Friday 4 January 2019

A stoat in ermine .....caught and released for biological rat control.

Stoat in ermine  mid-winter camouflage
Until the end of November we were plagued by rats. They are always around when you keep hens. I don't like rat poison, it gets in the food chain, the alternative was to bait some of the squirrel traps , catch the rats alive and then deal with them.

In early December there were no rats to be seen and no rats in the traps...... what was happening?

This week we found the answer, I think. There was a stoat in it's winter coat in one of the traps, the stoat in the image above. It must have a territory around the village because the day after I released it we saw it attacking a neighbour's hen. The hen has survived so far, it's in a cardboard box in the kitchen recuperating from head and neck wounds.

Meanwhile another white stoat, probably the same one was caught in another of my traps in the old byre next door, it had been eating partridges hung quite high up on a beam. This one has been released too. It looks as if the rats have been cleaned out by the stoat or stoats and now they are going for hens and anything else they can find. We can put up with them in return for  "biological rat  control".