Notes to broadcasters
Content: You can control rats that eat your stored food by using traps, guards, and chemical poison
Wherever there are people, there are rats, because wherever people live, they store food. Stored food – especially grain – draws rats. But you can stop rats from stealing your food.
The first thing to do is to make it difficult for the rats to get at your stored food. The best way to do that is to make sure your storage containers are in good condition and that they are sealed. For example, if you keep your grain in cloth sacks, make sure they are strong and well‑stitched. Repair or replace them if they get torn.
Applying a layer of mud plaster to either the inside or the outside wall of storage baskets also helps to keep rats out of them.
Rats can jump‑‑as much as a whole metre if they get a run at it. So another good thing to do is cut back any branches of trees that come closer than one metre to your house or storage area.
If you store your grain in a bin or crib that is raised up off the ground, set on top of short poles you can attach a rat guard to each pole.
The guard sits on the pole like a collar. It looks like an inverted funnel with the wider end facing toward the ground. Rats can still crawl up the pole, but they cannot get past the funnel shape. The guards need to be about a metre up the pole so that the rats cannot jump over them.
You can make rat guards from any container made of sheet metal, like those used for cooking oil, insecticides or paint. You will need a piece between 15 and 25 centimetres wide.
Chemicals are another way of tackling the rat problem. But if you use chemical rat killers, it is very important that you carefully follow every detail of the instructions that come with the rat poison. Unless you do this, you may not kill and the rats, which means you will very soon have as bad a problem as you had before.
The most effective way to use rat poison is for everybody in a community to decide to try to get rid of rats at the same time. If you have a co‑operative or an agricultural group, perhaps you could get this organized. In Barbados, the farmers’ organization makes up poison rat bait and supplies it to its members.
The thing to remember is to use a slow‑acting poison. Fast‑acting poison does not work because rats are too smart. If they see a fellow rat eat something and then die, they will not eat it themselves. In other words, they become bait shy. With slow‑ acting poison, the rats die several days after they eat the bait, and somewhere else. The other rats do not become bait shy because they do not connect the deaths with the bait.
Rat poisons are dangerous, so you must make sure that they are kept away from children. When poison is put out for rats, it must be shielded so that children and domestic animals cannot get at it and eat it.
Finally, a cat or dog can be a big help to a farmer trying to keep rats away.