I was going to write this post as a “guide” to rats in your horse barn–a few tips to help you determine if you have rats followed by useful suggestions on how to get rid of them. I realized after drafting a rather dry albeit informative piece that none of my carefully crafted points really meant a thing. I could easily cut all the wordy fat down to two encapsulations.

Do you have rats in your barn?
If you have a barn, you have rats, get over it.

What do you do about it?
Kill them, kill them all.

I’m not going to gloss over how I feel about rats, specifically the rats that take up in my barn. I hate them. They chew holes in everything, they jabber incessantly, they dash about my feet, they eat my horses’ food, they nest in my horses’ hay and they POOP EVERYWHERE!

I’m not going to offer suggestions to keep rats away because none work. Well, they might work for a day or two but don’t set your extermination expectations beyond that timeframe. Even if you succeeded in killing every rat in your barn today, you’ve really only created a vacancy for more rats to move in tomorrow.

And they will. Rats are freeloading non-essential life forms and your stable provides them every comfort they desire: protection from the weather, a source of food and water, a warm place to sleep and a secure home for–God help us–making more rats.

Now some of you might feel guilty about killing rats. I admit that when I accidently make eye contact with one, my first thought is “oh, he’s kind of cute” then I pinch myself hard and remember that last month that cute rat ate the starter wire in my car that cost $80 for a tow and $240 to rewire the starter, and I had to use a vacation day for car repairs. Dang it! Okay, back to hating rats again.

Perhaps you haven’t personally experienced a rat problem? You will. So, I have compiled a helpful list to guide you to the light.

23 Reasons to Hate Rats

  • A group of rats is called a “Mischief”. Aptly named.
  • A male rat is a “Buck”. Rhymes with F_ _ _ as in “get the F_ _ _ out of my barn!”
  • A female rat is a “Doe”. Substitute the “o” for an “I” and I’m good.
  • A baby rat is a “Kitten”. Seriously? How about calling them “Miniature Devil Spawn”?
  • Rats live in social communities, groom, sleep even play together. They may become depressed and stressed if alone. Here’s an idea, all of you leave my barn together! It’ll be great, you can hold hands and sing folk songs as you skip over to the neighbor’s barn.
  • Rats have a sense of humor and make a high-pitched giggle when they play.  So do clowns. I hate clowns.
  • Rats demonstrate empathy and can recognize expressions of pain from other rats. How many of you little varmits must I squish in the barn door to make a lasting impression? You’re not welcome! Get out!
  • Some rats can tread water for as long as 3 days and hold their breath for up to 3 minutes. Then why do they keep drowning in my horse’s water bucket overnight? Maybe they didn’t wait 30 minutes after filling up on horse food before they went for a swim? Serves them right.
  • Rats do not sweat, instead the blood vessels in a rat’s tail expand and contract to regular body temperature. So, they’re like aliens?

  • Rats will gnaw through lead, cinder blocks and aluminum to wear down their teeth. Their teeth never stop growing, as much as to 5” annually. I want to insert a penis envy joke here, but I’ll refrain.
  • There are 56 species of rats around the world. Sumatran Bamboo rats can weigh up to 9 pounds and Bambian Pouched Rats can grow to 3 feet from nose to tail. I lived in downtown Detroit in the early ‘80s. Pretty sure I met some of these dudes in the alley behind my apartment building.
  • Rats have been identified as the source for spreading over 35 diseases. Hello, Plague! Note to self – buy more Purell!
  • Rat pups begin reproducing at 3-4 months old and have a litter containing 6-10 pups every 3 weeks. Didn’t your mama teach you to say “no?” Of course not, see next item.
  • A female rat can mate as many as 500 times in a 6-hour period of receptivity with several mates. This “heat” occurs about 15 times a year. She could produce as many as 2000 babies a year. How many barn cats do I need to keep up with this birth rate?
  • Rats live 2-3 years. Less is better.
  • There is 1 rat per person in the U.S.  Are they registered to vote?
  • Rats favorite foods are scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese, cooked corn. Mine too!
  • Rats eat their own feces. Of course they do! (gagging sounds)
  • The more calories a rat eats, the shorter its lifespan. Hmmm, chocolate cake with butternut frosting and nonpareils anyone?
  • A rat can fall 50 feet and land uninjured. The one caught in the rollers of my barn door last week only fell 8 feet, so he probably survived? Shit.
  • Rats have belly buttons. TMI
  • Rats are smarter than dogs and have excellent memories. Once they learn a route, they never forget it. I’m screwed.
  • After sex male rats sing at frequencies beyond human hearing. So did my last boyfriend! Hey, wait a minute.

If after reading this, you still hold guilt about killing a ‘cute, cuddly’ little rat, then watch “Willard” on Netflix this weekend and see if that doesn’t pull the switch for you.


Written by Melanie Eberhardt, Publisher of WARHorses