Last week we looked at the destructive habits of moles, and discovered that moving to Ireland was our only hope of banishing them from our lives. Following on from my loose Wind in the Willows theme, let’s consider Ratty this week.
Moles are at least cute, and not known for spreading germs. Rats seem to evoke a primal response in many people, and carry some potentially dangerous diseases.
Can rats damage your lawn?
Rats can eat a third of their body weight a day. They munch on bird seed, human food and, for some reason, electrical cables (?!). But grass roots are a great source of moisture for them.
Their burrows and runs are a bigger problem. Like moles, rat tunnels can destabilise your lawn and structures in your garden like decking, sheds and greenhouses. And their runs can quickly erode away grass alongside fences, buildings and walls.
Know the signs
If you see grass pulled up by the roots, and loose grass discarded on the ground you may have rats. A search for their droppings (fun times) will confirm this; they’re big – 15mm long and 5mm wide.
Good garden management
It’s likely that you already have ratty neighbours, but good garden management will keep them at bay.
Rats like places to scuttle and hide. Keep your grass short and avoid letting things overgrow around fences and structures like decking or sheds. And if you use your grass cuttings and leaf litter to make compost, think about ways to protect that too. Compost heaps are a quick source of food and shelter!
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