Rat Hunting On The Farm (Video)


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Categories: On The Farm

Reynolds explains: "The Ryders Alley Trencher-Fed Society hunts throughout the five boroughs of New York City, and there is another fellow that hunts his dogs on farms in and around the California Wine Country. All of these groups are bound by a common interest in working with terriers, dachshunds, lurchers, and long dogs. All of them use diverse breeds of dogs for their hunts."

There are apparently also several active ratcatching organizations in the United Kingdom, which, according to Reynolds, mainly hunt rats on "farms, pheasant shoots, rubbish tips, and other rural sites" with the speed and efficiency of mafiahitmen. In 2005, one British ratting group harvested 407 rats in just a few hours. A year earlier, a Cornwall group visited another farm and killed over 2,000 rats with just 10 terriers.

Working With Your Dog
Rats generally live and feed within a circle of few hundred yards of where you see them. The rats know this territory like the back of their paw, which means your dog doesn't have much of a chance to achieve a high kill ratio unless you help it out a little. One way to do that is to disorient the rats by making mild alterations to their stomping grounds. Move a board or two, place a cardboard box in a new location, set a coke bottle up on end, and scuff your heel in a sharp line or two in the dirt to make a little furrow or trench. All of this serves to alter the rat's visual cues and to break up the invisible but very important scent trails that rats use to "triangulate" their position (like we would use a road or a cross street).  Another important step is to block as many escape holes as possible.  A disoriented rat that hits a blocked hole will be confused just long enough for the dog to nail it. Rat holes do not need to be blocked with anything more substantive than a bit of wadded up newspaper.  Finally, use more than one dog.  The more dogs that are working a rat-infested area, the less likely that a rat will be able to scurry off to safety, and the more disoriented the rats will become.

Great if you have a friendly local terrier owner!

When you hear the word "ratcatcher" you probably picture a character from a Charles Dickens novel. Instead, you should be picturing people like Richard Reynolds, leader of the Ryders Alley Trencher-Fed Society (or R.A.T.S. for short), who hunts rodents in New York using terriers and dachshunds. We reached out to Reynolds to learn more about his artisanal approach to pest control, and he told us that ...

In an overcrowded Victorian prison in northern England.  There was a massive problem with rodent infestation because the drainage system was old and over-used.  The prison authorities dealt with it by paying the local Border Terrier and Jack Russell Terrier clubs to come into the prison once a month, after dark, and let their dogs loose in the yards where the rats were running.  Watching the dogs 'at work' was mesmerizing!

Advantages.

  • Terriers are bred for this kind of work and they love doing it.
  • It's a quick death for the rat - the dogs are quick to catch them and shake them to death.
  • This is a process still used on many farms where these dogs are kept for this specific purpose.
  • Very effective in the short-term.

Disadvantages.

  • Needs doing regularly - the dogs will only catch rats which are running, so babies will be left in the nest unless it's found and cleared.
  • You need to find a terrier owner or club near you!
  • This is a fascinating video by the BBC, showing terriers killing rats on a farm in the UK.  If you're at all worried about this method of getting rid of vermin, please - don't watch it.

Equipment
Very little equipment is needed for ratting. A shovel is useful, as is a hooked piece of rebar to use when lifting boards and shaking or beating on piles of rubbish. A flashlight is required if you are out at night. Gloves are needed regardless of when you hunt. A plastic bucket for dead rats may be useful, as might salad tongs if you are a bit dodgey about picking up dead rats. The most useful piece of equipment is a "smoker" to drive rats from their dens. This can be made by attaching a hose to the exhaust manifold of a small engine, such as an old chainsaw that has had its chain and bar removed.  Add a little extra oil to the mix to increase the smoke.  You will need to add a length of metal pipe to the manifold port in order to help dissipate the heat from the engine (weld on a screw thread and then twist on a 4 foot of pipe on the site). You should look for a flexible hose that does not melt easily as plastic garden hose will melt in short order if close to the exhaust. A good tip is to seek out black radiator hose from an auto-parts store; it can take a lot of heat.

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