Houston . . . .
. . . . . . . . we have a problem, though my take on it is not likely to be the norm. We first knew that we were providing refuge for a rat during the Big Garden Bird Watch back in February and, since then, there have been the occasional sightings. Then, a few weeks ago on the village Facebook page, someone reported seeing a rat crossing the road saying, and here I paraphrase, that he was all for biodiversity but this was going a bit far. I commented that I had seen them all over the village and, on request, supplied a list of places (omitting our garden) that I'd encountered them, and also commented that they are (mostly) harmless. One young lady came up with a statistic that I haven't been able to verify, that a New Yorker (that sounds as though it should be rhyming slang) is a hundred times more likely to be bitten by a fellow human than by a rat.
I have been able to verify that the diseases carried by rats are also carried by most other mammals and that the usual pathway by which a human contracts the most notorious,Weill's disease, is via cattle - with a massive three people a year in the U.K. succumbing to it. What really scares me, is that someone might call in a pest controller who will incontinently spread really nasty poisons around the country side killing the local wildlife that feed either directly on the poison itself or on tainted animals. Pets and children are not immune. Rentokil advertise their willingness to take such action while the wildlife charities condemn it.
It is highly likely that the rats have come here for refuge having lost their home to the wide spread housing developments. I have enjoyed their company but, in the five days since I took the Blip, we seem to have rid ourselves of them by the simple measure of not feeding the birds. We used to attract rooks, jackdaws and thrushes by the score (literally) not to mention most of the garden species of tits, finches and other varieties; I'm sure that they're just as much a health hazard as the rats – but not as cuddly.