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Urban gardeners- advice on rat control?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
We have a small garden in the back yard. This season we started off committed and excited about growing some of our own produce. We had a ton of fun prepping soil, planting seeds, watering and weeding (my daughter is two). When veggies started to grow, we went wild!

Then, we started finding the rats.

First, a dead one or two. Then, you could watch them run across our yard. It squicks me out- mice I'm ok with, rats not so much.

At first, I thought it was because of our compost bin, but there are no signs that they are interested in it- no scratching, no nibbled plastic, and its up off the ground, so they can't burrow up into it. Then I thought that the plants were attracting them, but I made my husband harvest ripe food every night. We kept weed piles cleaned up, made sure any deadfall was raked up.

They might be attracted by our neighbor's trash, but this is the first year that we've seen them, and the neighbor has had yucky trash for ages.

Anyway to keep them out of the garden? I'd love th plant again next year, but if I'm over run with rats, I'll have to pass- I don't want to have to deal with the board of health in addition to the rats.

I know there are tons of people who are successful urban farmers- how do you handle it?

Thanks!

Porenn
post #2 of 27
We did have a rat nest under our shed right next to our compost pile last year. I did have a lot of corn cobs and husks in there, but I think they were actually more interested in our grill. Did you or your one of your neighbors recently acquire an outdoor grill? Sometimes rats will crawl in the bottom and snack on whatever's fallen through the grate. (Yeah, I know, gag!)

If you don't think that's it, maybe try to figure out where they're nesting and encourage them to move on by removing nearby shrubs, wood piles, whatever cover they could use to travel to and from the nest concealed. Or, get cats.
post #3 of 27
We live off a main street in the city and there are lots of restaurant dumpsters in the alley adjacent to our yard. Long story short, we found a burrow in the back of our yard. My food garden is in the front of our yard and they are not interested in it. While it freaks me out, in the summer the vegetation seems to camouflage them so we only see them in winter.
The only thing we are doing for now is using poison! (it's not really working on the neighborhood population either..they may just be becoming immune) Not what I'd like to do but haven't found any other effective, long term solutions given the local environment. I have thought about turning their burrow into a rain garden but am not clear if that would increase it's attractiveness as a home? It would be layered with gravel, etc so maybe would keep them out...
If anybody finds some good, long term solutions, please do share!
post #4 of 27
I've had a lot of rats in my yard this year. We always have a few of course but this year was particularly bad. They are obviously a lot smarter than the traps too. The only thing that works for us are the cat and the dogs. The dogs have caught 3 of them but mostly they do a really good job keeping them out of the yard. Since yours are there because of restaurants I think the trick is to keep them out of your yard more than killing them since they reproduce so fast which is why I mention the dogs. Good luck!
post #5 of 27
Pets, owls, hawks will chow on them. Try to locate nests and destroy. Snap traps are what we have always used when they find their way into the house/sheds, but don't set traps outside, you'll kill all kinds of things.

Poisons are a problem for obvious reasons of killing non target organisms, but also a dying rat can enter your wall or crawl space and rot there- yuck yuck yuck!
post #6 of 27
Quote:
Try to locate nests and destroy
How do you "destroy"? This is what we'd like to do. We have no owls or hawks here, as we are in the middle of the city. I also keep the cat in as it is unsafe for him outside and for wild birds.
*knock on wood* the rats don't come near our house. The only other animals in our yard are birds; we don't even see many squirrels. They are also too smart for the snap trap. They get the peanut butter and run!
Believe me I would rather not use poison!! We have it tucked away and covered so it won't get rained on.
post #7 of 27
i don't know what it was, but i suspect some sort of rodent:

some midnight garden thief stole 90 per cent of my brocolli spinach and kohl rabi without even messing up the mulch.

sooooo...

i started mulching with branches from my palo brea . so far it's working.
post #8 of 27
We had rats several years ago (8, I think). We live in townhomes and our HOA contracts with a pest control company. They send a guy out to check things out and he asked me a bunch of questions, then recommended oatmeal in waxed paper packets. Rats apparently like oatmeal and will eat through the waxed paper to get it. Then, I guess it swells them up later (back at the nest) and they die.

This was before we were gardening and the pest control guy asked me a bunch of questions to determine if the nest was in our yard or shed or home first. The rat we saw was feasting on the grill leftovers. It was easy to get rid of him with the waxed paper oatmeal packets and we've not seen signs of any more since.
post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunnysandiegan View Post

We had rats several years ago (8, I think). We live in townhomes and our HOA contracts with a pest control company. They send a guy out to check things out and he asked me a bunch of questions, then recommended oatmeal in waxed paper packets. Rats apparently like oatmeal and will eat through the waxed paper to get it. Then, I guess it swells them up later (back at the nest) and they die.

This was before we were gardening and the pest control guy asked me a bunch of questions to determine if the nest was in our yard or shed or home first. The rat we saw was feasting on the grill leftovers. It was easy to get rid of him with the waxed paper oatmeal packets and we've not seen signs of any more since.



Really?  How interesting!

 

We're not urban, but have been experiencing a rat problem this year.  We're (carefully) poisoning with bait stations and once in a while we flood their burrows and stand and wait to shoot.  We did acquire 2 kittens to live in the chicken coop but they are very young still, so no help from them.

post #10 of 27

I like the snap traps like t rex. Had an issue one time with decomp smell in wall after  using poison in crawl space. I do keep some poison on hand for outside the crawl! I used traps under my car when mice nested in the engine.

post #11 of 27


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ContentMama View Post

Quote:
Try to locate nests and destroy
How do you "destroy"? This is what we'd like to do. We have no owls or hawks here, as we are in the middle of the city. I also keep the cat in as it is unsafe for him outside and for wild birds.
*knock on wood* the rats don't come near our house. The only other animals in our yard are birds; we don't even see many squirrels. They are also too smart for the snap trap. They get the peanut butter and run!
Believe me I would rather not use poison!! We have it tucked away and covered so it won't get rained on.

Just destroy them.  Scatter the food stores, the junk, the leaves and lint or whatever they've used to build it with.  Seal up their entries with chicken wire, make a cozy spot less cozy and exposed if you can.  If you find baby rats in them cervical seperation is the most humane way to kill them.  Head in one hand, body in the other, a quick sharp pull.  It sounds horrible but it's quick, and they can all grow up to be big rats.
 

post #12 of 27

I live old suburban, so dense and pretty city like. We don't have rats, but we have squrrels.... Cats are really the only thing I have found. Then you have to deal with cats. They LOVE to poo in  freshly raked soil. So annoying. There is someone in the city trying to get rid of an outside cat :) Most  cats are street smart if thats the life they have had, just feed them and give them a warm place to sleep and they will keep the birds/rats/etc away!

 

If you are seeing them, I would start shooting. BBs should do it, as I'm sure guns in the city would be funfunfun.

 

If you aren't seeing them, the oatmeal, or dry rice may work. I hate rats, my instinct would be to shoot. I would camp out with bait. Nasty scavengers.

post #13 of 27

We have rats too in an urban area.  They show up in the fall and take bites out of all the ripe tomatoes.  We have had them around for a few years now.  Our neighbor does not seem to mind them and he says he can hear them running around in his walls at night YUCK!  They have only come in our house once (even though we have a dog) and we chased him out.  We have tried traps and keeping things cleared out so they have no where to go but it is not an effective way of controlling.  Now we do poison--I know it's awful but I REALLY can't have rats in our yard and home...since they live in the neighbors house all I can do is try to keep the population down!  We usually put out the poison a couple of times in the fall when we have seen lots of them.  We always have to use different kinds of poisons because after the first time they seem to know that it's bad and stay away from it!  We did have one this year that must have crawled somewhere in the crawlspace and died because when we turned on our heater we got a hint of nastiness but it went away after a few days and it wasn't super strong.

 

I would love to hear more about the oatmeal/wax paper deal as well as dry rice!  I haven't heard of those before and would like it if someone could post instruction of how to do it.  That seems MUCH better than poison!

post #14 of 27

I made the oatmeal packets by using a piece of waxed paper and putting a scoop of oatmeal in the middle and wrapping up the ends or folding and tucking in the ends. Finished size was smaller than the palm of my hand, maybe half-to-two-thirds the size? We put them wherever we saw the rat droppings. We used a lot of them! LOL Many were dragged off; some you could see had been partially munched on; a few look like they hadn't been touched. We just left them. Eventually all were gone....both all the packets and all signs of any rats.

post #15 of 27

Interesting about the oatmeal packs...I'm going to try it next time I see rats or droppings!  Does the oatmeal act like a kind of poison???  Making them swell or stop up or something?

post #16 of 27


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sunnysandiegan View Post

We had rats several years ago (8, I think). We live in townhomes and our HOA contracts with a pest control company. They send a guy out to check things out and he asked me a bunch of questions, then recommended oatmeal in waxed paper packets. Rats apparently like oatmeal and will eat through the waxed paper to get it. Then, I guess it swells them up later (back at the nest) and they die.

This was before we were gardening and the pest control guy asked me a bunch of questions to determine if the nest was in our yard or shed or home first. The rat we saw was feasting on the grill leftovers. It was easy to get rid of him with the waxed paper oatmeal packets and we've not seen signs of any more since.


Stupid question: When you say oatmeal, do you mean raw/uncooked oats, or do you have to add water and cook the oatmeal first? I'm going to try this on our squirrel population since I'm allergic to cats...

post #17 of 27

Excellent question, actually. I'm not sure I ever clarified earlier. Sorry about that! Dry ordinary oatmeal. Back then, it was probably the Quaker old-fashioned oats in the cardboard cylinder container.

post #18 of 27

Now I'm no experienced gardener by any means, but I do consider myself quite the home herbalist. It's funny but just earlier this evening I was reading A Modern Herbal by Maude Grieve and she happened to have a tip that may help with anyones garden rat troubles as well as be a useful addition to the home herb pantry. Maude suggests planting Catnip (also known as Catmint) to ward off the rats. Maude writes, "Rats dislike the plant particularly, and will not approach it even when driven by hunger. This dislike of rats for Catmint might well be utilized by growing it round other valuable crops as a protective screen...Catmint is easily grown in any garden soil, and does not require moisture in the same way as the other mints. It may be increased by dividing the plants in spring, or by sowing seeds at the same period. Sow in rows about 20 in. apart, thinning out the seedlings to about the same distance apart as the plants attain a considerable size. They require no attention and will last for several years if the ground is kept free of weeds. The germinating power of the seeds lasts 5 yrs." The flowering tops of the catnip plant are the parts utilized for medicinal purposes and can be harvested in August when plant is in full bloom. This herb is useful for restlessness, colic, nervousness and is a mild nervine especially for children. This herb also aids in healing from colds and fevers! hope this helps someone!

 

                                                                                               love, Jess

post #19 of 27

Thanks for all the tips.  I just moved into a new home and outside in the yard there is a pretty thick garden of flowers and greenery surrounding the base of a tree.  I started noticing at night when outside I would hear rustling in the area and high pitched sounds.  Where I live there are no squirrels, raccoons or anything like that, so immediately I thought of rats.  Then the other night after a huge rustle that sounded like a rat fight in the bushes, I saw one run out across the lawn.  It was HUGE.  There have been no problems in the house, no droppings seen anywhere, not even on the concrete patio near the garden.  I think they run from the road and right into the garden area, and I think that their nest is in there.  The problem is that the area is very dense so I cannot 'see' the nest.  I'm wondering if I use the wax paper / oatmeal technique if they will just carry it into the nest / garden area and all die in there.  It is quite close to my back door and I am worried about the smell from the rotting dead bodies.  Again, because the area is so dense I wouldn't even be able to see them to remove the carcasses.  Any advice?  I'm at the point where I'm scared to sit out at night and my friends won't sit outside with me!  It sounds like there are several of them just from the rustling and shrieking sounds I hear.

post #20 of 27

for the rats:  the nightguard blinking light.  it works.  that, or get one of those fake owl statues.  people say that works, but personally have not tried it (but the light we use)

are you in a situation where you could get a terrier kind of dog or a cat?  if it's that bad?  (sorry, that's not a gentle suggestion, please don't flame me folks)

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