CAUTION. Long article so stock up on tea and biscuits.
Them damn things are everywhere and we’ve had the black, brown and the weirdest of dappled thing which executed a perfect back flip tucked double somersault as it thought it could run along the fence at the end of the garden with immunity from prosecution but caught a 22 behind its ear.
I loath them but know that for every one you see, the experts guess that there are at least ten watching doesn’t exactly surprise me. Probably the worse thing for me is their ability to survive on stuff that would make a goat puke and that they thrive in disaster, let alone war. That and how easily they grow immune to rat bait (poison), although that is a direct result in not leaving the bait down long enough to kill all comers!
The health dangers they pose are well-known but how many prep for them?
Do you know how to trap them, how to drown them, what to do without poisons?
After all shooting them (although fun and deeply satisfying) is a waste of ammo and even with a 22, that ‘fun’ can led to unwanted attention.
I’m a fan of snare and dangle when it comes to austere trapping rats as it occasionally catches something edible and sort of safe. but what are you facing aka know your enemy.
Teeth that can chew though steel, carriers of disease which demand antibiotic treatments which means, in an austere scenario, exposure to their urine, waste (poo), oil from their fur, ticks and fleas they can carry, or by consuming ‘nibbled’ or contaminated food could be fatal.
An adult can weigh 1 to 2 pounds, and a body that can grow to 10-14 inches long excluding the tail. Having said that they can squeeze through the smallest of holes.
Why work easily in both the day and night.
Add something that is strongly Neophobic (an inbuilt fear of anything new) and trapping them ain’t easy.
This is no push over folks!
So what’s the common things to think about to discourage them?
One of the usual is to keep clean, uncluttered accommodation.
Keep your store rooms secure and contents in glass or steel bins.
Never leave food stuff just lying around.
Clean up and put away when preparing and cooking.
Wash raw or foraged foodstuff before preparation.
Eat then, not later, and clear away before carrying on your day.
Transport waste WAY AWAY from where you are living before going to sleep or when leaving your shelter for ANY length of time.
Difficult as it might seem, protect your water sources and storage.
That also includes washing bottles AND CANS before opening and drinking from them.
It’s said rats won’t attack you. WRONG!
Cornered, or you stationary for too long, or when asleep, and you are fair game to a rat.
First Aid When Bitten or Scratched.
Control the bleeding and clean the wound with soap and warm water.
Clean inside the wound, being sure to rinse away all the soap.
Cover the wound with a clean, dry dressing.
You can put antibiotic ointment on the wound before covering.
Rat bites often lead to infection.
If the injury is on a finger, remove all rings from the injured finger before it swells.
Watch for these signs of infection: Redness, Swelling, Localized Heat, and Weeping pus.
If infected think Antibiotics.
So what can you catch?
- Streptobacillary rat bite fever.
Symptoms usually occur 3-10 days after an infected rat bite.
Muscle ache, vomiting, joint pain, headache, fever, and rash are common symptoms of .
- Spirillary rat bite fever.
Symptoms may occur one to three weeks after an infected rat bite.
Repetitive fever, an ulcer at the site of the bite, swelling, swollen lymph nodes and rash.
- Leptospirosis and Hantavirus. The saliva of rats carries these two.
- Tetanus infections.
Cause. From a scratch, bite, cut, or graze, and contact from anything dirty, which may be what a rat has been foraging through.
Symptoms of tetanus appear anytime from a few days to several weeks.
The average incubation is seven to 10 days
Common symptoms include:
Spasms and stiffness in your jaw muscles, Stiff neck and abdominal muscles, Difficulty swallowing, and Random pain.
- Plague. From what it carries in the form of ticks and fleas.
- Sudden onset of fever and chills, Headache, Fatigue or malaise, Muscle aches. Visually – swollen and tender lymph nodes — called buboes — in the groin, armpits or neck.
Septicemic plague occurs when plague bacteria multiply in your bloodstream.
Symptoms: Fever and chills, Extreme weakness, Abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting.
Bleeding from your mouth, nose or rectum, or under your skin. Shock!
Blackening and death of tissue (gangrene) in your extremities, most common in fingers, toes and nose. BARRIER NURSING.
Pneumonic plague affects the lungs and it’s airborne (droplet infectious).
Signs and symptoms can begin within a few hours after infection.
Difficulty breathing, Nausea and vomiting, High fever, Headache, Weakness, Chest pain, Cough, with bloody mucus (sputum). Respiratory failure and shock within two days of infection. FULL BARRIER, respirators, the works.
Needs to be treated with antibiotics within a day after signs and symptoms first appear. Or it is likely to be fatal.
You’ll probably notice I haven’t listed treatments.
But you all have a copy of “Where there are no Doctors” to hand or an equivalent. Haven’t you?
So having scared you onto the toilet for a long sit, lets look at what rat ‘sign’ looks like.
They usually run along the same tracks leaving a telltale smear over time.
Their footprint is a four-toed front and five-toed back footprint.
Feet and that loathsome tail marks.
Tracks will have signs of gnawing along those tracks. (DIY Teeth Care)
Not forgetting rat scat and urine scent marking stains (Don’t sniff or touch!).
Scat is skinny pellets, usually about 10 mm long and 3 mm across but the size will vary.
Rounded tips. Fresh dark brown, but they get lighter with age.
PPE for rats.
Whoops, I meant what you should have when dealing with rats.
Gloves and HEAVY DUTY TYPE. Think welders grade, long wrist cuffs.
I also wear a pair of nitrile med.inspection gloves underneath as rat piss can soak through leather. Me, paranoid? You think!
A good quality FFP3 / N95 or N100 OIL RESISTANT mask.
Safety glasses, snug fitting wrap round.
When working in dusty conditions, contaminated material in the eyes is rather like mainlining bacteria into you.
BOOTS, rigger boots preferred. Steels with instep safety.
Why? Stepping on a nail could inject their ‘product’ into your foot.
Overalls, I use disposable hooded type. After all what’s a few dollars over your health.
I also tape the overalls to my boots and gloves. That’s not so much to stop the rats looking for nuts, but dust can reach you in a windy hazardous scenario.
A pair of tongs and a hammer handle.
NEVER pick up a rat, dead or alive with your hands.
They can be stunned by pellets or slugs and awake in your grasp.
They also twitch and can force-ably defecate and urinate in their death throes.
The hammer handle? A secondary wack on their head can save you from a stunned rat.
Lastly (but optional) Get your tetanus booster updated.
The only thing I haven’t talked about in-depth is trapping.
If you are a fortress type prepper, you’ll probably have traps as part of your inventory.
If you aren’t ‘home based’, you may have to improvise.
I’ll make a few traps up and photograph them. They all work although farm rats can get BIG!
If you cage trap, to kill them, DROWN THEM overnight. Only remember the water will be bio hazardous to you after their long soak.
If they are ‘trap dead’, burn the carcasses. Rats will eat rats.
Think of them like politicians and leave nothing for the next generation to feed off.
1300 words, whoops sorry, but they do present a clear and present danger to the survivor.