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Are rats part of the normal fauna at the barn?

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  • #21
    Well, if you are lucky, you'll get field mice instead of rats.

    In the city, Cloudy and Callie had big rats running around at night in the rafters. When I moved them to another barn, we got field mice. Either way, barn cats are a necessity.

    When I was a kid, my father's bird dogs used to kill the mice who tried to move into the hay barn. So dogs can do the work as well as cats can.

    At least the rats weren't as big as the wharf rats downtown. But rats and mice can carry lepto, which can hurt your dogs and horses. So you don't want Mickey Mouse running around the barn. (I never got into the Disney Mickey Mouse idea.....I always cheered for the cats in cartoons vs. mice.)


    • #22
      Originally posted by Bluey View Post
      Rabbits also, although they are not rodents, but lagniappe
      LMAO!! Rabbits are LAGOMORPHS! "Lagniappe" is a New Orleans word meaning "a little something extra." *wipes eyes from laughter*
      I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry


      • #23
        Originally posted by wireweiners View Post
        Um, Bluey, I think you mean rabbits are lapine, which is part of the scientific name for rabbits. A lagniappe is French for a small, unexpected gift, often given by shop keepers in appreciation for your business.

        I believe rats come in cycles. Several years ago, we had a horrible rat infestation. My daughter and I came home late on night after her dance class and found two HUGE rats running across the tops of the cabinets. They scared the bejeezus out of both of us. My house is a pier and beam with pvc plumbing and the rats destroyed the plumbing. I'd no sooner get one leak fixed and they'd chew through another pipe. My parents got them in their carport and they chewed the wiring in my mother's car. I used poison and traps to get rid of them. I now have a family of barn owls living in an abandoned house near my house and I haven't had a rat problem since. I'm also careful to keep the grass mowed too. My lawn mower had broken in the Year of the Rats and the grass in the back yard had gotten fairly long.
        Lets split the difference, as rabbits, I checked this time, are lagomorphs.

        I see someone else already corrected that.

        Yep, should have just said rabbits are not rodents, not guess at the name.


        • #24
          We had rats for several months. Then, a fox began frequenting our back yard. For several years, she would sit on the hill just behind the barn every evening. Within days of her arrival, the rats were gone. Coyotes have now moved into our area and killed our fox. I will be really angry if we end up with rats again.


          • #25
            Ahh rats, unfortunately I have lots of experience with rats - nasty critters. I boarded for several years at a large 60+ horse boarding barn in Atlanta. The place was overrun with rats. A creek traversed the property and there was lots of dense vegatation on either side of the barn - perfect setup for rats. I always rode at night and it was not at all unusual for rats to run within inches of me. I periodically found dead rats in my mare's stall when I cleaned it on the weekends - apparently she was not a sharer. Rats would be milling around horses who were laying down sleeping. Really, it was incredibly gross and that it didn't cause health problems was pretty amazing.

            Apparently before I boarded there they had a very large cat population, but the cats used the indoor footing as their litter box. A pregnant boarder became ill from inhaling the dust so the cats were rehomed.

            I had a similar problem with rats at my house in Atlanta. Again, my property backed up to a creek. We were very particular about keeping food stuff in rat-proof containers, but they still came looking - my husband earned the moniker rat slayer and he had plenty of work. It was GROSS.

            Now we're on 13 acres and I've seen maybe 2 mice in our barn and none in the house. We also have a pair of resident hawks, 2 cats (one of which is purely decorative) and a "stray" dog that is hell on wheels when it comes to rodents.

            While I think good housekeeping and horsekeeping helps, if you're in an environment that encourages a healthy rat population on surrounding property it's a never ending battle.
            If you believe everything you read, better not read. -- Japanese Proverb


            • #26
              I have this theory that where there are rats, there are no mice as the rats cannibalise on the baby mice. However, rats, in my opinion are much, much nastier. They can be re-bred while they are still lactating a litter and can
              reproduce in a matter of a few weeks, doubling and tripling their population.
              We try and jump on the problem as soon as we see signs before the explosion.
              We use traps and poison judiciouslyl.
              Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


              • #27
                Our problems with rodents of all kinds is because we are in the middle of pastures and fields and there is an inexhaustible source of them.
                They just keep coming.

                As anyone around here knows, cats are not close to enough, plus for us, our resident bobcat doesn't let any cat live but a few days, this is her territory.
                We have many coyotes also, but they coexist with the bobcats.

                Too bad either of those are not that good at keeping numbers of rodents down in the hay barn.


                • #28
                  I never kill rat snakes, and I welcome them. Have a wildlife exemption on my property so I don't allow barn cats or unsupervised dogs.

                  The snakes take care of rats and mice because I never see them. I have plenty of hawks too that scan the fields. And whatever else I don't see that hunts at night. Message: preserve your natural wildlife.
                  Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.


                  • #29
                    I think rats are smarter than mice, and that's why you don't SEE them as often.
                    My current barn had a lot of raccoons until the JRT arrived. Now no raccoons but no more barn cats.


                    • #30
                      Rats and mice will also depend on your location, immediate area ecosystem, barn conditions, food storage conditions and other local wild and domestic animals.

                      Having a mouse or rat infestation isn't always a sign of poor food keeping or lack of cat/predators. But those things can help control the rodents.

                      First barn I worked/boarded in had a rat problem. A HUGE rat problem. Not meaning tons and tons of rats...but the rats we had were HUGE, LOL! And bold. On nights before shows, when you walked into the barns and hit the lights, they didn't run but stared you down. They were controlled (as much as possible) by barn dogs. Nope, we didn't have a single barn cat. We had barn dogs. They roamed freely through barnyard, barns and loft. And were both deadly to rats. A chocolate lab and a GSD, both females. And any other vermin. No JRTs...the rats were probably close to that size, LOL! There was no eliminating them...too big of a place run by BOs sons who fed on the run. Always spilled food. But the 2 dogs did a pretty awesome job keeping them to a minimum.

                      Over the years I've been in barns that had mice and/or rats. Rats tend to be more commonly seen when barns are near standing water/swampy areas. Mice when surrounded by fields. Never on an infestation level, but knew they were around. (never as obvious as the first barn)

                      My home barn is surrounded by heavy woods. (I'm almost surrounded by state forest) I don't really have either in my barn. I'm anal about keeping the barn immaculate and don't have messy eaters for horses, BUT this area also doesn't have any *ideal* rodent living conditions either. There are less to be lured in. There are mice, but not many. I have chipmunks up the wazoo though, LOL! One chippy tends to use 2 of my barn's floor mats as a pantry, stores it's groceries under there. But it lives in a series of tunnels in the bank behind the barn.
                      I see it often running into the barn, then coming right out again with fat cheeks. Cracks me up! On some winter mornings it's waiting for me to open the barn doors so it can grab some grub. I've had it for years...if it's the same one.

                      And it's not just my barn...my neighbors with horses don't have issues with mice or rats either. There's a VERY healthy predator population around outside, so probably less of a population to consider moving in. But if my barn was surrounded by fields or crops...I'd probably be inundated with mice. Or had more marshy areas (we have some wetlands, but those nearest me are only damp for a short time each year) I'd probably have to deal with rats. There's definitely mice in the woods, but for some reason they prefer to stay there. I don't even get mice around my bird feeders and there's a BUTTLOAD of spilled seed all over the ground. Never had a mouse track in the snow.
                      You jump in the saddle,
                      Hold onto the bridle!
                      Jump in the line!


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by Chall View Post
                        I think rats are smarter than mice, and that's why you don't SEE them as often.
                        I think you're probably right. The barn that I boarded at with the largest vermin problem was also home to several dogs that were usually out and about with the owner. While he and the dogs were around, you would sometimes see mice, but not usually rats. As soon as he put the dogs up to leave, and the truck pulled out of the driveway, the rats would start coming out of the woodwork. It was uncanny.

                        Once he bragged that his dogs were killing the rats, and I told him they were only killing the dumb ones

                        For a while the neighbor at my home barn had a rat terrier that would come and visit, and kill rodents, so she was always welcome in the barn. Then we had a barn cat who was a great hunter, but since we have a lot of coyotes in the area, when she passed away we didn't replace her. Now we have a fox that lives in the area, which probably helps some.

                        But mostly I think what's working for us best is cleanliness. I don't leave any grain out, horse treats are in a metal container. And we have two hay storage areas, so every spring we sweep them out completely, and shift last year's hay over to one place to make room for the new hay on the other. And I keep most of tack and stuff in the house.
                        "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                        -Edward Hoagland


                        • #32
                          My barn cats think those dead voles and mice are as close to a lagniappe as I'm going to get!

                          To the main question: I have never seen a rat at any barn and around here, our 6 barn cats keep the place swept clean of mice. The big rat snakes and fox around here sure do their part also in keeping rodent populations managed.


                          • #33
                            It has been my experience that rats mostly come out after dark and it can be difficult to know if you have them unless there are enough of them to leave poop trails and pee on things. We get the occasional rat, Rattus norvegicus, here and our cats will not take one on. The dogs would chase them, but they are usually in bed by the time the rats come out. We had one trying to get under the house through a screen vent the other night, it's the first one we had seen in a while, and they seem to coexist with the field mice quite well. I am going to put my rat zapper outside as soon as DH builds a box for it. I think country/farm living, or living with animals really, will bring rats and mice also, no matter where you are.
                            My blog: Crackerdog Farm


                            • Original Poster

                              Thank you for your insight!! The friends' barn has plentiful dog/cat food and usually has a plate of cookies/tray of brownies in the aisle. Friendly group, they always offer to share when I pick up a friend en route to lesson/trail/clinic/hunt etc.

                              That Atlanta barn overrun with bold rats may give me nightmares - oy vey!! I think I'll get a Ratzapper and see if I do have any of the evil beasts.


                              • #35


                                • #36
                                  Dog and cat food left out is a HUGE rodent attraction! My barn cats get what they can clean up in an hour. I am done with chores by then, pick up what is left over and lock it away in a METAL CAN until night chores. Pet food will ALSO attract LARGE varmints like Skunks, Coons and Possums. If you think RATS are bad, you DO NOT want to face hungry Varmints willing to fight about food dishes!! They will kill cats that argue with them about food and often partially eat them. NASTY. Dogs could lose the battle with a Coon, they are armed on all points, carry disease, as do other animals.

                                  I think Rat Zappers only get the dumb rats. And in my experience, if a rat dying pees on a trap, you will never catch another rodent in that trap.


                                  • #37
                                    I was always told that if you had one (mice or rats) you had the other (rats or mice).

                                    We have been at three barns this year. At barn #1 we had a rat and mouse problem. We saw the mice all the time--they even popped out of drawers in the office desk when you opened them. People who were around in the dark saw the rats and we would occasionally find a drowned one in a bucket. They even chewed on some of the horses' chestnuts (there's a thread on that someplace). This place had a creek that ran right behind it. They put out poison and one point and the problem decreased. Then we got a very efficient barn cat. No more mice popping out of drawers. No more mice in the feed area. And no evidence of rats, which probably means we got the numbers down. While I saw the cat torture many mice and catch lizards, gophers, and baby rabbits, I never saw him with a rat, dead or otherwise.

                                    Then barn #1 got bought by a rescue and we had to move to barn #2. I never saw any rodents at this barn. Flies and ants by the thousands, but no rodents. I suspect this was because they had these scary dogs that roamed the property and probably killed things. Bad dogs--they cornered one of the trainers in the porta potty.

                                    Now we have moved to barn #3. I have not seen any mice or evidence of same. There was a cat already on the property and we moved ours in as well. I keep the cat food in a plastic container and it hasn't been attacked by rodents. It has been attacked by one of the trainers' dogs. I have been told that this trainer's feed room is infested by rodents, but our cat doesn't go near there because of the dogs and I suspect the other cat doesn't either.

                                    Years ago I rode horses at a barn that had a major rat and mouse problem at one set of barns, closer to the road, where there were no cats. All the cats lived further from the road, probably b/c that's where the people who fed them kept their horses, and there were far fewer mice there.

                                    So my observation is that there is an inverse relationship between rodent population and things that kill rodents.
                                    The Evil Chem Prof


                                    • #38
                                      When we purchased our farm it came complete with a rat infestation. It was horrible and and resident barn cat was actually afraid of them. We eventually screened our entire barn so insects and unwanted critters stay on the outside. We do get mice but the barn kitties take care of them. Screening our barn...we made custom sliding screen doors with insect screen on the outside and security door mesh on the inside...was one of the BEST updates to the barn we ever made. It solved a lot of problems and made working in the barn a much more pleasant environment for us and the horses.


                                      • #39
                                        There is really nothing more like a horror movie tha having a rat run over your foot, or brush against your hand while scooping grain, while doing the early morning feed...ugh.
                                        Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                                        • #40
                                          A healthy, diverse ecosystem with natural predators ( hawks, owls, foxes and snakes ) is a good place to be.
                                          Leaving food out is nuts. I have been nuts, but I have repented.
                                          Go rat zapper.