Rat problems

Common Rat, by John Harding.

The Common Rat is a widespread and familiar species, particularly in rural areas where they may been seen after harvest running across roads or entering gardens. This adaptable species will soon exploit new feeding opportunities, such as garden feeding stations, so it is important to consider how to reduce the attractiveness of your garden, should you wish to avoid their attention.

The first thing to say about rats is do not panic. There are ways of feeding the birds that minimise the attractiveness of your garden to rats, and you will only need to cease feeding if things are particularly bad. We know that rats are more welcome in some gardens than others.

The following suggestions should help:

1.            Do not feed on the ground; restrict your feeding to hanging feeders and bird tables.

2.            Ensure that the pole supporting your bird table is fitted with a squirrel/rat guard to prevent the rats from reaching the table. These are available from a number of birdfood and feeding companies, and are easily fitted.

3.            Attach hanging feeders to brackets attached to walls and fences, rather than hang them from trees. Again, try fitting squirrel/rat guards above the feeders.

4.            Put food out that leaves minimal waste, i.e. peanut granules, sunflower hearts.

5.            Clear the bird table at night and put out fresh food in the morning.

6.            Reduce the quantity of food that you provide, so that it matches the number of birds coming in to feed.

7.            Do not leave piles of rubbish lying about in the garden. Try and keep things tidy.

If all else fails, please contact your local council environmental health officer who should be able to give advice.

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