Yesterday was one of those days when I just had to put aside all the things I really wanted to get done, and do an emergency tidy of the feed room.  My feed room is what I can “rat-resistant” but occasionally they do get in there.  We had become aware that a couple of rats had found a way in when we found two youngsters in the bottom of a nearly empty feed bin.

Now, we have two cats! For some stupid reason I thought that they would relish the thought of teenage rat for breakfast, so I called them into the feed room and started to tip the bin over so that they would realise the rats were in there.  As I tipped, the rat started jumping to try to jump out of the bin and was making a perfect scratching noise on the side of the bin.

Blotchy heard the scratching and pricked up her ears – it obviously sounded like breakfast.  I waited till I was sure she was locked on to the contents of the bin, and then tipped the bin further so that she could see her quarry.  She pricked up her ears, craned her head to see better, and………

…………..RAN AWAY!

Yes, the cat saw a half grown rat and ran.  The rats lived to chew another feed sack and Blotchy is in disgrace.  In her defence, she is not the first cat I have had who won’t hunt rats – I don’t know if she has been bitten at some point or whether she just thinks they are too much of an adversary.  Splat the baby did at least try, but wasn’t quick enough.

But it brought to my attention the fact that we did have rats in the feed room again.  There are a million and one reasons why this is not good  – disease spread, food waste, the fact that I don’t want one running up my trouser leg in the dark.  So it was time to sort them out.

I have sacks of chaff stacked  on the feed room bench and I never have to worry too much about them as the rats don’t seem to eat chaff.  But there had been a bit pulled out of the sacks so I moved them to sweep up and couldn’t believe what I found.  The rats had chewed open three sacks of chaff from the back where it isn’t visible and spread the contents everywhere!

They had crammed the chaff into every nook and cranny they could find.  There are a set of shelves on the end of the bench which the sacks were in front of – they had filled the bottom two shelves with chaff.  Not a little bit scattered around  – the shelves were packed so tight that I had to get a stick to poke in and loosen it before I could get the chaff out.  They had filled all the gaps behind the shelf units and behind the cupboards at the other end of the bench.  The really odd thing was that none of this was visible from the front until I started moving the sacks.

I had to take the entire feed room apart to sweep it all out and tidy up.  Lesson learnt – I won’t be storing food on the bench again – at least if they break open a bag on the floor I just have to sweep the floor!  I moved a pallet into the feed room to store the spare sacks on, and scattered rat bait blocks liberally underneath.  I have to be very cautious about using bait because of the cats, but I have found in the past that putting the bait under a pallet seems to work and the rats find the bait on the way to the food.  Then it was just a question of restacking all the sacks, and rearranging the room around the pallet.  Less floor space now, but I do have my bench back 🙂

 

I ran out of time at this point, but today’s job will be to try to close up the holes they have made to get in through.

 

I keep wondering though what made the rats do this.  I know they are destructive etc etc.  but this wasn’t just scattering it randomly, this was purposeful “stuffing” of every nook and cranny.  The apprentice suggested that maybe they are pretending to be squirrels. Now, this wouldn’t surprise me as none of my animals knows how to behave as what they are (in the past I have had pigs that want to be dogs, goats that want to be ponies, ponies that want to be dogs, you name it) so I suppose that rats that want to be squirrels isn’t too much of a stretch.  On the other hand, the apprentice’s suggestion made me think.  The stuffing of noooks and crannies looked like “extreme nesting” – sort of insulating.  I wonder if they know something about the coming winter that we don’t.  It will be interesting to look back on this post in February and see if the rats were predicting a cold winter.

What do you think?  Cold winter? Or just crazy rats?

 

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