Thanks to our charming neighbours, we've spotted rats in our new garden...

We've only been here for a few months and already we're having problems. Initially it was one particular family who have, for no reason, taken a dislike to us. Now thanks to said family, we have another family to deal with - a family of rats.

My partner was in the kitchen about two weeks ago, when she shouted for me to join her. I obliged and asked her what the fuss was about. She explained that she'd seen something run across the wall in the garden. Something small, furry, brown and with a long tail. To me that meant either a mouse or a rat. Unfortunately it had gone by the time I'd got to the window. Figuring it would be a one off, I thought nothing more of it.

However, a few days after this, I was watching the sparrows digging up worms in our garden, when something caught my eye. Just on the very edge of my peripheral vision I could see movement in our neighbours' garden. I looked over to see a rat making its way up there bird feeder to have something to eat and drink. It was quite merrily snacking away without a care in the world! Ordinarily I would leave wildlife to get on with its business, but this is a rat we're talking about. You know? Those pest rodents, those spreaders of diseases which are harmful to humans. Those creatures which, if you find them on your property, it's probably a good idea to destroy them.

I wondered if our neighbours we aware that rats were on their property. Knowing them as we do, I suspected they were not aware. They have a dog, so I thought it would be in the dogs best interests if I let them know. I went around to speak to them, and they ignored me - even though I could see them watching me through their living room window. Eventually they got tired of my knocking and got one of their sons to answer the door. I explained to him the situation, and the response I got shocked me. "Yeah, we know. They're always there. Sometimes we send the dog out and he eats them." (Have a look here to see why this is a problem.) I explained the dangers, but he didn't seem to either understand or care, so I left.

My partner called our local council to inform them not only of the rat issue, but of the response we'd received from our neighbours. They sent a pest control expert out the next day. He put poisons down around their garden and gave them a stern telling off. It seems that the reason the rats liked their garden was because of the poor state it is currently in. Covered in badly cared for decking, with plenty of holes. Their garden is also rather dirty. The perfect environment for these rodents. Afterward he visited our garden to put some poison down, and gave my partner some advice - I was at work at the time.

We didn't see any rats for a while, until a few days ago when I caught one skulking around in the garden. I filled a glass with water, and snuck up on it, and managed to soak it! It ran off, looking literally like a drowned rat! I thought that it would probably back however, so I went shopping... I bought some poison bait stations and positioned them carefully around the garden. I'd seen where the rat entered the garden and where it had left, so I knew where to place the bait. I also made sure that it was out of the way of anywhere that other creatures could get hold of it - I don't want anything else dying unnecessarily. I'm not overly happy about having to destroy the rats either, but it's necessary. (Unchecked, they can have up to 128 babies a year!) I also bought some wire mesh and drain covers, in order to seal off the potential entry and exit points to and from our garden.

The photo above is on our side of the boundary. It should prevent the rats from gaining easy access through there - although that's not somewhere I've seen them. It also has the added benefit of keeping leaves and things from blocking the drains! Below is where I've blocked the access from under our shed - where I have seen one emerge from:

On the opposite side of the garden, there is a little gap between the wall and the hedge. At this point the hedge is not very dense. In fact, it is here where the soaked rat escaped. I've created a mesh 'wall and roof' which will prevent the rats from using this point of access/egress:

The pest control guy will be returning tomorrow to check on the traps he put in the neighbours garden. He may visit us too, but he already knows about the measures I'm taking to stop this. It's very frustrating to already be having these sorts of problems when we've not really settled in yet.

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