The Rat Must Die
Simon Cooper has been having problems with a rat…
I have been having a problem with a rat which has grown fat on, of all things, trout pellets. He seems to have a peculiar liking for the pellets which my fish farming friends tell me contain, in descending order of amounts, fishmeal, fish oil, corn product, wheat, soya meal, vitamins, minerals and an amino acid compound. It doesn't sound that tasty to me but fish - and rats apparently -disagree.
This hasn't been my first run in with rodents. A few years ago a family of mice emptied an entire bag (imagine something the size of three sandbags) but ate very few - it sounds odd because it was!
Over a period of weeks they transported the pellets from the bag to the other side of the shed, stacking them up behind a bin. It truly must have taken thousands of journeys and they showed astonishing dedication carrying a few pellets in their mouth each time. I can't imagine how they felt when on finding their cache I shovelled them all back in the bag, storing it in a mice-proof container for good measure. The rat however, was different.
There is a peculiar smell about rats. If you, like me, were bought up on a farm you will instantly recognise it on entering a building. The smell is not gagging unpleasant; a sort of acidic, musty odour of urine that is like nothing else. Rats leave it everywhere - they have no control over their bladder, a trail of their dribbled outpourings left wherever they go. The shed had exactly that smell. A few times I caught sight of a brown furry figure chasing along the edge of the wall, disappearing under the machinery. I took to carrying my air gun but the best effort hit a mower rather than the rat. Next came Jaffa, our cat, the alleged perpetrator of the duckling massacre. He is a regular killer of moles, voles and rats, so a few hours in the shed each day would surely do the trick. But no. All he did was acquire a similar liking for fish pellets.
So I invoked science, buying rat poison which comes as blue coloured corn. However, given a choice between the trout pellets and the corn, well you can imagine. So I took away all the pellets, but the truth is you never really get rid of them all. Over time the bags will have burst, scattering pellets like so many tiny marbles, rolling into every crevice imaginable. There were enough left to keep Mr. Rat coming back. With each passing day I could only admire his plump frame and shiny coat that is a tribute to the protein formula of Skretting, the Norwegian company who make the fish pellets.
Finally, I think he must have exhausted all the pellets for the blue corn started to disappear from the feeder. Not long now I thought. But no, however much I put out each day the following morning it was gone. He was clearly immune, or some sort of super rat. In the end I lost my patience when he started to chew his way into the poison container itself, shredding the plastic lid. It was time for something more drastic - a Fenn trap.
Frankly Fenn traps terrify me. They are a bit like the man traps of old - open jaws that lay flat on the ground until springing shut when the unsuspecting victim steps on a hidden release plate. However many times I watch the YouTube video to remind me how to set it safely I still fear that I will lose my own fingers.
But set it safely I did and, in what I thought was a cunning move, I laid a trail of fish pellets in its path. Success? Not a bit of it. Day after day it was left unsprung, the pellets uneaten. So, I tried the blue corn. Eureka! There was Mr. Rat dead, trapped squarely in the jaws. On close examination he truly was the healthiest, biggest rat I have seen in years. His fur, almost auburn, positively gleamed. If there was a national championship for Rattus norvegicus he would have surely won Best in Show.
Now he has gone, the battle over I feel a little sad and not a little cruel but I comfort myself that for some months, whilst dining like a king, he had the satisfaction of leading me on a merry dance.
Flyfishing.co.uk is delighted to bring you Simon’s feature, which was first published in his ‘Fishing Breaks’ Newsletter.
Simon’s company, Fishing Breaks, based in the heart of the River Test Valley, offers some of the finest chalk stream fly fishing available in the UK – and a whole lot more. Check out their website HERE
Articles by the same author
- Crying Wolf?
- Resurrecting the Past to Save the Future
- It was 90 years ago today…
- The 2016 World Fly Fishing Championships
- Trout Anglers ‘Out for a Duck’
- Licenced to Fish
- Spear and Loathing?
- The Rat Must Die
- The Great Survival Race
- River Restoration