Forest & Bird’s Pest Free Hibiscus Coast project is offering free ‘rat tests’ this autumn, but not the kind that you get from the pharmacy for Covid-19 – these are chew cards designed to detect any rodents lurking in the backyard.
Chew cards are pieces of corflute plastic, infused with peanut butter, which pests leave bite marks on. Like a Covid-19 RAT test, they are not 100 percent accurate, and a negative chew card doesn’t mean that rats aren’t there – it just means they haven’t passed through that week.
Project manager Jenny Hanwell says putting chew cards in the garden will help locate a good place to put a rat trap.
She says that autumn is an important time to set your trap, as the cooler weather sees rats looking for food and shelter nearer to our homes.
“All our volunteers working on parks are reporting an increase in bait take and trap catches at the moment, and our data shows we removed over 50,000 rats last year – so we need the community’s help,” she says. “Rats breed so quickly that every rat counts.”
More than 1400 locals have signed up for a free rat trap, in a scheme run by the project and supported by Auckland Council.
You don’t have to see a rat to start trapping – it’s about having a trap or bait station set to protect native wildlife and your property, not about having “a rat problem” at your place.
You can order your chew card or rat trap at www.forestandbird.org.nz/how-can-you-help-pfhc
Top tips for successful trapping this autumn include: • Position traps near where rats might be getting food and warmth, such as compost bins or decks. • Bait traps regularly with a variety of lures, such as cheese, chocolate, peanut butter or mayonnaise. • Remove easier food sources from outside, such as pet food or fallen fruit, and never put out bread or even seed for birds – it’s not eaten by the native birds that need our help, and often only attracts myna birds, pigeons and rats.