When Rats Gain, Farmers Lose: How to Store Grain Properly

Post-harvest activities

Notes to broadcasters

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Many farmers risk losing a significant portion of their grain harvest to rats and mice. However, if they use proper storage techniques, there are ways that farmers can save their harvest from the rats and use it to feed their families. The following drama about two rats delivers some serious messages about storage in an entertaining manner. Choose actors or volunteers with distinct voices and a talent for portraying the different characters of rats Felix and Rusty.



A well-fed, knowledgeable rat
A poorly-fed rat, anxious to learn


-You work hard growing your crops. What could be worse than losing your harvest to a bunch of rodents? Well, we have good news for you today: you can protect your harvests from rats, mice and other rodents. How? Rodents need food and shelter to breed. So, make sure your grain storage provides neither food nor shelter.

Today’s program about two clever rats, Felix and Rusty, shows how easy it is to be outsmarted by rodents. Listen carefully to learn how you can protect your grain stores from these pesky thieves.

-(squeaky rat sounds) Rusty, my young friend! I haven’t seen you for a while. How have you been?

-Not so good, Felix.

-You do look a bit skinny. No luck finding food?

-No – there is no food anywhere! My farmer has sealed off the granary. I can’t find a way in!

-That sounds terrible! My farmer makes it easy for me to get into his stores. There are always holes in the storage area that he doesn’t patch. I just walk in, eat some grain, and take some back to my nest. A pile of grain makes a great toilet too.

-Wow Felix, you really are lucky!

-It’s not just luck, my friend. I know where to look. You have to find the right kind of farmer. Look for a farmer who spills grain on the floor and doesn’t clean it up. And if he leaves empty bags lying around, you can use those bags for nests.

0Hmmm. My farmer removes all the rubbish, loose grain and empty sacks. And she’s always sweeping. I had a nest in an old sack in the corner. One day, she swept my nest away!

-You poor fellow. How are you ever going to start a family?

-That’s exactly what I’m asking myself. I already have a girlfriend. All we need is food and a home so we can start breeding. I would appreciate any advice you have, my wise rat friend.

-(proudly) Well, I have to admit, I do have some good experience, so I might be able to help. But you have to listen carefully. First, look for any overhanging tree branches – anything at all that leads to the roof of the grain storage area. Use your excellent climbing skills! You can easily enter through a hole in the roof.

-But my farmer built her granary with brick walls and a metal roof. I can’t find a hole or any other way to get in. And she cleared the weeds and rubbish from the outside of the building. There are no branches leading to the stores, no hidden spaces to live, nowhere to safely build a nest.

-What about eating garbage?

-Not in my village! Garbage is becoming harder and harder to find. All the farmers are cleaning up after themselves.

-Aren’t there any farmers using bad storage methods?

-I don’t know. All over my village farmers have even put rat guards on the legs of the stores to stop us from climbing. And they are so high that I can’t even jump over them.

-Hmmm. (pausing) Let me think some more. What about chicken feed? That’s tasty. Some farmers leave bags of feed around.

-No luck there either. My farmer seals and stores her animal feed in places I cannot reach.

-This sounds very bad. I hope these ideas don’t spread to my village. If all farmers take this kind of action to keep us out, we rats won’t be able to survive.

-I know – it’s scary.

-You know, Rusty, I’m going to break my personal code of secrecy and let you come to my nest. Come over to my village where there are holes in the granaries and garbage in the streets. Never let it be said that Felix doesn’t come to the aid of his starving friends. We will eat like kings!

-Felix, Thank you. You’re a true rat!



-You’ve been listening to: “When rats gain, farmers lose, – a story about protecting your grain from rats.” Remember the steps you can take to protect your grain:

  1. Don’t let rats get at your grain stores. Store it in tightly sealed sacks or containers. If possible, keep stored grain off the ground – high enough so that rats cannot leap up.
  2. Don’t leave grain spills on the ground. Keep your grain storage area clean and tidy. Sweep regularly.
  3. Don’t provide nesting places. Check regularly for holes in walls and other entry points.
  4. Clear weeds and materials around the outside of your storage area. Rodents are secretive and avoid open spaces.
  5. Remove overhanging branches. Rodents can climb plants and trees and enter through the roof.
  6. Keep a cat or dog on your farm to frighten rodents.
  7. Keep animal feed, especially chicken feed, in a protected place.

Most of all, remember – don’t let rats get away with your grain. In today’s program, the part of Rusty was played by __________________, and the part of Felix was played by ___________________.



Contributed by Belinda Bruce, Vancouver, Canada.

Reviewed by Peter Golob, Agricultural Consultant, Lincolnshire, UK.

Information sources

Integrated Rodent Management in Post-harvest Systems for Smallholders, Storekeepers and Rodent Pest Managers, GTZ, 1998.

Pest Management in Farm Granaries, by Robin Boxall, Peter Golob and Robert Taylor, 1997. Natural Resources Institute, Chatham, UK.

For more information about storing, handling and processing foods, please contact François Mazaud, Post-harvest Management Group, Food and Agriculture Organization, Viale delle Terme de Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy. E-mail: francois.mazaud@fao.org URL:http://www.fao.org/inpho