When my dogs are antsy and I don't have time for a real walk, I'll let them run in the pasture. Usually there is much running and wrestling and sniffing. One day last week, all that came to a halt and massive digging began.
They were on the septic field, where the grasses were calf high and thick.
Upon closer inspection, I discovered that I had a major rat problem! The trails you see in the first picture were buried beneath the grass. They had their own little highways from nest to nest. They were 4 inches across and at least 2 inches deep.
The two major nest sites were both around the water controls for the septic field.
This time of year, when snakes are cold and the grasses are too tall for birds of prey, the rats flourish. I decided to even the odds a bit by mowing the area of their little town. What I discovered was that many paths led right up to the chicken run. They were thieving chicken food in the middle of the night!
I wanted badly to just toss a couple rat poison blocks down their holes, but discussed the matter with my vet first. It seems that secondary poisoning of animals that ingest the poisoned rats, is a reality. My cat and the birds of prey in my area (Red tailed, Cooper's and Sharp Shinned hawks, Great Horned and Screech owls) were definitely at risk for illness or death. Great, now what? Short of buying a mongoose, I felt out of luck.
Then I remembered I'd had a rat problem years ago when I worked for Wildlife Rescue, rehabbing squirrels. I just went at it, one rat at a time with an old fashioned snap trap. It took me about a month, but I got rid of them.
Last night I snapped my first rat. The reason you don't see a lovely picture of said rat, is that his brother thieves decided if he was already dead, why not make a snack of him. They also chewed on the trap a bit, but discovered it didn't taste as good at their poor buddy.
I'll be buying a couple more traps on my next trip to the store. I think one trap is going to take too long. Too bad they don't make snap traps for English House sparrows. I'd be all good then.