Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Monday, July 05, 2010

rodent attack

rats are quite the common presence in our habitat.
as as human activity grows, they move into the human spaces.
not only are they attracted to the human-activity-led food wastes, they also partake of the harvest directly from the fields.

we have comfortably shared the pavilion space with care that we stay off each others routes and avoid contact. this philosophy has worked very well with the toads and frogs.

over the last 2 weeks, they have become really brazen.
the lamp shade has been chewed up, boundaries are becoming blurred and toe nibbling has increased, much to our chagrin.
so i immediately consulted (really, not kidding).
but nothing really to explain why they would choose our toes over the tons of vegetables that are growing in the fields (maybe there are predators outside).

so we took the 'necessary' step of extermination via rat poison. this was 2 nights ago.
and as the nibbling continued over last night, the most amazing sight greeted us when we awoke with a start in the middle of a nibble.
a flutter of wings and lo, behold - we spotted an owl (a baby one most likely). inside the pavilion.
and owl sighting itself is rare, and inside a house is rarer still.
inside the pavilion is not the best hunting ground - too many corners and easy, fast hiding spaces which a bird will find difficult to maneuver. cats will have much better success.
it was most likely a spotted owlet. so we spotted a spotted owlet.
owls love rats (as food, of course) and owl populations are facilitated as a measure towards rat control in open fields.

this is another superb lesson in how nature sets the predator-prey chain in action.
hope the poison does not kill off the owl also :-(
that will be a sad outcome of our unnatural attempt....

my earlier brush with rats also ended up in their misery and my attempted penitence.


Vanessa said...

Setting a trap could have been good, before the rat-poison?
The 'toe-nibbling' is kind of freaky for sure.

Preeti Aghalayam aka kbpm said...

let me know if the poison works at all on the rats. i have known them to circle the poisoned food several nights, and out of worry that a bird will eat it (they dont either, of course), thrown it away. they are all too smart, really, we can invent poison but we cannot make them eat it, this was my conclusion from that exercise! maybe you have another experience, i will look forward to hearing about it!

sujatha said...

how abt getting some cats?

csm said...

v - trap is being procured. but then what do we do post trapping is a Q that is tough to answer.
it tickles more than anything. and it of course keeps you up most of the night:-)

kenny - the rats gobbled up the poison (mortein rat kill) and were almost licking the package for more.
there are some local powder poison varieties which need to be mixed with food. for these to work, you need to give them proper food (vada types) for a few days and then slip this powder in.

sujata - cats are the most obvious solution, but in the process of sharpening their claws, they will bring down the pavilion (it is only tied down with coir rope).

Anonymous said...

Instead of "containment" methods, how about some kind of "distraction" method? Say, food provided consistently every night at a safe distance from the pavillion, kinda like a "lightning conductor" model? That way, the natural predators (like owls and snakes) would have a better chance as well, and they will start settling down in the property.

csm said...

anon - good suggestion. we had left a plate of beans (by oversight) out last night and they were unmolested. in many earlier instances, they would make us pay for such an oversight.
so would not be too keen on this approach.

i apologise for throwing cold water on the good suggestions coming in this post :-)

for the record, rats' incisors grow all the time to keep up-to-date with their constant gnawing. this means that they do have to nibble away continuously at something or the other to avoid looking like bugs bunny.