The Rats



When we went away on holiday we left about 3 roma tomatoes on the vine in the hope they would ripen while we were away. We got back and sure enough the tomatoes were still growing well. Seeing as they had done so well and we had so much to unpack we left them on the vine.

The next day we had one of Perth’s s thermonuclear hot blast days – near 40 degree Celsius heat. The next morning both of the cloth bags around the 3 tomatoes had been ripped open and the tomatoes were no where to be seen. Paddy thought it might have been me that harvested them because the cloth bags were opened. We checked our garden camera for signs of movement and they were definitely eaten between 6:30pm and 7:30pm the previous evening. Unfortunately we only have footage before and after the attack because it was night and the attackers were too small to set off the sentry lights.

We even found a bird dropping suspiciously close to the last known whereabouts of the romas and at first we thought that it could have been eaten by the parrots in our area, but paddy figured that a bid would definitely have triggered the lights.

On the ground under the bush we found a also small amount of tomato skin. Not the fleshy part, just the very thin skin of the tomato. Whatever it was is seemed like it didn’t like the crusts…

Perhaps the rats were really thirsty from the near 40 degree heat and decided to try my tomatoes as a refreshing summer snack.

With the romas completely gone and the plant spent we pulled up the tomato and checked the scores.

Of the 7 tomatoes that grew 3 were eaten by cabbage moths and worms another 3 were eaten by the rats. So we only got one seventh of the tomato produce for ourselves. Nature seems to have exacted a hefty price on borrowing a square or two for Paddy’s Garden!

We’d almost forgotten about the tomato incident when we planted 8 bok choi seedlings…

The first night we lost 2 bok choi seedlings. Paddy was very annoyed. He even seemed to think he may have seen something moving outside and he was certainly interested in what was under the wooden decking.

What's under the decking?

What's under the decking?

The seedlings were absolutely stripped bare…

Nibbled bok choy seedling

Nibbled bok choi seedling

The next night was the same, another 1 and a half seedlings. The rats were scaling the 15cm high pots and then eating the seedlings. Only the leaves were gone with a tiny pile of the larger stems from the bok choi seedling left. The rats were completely defoliating each plant in order.

Nibbled bok choy seedling

Nibbled bok choi seedling

If things kept progressing it was going to prove impossible to support the appetite of the rats so we decided to bring in the heavy weaponry. We purchased 2 TomCat reusable mouse traps and set them close to where the bok choi plants were.

Paddy says that you always have to put rat and mice traps as close to where the mice are or the ‘tracks’ they run along. Most mice and rats will run along walls rather than be caught out in the open so place your traps on the edges of walls or garden beds. In our case we put the traps along one run of the fence where we had seen a shadow move one night. The other we put by the bok choi and the few remaining tomatoes on our last healthy plant.

The results were poor. One of the traps had been set off but we hadn’t caught anything… then we paid attention to the garden. The rats had obviously decided instead to finish off another 2 seedlings. What was even more worrying is that the tops were missing of the pea seedlings. Paddy looked pretty concerned. The Rats seemed to have a wide ranging diet.

Rats eat pea seedlings

Rats eat sweet pea seedlings

The next night two sweet pea seedling were completely gone. It seemed the rats really liked the leafy parts and tips of the plants. One plant has survived (pictured) but the other two looked pretty much stripped but we left them in anyway.

We purchased a TomCat rat trap from Bunnings that seemed to have a fair spring in it. The other TomCat mouse traps seemed to get set off from easily from rain or wind and we needed a bigger trap to catch the mother rat – apparently Paddy thinks there’s a big one somewhere..

TomCat rat trap

TomCat rat trap

We set the trap but I was pretty worried about catching the neighbors cat or even Paddy himself so we were constantly moving it or releasing the mechanism so that it wouldn’t cost us thousands of dollars in vet bills.

Smart mouse trap

Smart mouse trap

The next night was even worse. The rats had finished every bok choi seedling we had leaving just half of the last one but they’d obviously gotten bored of the bok choi (or wary of the big rat trap sitting next to the last plant) so they started on the broccolini.

Rats eat Brocolini

Rats eat Brocolini

The broccoli had been growing well since the episode with the caterpillars – who turned out not to like Paddy’s recipie for garlic fire. Each night another plant would be completely stripped of leaves like the one above.

We decided something more had to be done, so we visited Bunnings in search of the smart mouse and rat traps that wont hurt cat or dogs. We installed two of these traps as close as we could the to rat tracks and baited them with peanut butter.

The results were the same, no rats, no mice, another broccolini was missing and we were now looking at four plants surviving from the initial eight plants.

At this rate the broccolinis would only last to the end of the week! Paddy and I decided that the only option was chemical warfare. We read that people had good results with the RatSak sachets and so we picked up a packet of 4 for $5 from Bunnnings.

In the next post we test the poison baits…

Posted in Pests | Tagged | 3 Comments

3 responses to “The Rats”

  1. Rob says:

    What plants keep rats away? we found that the rats were not interested in capsicum and chili plants as well as the usual range of herbs (coriander, mint, basil, chives)

  2. jt says:

    oh yeah? I have just had three large (over 1 metre high) chilli plants totally eaten of all foliage by rats! Think again.

  3. a rat trap says:

    An electronic rat trap delivers a lethal 8,500 volts of electricity, which is more than enough capacity for killing large rats and mice, and for giving a nice jolt to any living thing. I hope it’s not harmful to humans:) Just kidding, it’s not. As a young person, I was enchanted with the strange blue lights that zapped mosquitoes and other airborne insects around buildings. Electronic rat traps are equally as cool, and I definitely am eager to see one in action.

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