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2006-Jan - Our Place - The Fight between Man and Rat
I finished the rat proof perimeter in Dec 2005 just before I went away to Tasmania for 10 days.
During the process of gradually sealing each section, I would hear a response from the rats each night after my work for the day.
The rats would expect to exit the ceiling along their usual route and if they found it blocked they would set about trying to chew through the new pine planking. At first I thought the sound came from them "jiggling" little bits of mortar at the top of the walls - it took me a couple of months to realise that this was the sound of chewing.
When I got back from Tasmainia I found out that the rats could still be heard running around in the ceiling - which was pretty disappointing after all the work I had put in. There wasn't even the sound of chewing each night - meaning that they were still finding really easy ways in and out.
At that stage I went on to installing the insulation bats in to the ceiling. Suspecting that the rats were somehow entering through the wall cavity - I pushed rolled up chicken wire in to the top of the cavity. This required me to remove the roof sheeting all the way around the edge.
It was while removing the roof sheeting that I found all sorts of other gaps and weaknesses in my perimeter.
It turns out that roof sealant is a pretty good plug for all these nooks and crannies - the rats have a little chew but very quickly give up
After plugging all these new found leaks I received the satisfaction of hearing the rats having to chew their way out each night. By now I had painted all the pine planking in a deep red colour and every morning it was very obvious where they had chewed their way through.
It turned out, that if confronted by a flat pine surface, the rat could do nothing. However - if they could get their teeth in to the corner of a pine plank then they could break through. The rats were in fact gaining access to these corners by coming up through the cavity in the wall. The chicken wire eventually curbed this activity.
In addition, wherever two bricks were joined with mortar, there was always a little indentation where the rats could get their teeth in to something.
For the next three weeks a daily battle ensued. Every morning I would come outside and find where they had broken out - plug it with sealant, or a strip of pine or poke in chicken mesh and screw down a little wooden block.
Eventually I could tell that I was really putting the rats under pressure - they really had to fight their way out each night.
At this point it occurred to me that if I opened up a gap in the perimeter, let them out and then plugged it up again at say 2.00 am in the morning - then they would be locked out and probably less desperate to chew their way in than if they were locked inside and had to escape by chewing their way out.
I talked to Linda about this - but she was worried that we would end up with more rats going in that coming out.She came up with the brilliant idea of mounting a humane trap near the exit hole so that no new rats could come in and the exiting rats would be caught.
I took the idea a bit further by setting up a pipe between the interior of the roof and the humane trap suspended under the eaves.
Over the next week we would check our "rat overflow" each morning and took a number of rats down to the nearest national park for release. (they probably found their way back again in 3 days)
You will notice in the last photo below that the rat has soft grey fur, a white tummy, round ears and a short nose - this means that it is a native rat. They are very cute and we don't hurt them
Eventually there was complete silence in the ceiling and no new droppings turning up in the ceiling.


We still get futile chewing on the timber from the outside and I keep a constant watch for break ins.

Futile Nocturnal Chewings

The rat overflow

Caught !