A less welcome guest

In my last post I showed you some pictures of some minibeasts I was cohabiting with in the summer last year. As the post title indicated, I don’t mind providing board and lodging for those little guys.

But every winter, and often through the summer too, I put seed and nuts out to feed the birds, and I always put some in a tray feeder and also on the ground so the smaller ground feeders don’t get bullied off the food by flocks of noisy squabbling starlings like this one:

Starling, Sturnus vulgaris, Dansk: stær, availing itself of the seed platter

I welcome all creatures to stop by for a nibble in the depths of winter because I think how miserable I’d be if it was me out there in the freezing cold with no food. And until a couple of weeks ago the only non-avian guests I’d entertained were the occasional mouse and the even more occasional squirrel.

But then last week I spotted this little chap poking his head out from under the bush adjacent to the bird feeder:

Brown rat, Rattus norvegicus,

I know that rats can be a problem when there are too many of them in the wrong place, but I have a lot of respect for a creature which seems to me to be the ultimate survivor, I reckon ratty will be around long after humans have killed themselves off! Consequently, even though he is less welcome than my invertebrate visitors, I’m not going to panic and call for the rat catcher or put traps and poison out to try and kill him.

In the blink of an eye he was up the pole and tucking in to the bird food

As I watched, he scurried out from under the  bush and shinned up the metal pole with the bird feeders on and helped himself to a nibble at the fat balls. Now I reckon any creature that has the brains and the balls to do that deserves a little sustenance as reward for his skill and ingenuity. So fair play to him.

I know there are no rats living in the immediate vicinity of my house, and I only ever see them occasionally and one at a time, so unless he moves in and brings his family I’m content to let him scavenge the occasional nut or seed.

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13 responses to “A less welcome guest

  1. Nice attitude, Fiinn – I agree, Rats are really interesting animals as well, though I draw the line at inviting them indoors.

  2. My response to this is that if they are outside, they are fine. Its only when they decide to move in with us that they have to contend with problems ;).

    • Good attitude Fran. I’m with you there, indoors is my domain and any other creaturea are there only with my sanction, but if they stay outside that’s fine by me.

      I’m quite pleased with the response to this post. I thought I was going to get some heavy duty negativity about allowing old ratty to poach the bird food, but all the comments so far haven’t been that way. So hats off to all you good folk for your laissez-faire approach to all creatures.

  3. I’ve never seen a rat in the garden, but then we’re inundated with cats so perhaps they’re unlikely to get a foothold here. I’m not sure that I’d be able to sit calmly watching one shinning up a pole to nibble at fat balls, but I agree with you that they’re wonderful survivors. They’ve had a bad press which has prejudiced lots of people, myself included I’m sorry to say.

  4. What delightful photos of the rat. He looks so cute and I, personally, wouldn’t have the heart to put out traps etc. After all we are the interlopers in his territory. In general, most wild critters deserve their space, but its a shame humans have upset the natural habitat and killed off natural predators OR sprayed crops and got rid of the insects which are their food.

    I always think Mother Nature gets the balance right and we humans upset the balance.

    (BTW I saw what I thought was a large mouse eating seed at my bird feeder, until my neighbour said it was a rat and I really mustn’t encourage him).

  5. We saw a rat the other week after the fat balls out for the birds. Have not seen him since though. Disturbed some mice whilst sorting out some pots behind the shed though.

    • I can’t be bothered to get upset about rodents as long as they’re not in the house or eating my shed! There’s plenty of cats roaming around which probably keep the numbers at manageable levels, and I reckon they’re everywhere where there’s a possible food source, especially in this weather.

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