Like Rats? I don’t.

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.
    Bubonic Plague.
  • 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.

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Fenn Traps

Content Warning.
This little bit is about using a type of steel traps.
There are NO pictures of dead animals
If you don’t agree with trapping that’s your problem.

A VERY versatile trap which comes in two strengths:

  • The Baby Fenn Trap (Mk4). Legal within UK for grey squirrels, stoats, weasels. rats and mice.

  • Daddy Version Fenn Trap Mk6. Legal within UK for grey squirrels, mink, rabbits, stoats, weasels, rats and mice.

Of course it’ll also do a number on anything else small, furry, or feathered if you set it in the right place (or set it in the wrong place depending on your point of view) .

To comply with UK LAW, all traps should be set and either covered with a man-made cage or placed WAY inside burrows to stop the wrong thing from being trapped. Dunno what US laws say but I understand that some less enlightened states ban the use of traps.

So, how good are they? Answer is VERY GOOD if you set them well.
I only own Mk.6 traps.
A bit more meaty a bit longer and wider than the MK.4 yet more versatile.

REMEMBER ONE THING THOUGH, these traps show absolutely no mercy to you if it goes off on your fingers.
This gives rise to a number of self-preservation rules.

  1. DON’T CARRY THEM COCKED.

  2. NEVER TRUST THE SAFETY CATCH

  3. NEVER RELEASE THE SAFETY until it’s in place.

  4. THE TRIGGER PLATE IS SENSITIVE. Cover it over with fine earth or sand from the borrow if you must BUT if the sand gets wet, the triggers on my traps are so fine, they do go off.

  5. Designed to be put out and left, STAKE THEM DOWN WELL.

  6. WEAR GLOVES. Not those little light leathery garden things, good thick rigger gloves.

  7. IF YOU ARE GOING TO MOVE IT, TRIGGER IT. Never try to move one with the safety off.
    Use a lightweight stick to trigger them. It will break.

  8. IF YOU HAVE TO COVER THEM, CAMOUFLAGE THE COVER.
    They are expensive and the anti snaring tree huggers love to steal them.

In use.

  1. GLOVES ON! For self-protection and you shouldn’t handle the trap with bare hands.
    You are trying to eliminate your scent.
  2. Dig a small hole big enough for the trigger plate to be level with the general surface.
    There must be at least 8 inches of vertical space for the trap to fix correctly.

  3. Stake the trap down Use a hefty stake. A poorly trapped animal will fight like mad, it won’t be able to escape the trap BUT it could drag the trap off. That’s two losses, the trap and your meal.

  4. COCK IT AND APPLY THE SAFETY CATCH

  5. GENTLY cover the trigger plate with sifted soil

  6. RELEASE THE SAFETY CATCH. I always use my “stick” having had a couple of random triggers which luckily only caught my gloves.

  7. If necessary cover with your “man made cover” to comply with the law.

  8. Walk away.

When to set them?
I’m a firm believer in keeping my fingers intact so I NEVER set these traps in the dark. I usually set them for rabbit just before DUSK i.e. when the sun is setting.

Then I go back to check the trap next dawn. Four reasons.

  1. The trap may not fire correctly and trap not kill. I’m not squeamish about killing BUT I don’t like pain to me or other things, simple humane thoughts. (Nearly forgot, it’s also UK LAW to regularly check traps).

  2. Foxes and rats love trapped rabbit. The longer you leave it, the more chance there is it will be “tenderized” by somethings teeth.

  3. There is a strange breed of people called sheeple, tree huggers, anti-snaring protesters (and a whole string of less polite names). They will interfere with traps, steal them, SMASH them, or just nick your catch.
    Thus set them late, check them early BEFORE the morning dog walkers appear.

  4. Thinking OPSEC, a trap means a person set it.
    All a person has to do is wait for you to come along.
    Just before dawn, reactions are poor, a watcher will be tired, tired people make mistakes. That could give you the edge regarding your personal survival.

Finally you are probably wondering why I haven’t talked about setting them for squirrel, birds,  or larger prey like cats (which the MK.6 will cope with).

  1. Squirrel I snare. Simple.
    They do work well on squirrel but it is a pain having to set them up elevated in cages to prevent birds attacking them.
    There is also the anti everything activists. They love to smash these traps.
    So it’s cheaper to replace a simple wire snare.

  2. You aren’t allowed to use these traps on birds BUT leaving an uncovered trap with bird seed “glued down” with bird lime does seem to work.

  3. It is illegal to trap domestic animals.
    That and snares work better.
    Cats have a habit of taking whatever is lying round, they are scavengers.
    When ratting, I’ll bait the trap with something nice like peanut butter or strips of flesh from old kills. Cats love this.