Oct-19 16:11:15

Its probably living in the waste pile and under your shed if you dont want to poison use snap traps

Twirlypoos Fri 18-Oct-19 16:11:49

Can’t you just use snap traps? There’s never going to be only one. Otherwise I’d imaging they won’t last long if you have cats anyway

Drum2018 Fri 18-Oct-19 16:13:51

Our neighbour reported rat sitings to the council. We all got a letter about being vigilant about food waste etc. She was the stupid bitch leaving food out for birds and she lives right alongside the river. She also kept putting traps out. What the frig did she expect would happen?! Rats are everywhere. You just don't see them too often. We have cats who regularly leave mice and the odd rat on the lawn for us. I wouldn't worry much if I were you unless you see a whole load of them sitting around your garden to watch the cats perform their Morris dancing grin

Drum2018 Fri 18-Oct-19 16:15:58

Also if you poison them and the cats do decide to have a feast with them then you could damage the cats too.

Frangipane Fri 18-Oct-19 16:20:38

I agree with a previous poster: rats are everywhere. It is probably only because of your cats that you have been alerted to the problem. I certainly was only alerted to our ratty neighbours this summer when one of my cats started bringing them (dead) into our house. If their presence worries you, have stern words with your cats and tell them they need to start earning their Dreamies (sorry, not much use, I know).

HMArsey Fri 18-Oct-19 16:23:56

My house adjoins a country road, and I've seen the occasional rat out there but never in our garden. I don't think seeing one automatically means they are nesting in the immediate vicinity.

zaffa Fri 18-Oct-19 16:29:49

Thanks all. I'm very against poisoning, if I have to deal with them I'd prefer it to be a humane way.

I'll keep watching, if not seen one before and I would be willing to bet they've come from a neighbor (cats spend ages watching the neighbors garden through the small fence gaps like peeping toms) and will start looking out for other signs.

Fingers crossed this is a one off but I suppose I will have no choice but to call someone out to evaluate if there are more signs. Appreciate everyone's help!

Dinosauratemydaffodils Fri 18-Oct-19 16:30:08

My inlaws have them in kitchen garden as they come for fallen apples etc. FiL shoots them periodically from the window.

If you have a bird table make sure it's one rodents can't climb and get a pest control person to check under the shed.

puppyconfetti Fri 18-Oct-19 17:03:00

OP it won't be a one off. Just because you don't see rats doesn't mean they are not there. They literally live beside us. Calling someone out will be money wasted. There will be more rats.

Fatshedra Fri 18-Oct-19 17:34:35

They're intelligent and I don't think a rat would make a nest where there are cats as obviously they can kill the young.
What you could do is clear all the long grass etc. Someone could come in with a strimmer and do that. Rats aren't going to run around in full view, much more likely to be hidden or run along the edge of fences. Neighbours pile of garden waste next to the fence isn't good. Another hiding place.
Rats can climb onto bird tables with the flat top or house type top. We have seen them they are incredible agile. And the bird feed attracted them into our garden.
They could easily come from the lakes. But if your garden has cats and is food free then I doubt they'll bother you again. Unfortunately if a neighbour is putting out feed then they might pass through your garden but they aren't stupid and won't come in if there's no reason to.

ListeningQuietly Fri 18-Oct-19 17:36:54

I've had rats in my garden for years
they are not a problem, their numbers are limited by the availability of food
I give them space, they give me space
cats kill most of the juveniles
I really do not see what the fuss is about

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