Humans 2, Rodents 0

Of late, there have been two main impediments to our working more in the garden (apart from the perennial problem of too little time at the weekend): the cats, and the rats.

We have a problem with the neighbourhood cats fouling in our garden, including our lawn. At a rough count, there are probably upwards of a dozen cats in a two house radius of us. Ours is the only cat-free house, not because we don’t like cats, but because we don’t want to bring yet another cat into the area; our garden in contested territory, with frequent fights. Any reasonable suggestions for dissuading the feline vermin from shitting everywhere will be gratefully received. Given that we’re having to check the lawn for cat shit before letting the run around on it, and that I can half fill a carrier bag (a couple of kilos of shit) every few weeks, the definition of ‘reasonable’ could stretch quite a long way.

The problem with the cats wouldn’t be quite so galling if they were actually any use at doing what cats do: eating small creatures, or rather the right small creatures. Right-hand next door’s kitten has demonstrated that she’s perfectly able to take on slow worms (alas), but they won’t tackle anything larger. And this is where the rats come in.

Long story short, we have rats in our compost bin. We don’t put meat, bones, skin or cheese in the compost bin, but they turned up nonetheless. To begin with, we weren’t too bothered (they only seemed to be infrequent visitors, and were doing a better job of turning the compost than I was), but the veg peelings in the compost were disappearing far faster than microbial processes could usually manage and there was a bit of a whiff by the shed (next to the compost bins).

Bought a couple of rat traps (and warned the off them), and set them up on Saturday night. This morning, nothing. One sprung but empty, one not even touched. The was off on a playdate this morning, so and I took the opportunity to do some work on the garden – scarifying the lawn, turning the compost and so on. Reset the traps and got on with the jobs (in the process discovering a rat nest in the compost that consisted mostly of scraps of plastic bags). After a short lunch, headed back into the garden to find that both traps had gone off, one with a mouse and one with a largish rat (14″ or so) that had, uh, ‘exploded’ messily.

A good start, but I doubt that we’ve caught all of them.

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