|Stoat in ermine mid-winter camouflage|
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".