WE spoke to garden guru and all-round nice guy, Costa Georgiadis from TV’s Gardening Australia about a problem plaguing our yards at this time of year – rats.
Spreading disease and scaring the kids, rats are setting up home in some suburban gardens and even inside houses.
As Costa says, the main thing to remember is that rodents are opportunists: if food is available, they will come for it.
Rats tend to come into the palm trees when trees go into fruit. The tree puts out a fruit frond and as that matures it becomes quite sweet and that’s what they come up to eat. It depends on the tree, but this generally happens in summer. If you take out the fruit frond before it matures that can help. When they drop on the ground they become a sludgy mess and rats like to eat that.
If rats are up and down a particular tree you can put a collar around the tree to stop them running up. You could pop rivet a piece of flat tin around the trunk, a bit like what they use to stop possums, and they can’t run up the metal and slide off.
If you leave the food out and the coop has a large open mesh they will come around. Try a purpose-built device. Have the food in a chicken feeder with a lid on it and when the chicken steps on the pedal, the lid lifts, and then they eat. Then when they move, the lid goes down.
If you put food out it’s best to have a compost bin near the coop, and then rake up what the chickens don’t eat and put it in the bin with mesh underneath so rats can’t enter.
Don’t leave dog food out. People leave it out and rats go: ‘Happy days, I’ll just set up shop in the palm tree next door because there is dog food on a daily ration.’
Pest control and traps
There are often consequences to using pest control because a dead body can be eaten by something else, which can create problems.
I had a couple of rats set up shop in my place and had to get the good old fashioned trap out and that dealt with them. You can look at different versions of traps but often it’s a case of the simpler the better.