There are limits, even for pacifists, and I’ve reached mine.

All my humane attempts to trap the rats and they have proven themselves smarter than me.

The live trap was a dismal failure. A rat managed to go inside and drag out all the bait without making the door close – the tin foil with a blob of peanut butter, the peanuts and the marshmallow, all of it. They had a feast.

I tried stuffing their tunnels with chicken wire and laying a piece over the top of the whole mess weighed down with cinder blocks. They happily dug around it.

I had seen a rat hanging around the back of the chicken yard one day that looked like it was sick. Legs all drawn up under its belly, moving slow. I had an urge to catch it a nurse it back to health. I think it was actually laughing so hard at me, it couldn’t stand up. And there I was feeling sorry for it.

Well no more.

I had to go to four stores to find an old-fashioned snapping rat trap. There were all kinds of contraptions for catching mice, including sticky paper. Gross. Poison foods abound. Finally, at the local hardware store I found my device. They only had two and I bought them both.

I carefully smeared a thin layer of peanut butter on the bait hook and managed to get the hook through the hull of a peanut to make it extra hard to pull the peanut off. I baited both traps and carried them out to the chicken area.

I opened the blueberry patch gate and started with the exit tunnel at the end of the row of blueberries. I knelt down and carefully pulled back the kill bar, swung the holding bar over and with the holding bar resting in the bait hook, placed the contraption on the ground. With care I removed my hands.

Then I placed another trap on the roof of the chicken-house where the rats go dancing at night.

I was happy none of the traps sprung in the process of positioning them. That will scare the crap out of you and if you’re unfortunate enough to have your fingers in the wrong place, hurts like crazy.

The next morning, I saw to my delight, one of the traps was successful. I caught a female, which I thought was fabulous. That will eliminate many baby rats. I said a prayer of thanks and asked forgiveness for killing the rat.

The rats had danced all night around the trap on the chicken-house roof.

I reset the tunnel trap and the next morning and to my amazement, it was licked clean of peanut butter without being sprung and they managed to make off with the peanut to boot. Plus, the roof trap still sits amidst the rat turds untouched.

Is this the hundredth monkey syndrome? Time will tell. I cleaned the rat poop off the chicken-house roof and reset the traps again. I’ll let you know how this progresses.

I would be so grateful if they would just decide to look for a better, more hospitable place to live, somewhere far, far away.


Rat in the Chicken Yard


Sometimes I store an extra bale of straw on top of the hen-house to keep the straw dry. When I’ve popped the strings off and it’s opened, I wrap an old sheet around it to hold it together so the straw doesn’t get loose and blow all over the place. I pulled the corner of the sheet to get a bit more straw to put in the hen-house when a rat dropped on my flip-flopped foot. I squealed and the girls ran over to see if they could catch the rascal for me. In the brouhaha the rat ran across my foot two more times. I was squawking and dancing worse than the chickens.

Eventually the rat darted under the hen-house and we all quieted down. I took all the stored straw, spread it in the chicken yard and threw the sheet away. I’m going to have to find a better place to store straw.

The rat is still living in with the chickens. He has done what I thought was the impossible and tunneled under all that wire I so carefully buried in the ground to make him or herself an escape route right into my blueberry patch. I’ve tried blocking the tunnel with a brick, to see that, in a few days, the tunnel has widened, rat-sized around the brick. I then set up the have-a-heart trap in the blueberries by the tunnel-don’t want the chickens getting trapped. Apparently I haven’t found the right bait for rats. I think I heard somewhere those marshmallow-y candy circus peanuts I ate as a child work? Or was that for squirrels? Really, a squirrel is a rat with a bushy tail so maybe it’ll work for either.

My next tactic will be to ball up some chicken wire to stuff in the tunnel, with wire spread out over the entrance, weighed down with a cinder block. I’ll attempt this late at night when the rat is hopefully carousing outside somewhere else. I’ll keep you posted.