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vonsnorthoof
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Hi Dr. Deb,

We have been having a rat problem at the barn where I board my horse. They come out at night and chew on the horses' hooves, sometimes drawing blood. The barn is located out in the country, have open and sheltered pipe corrals.

Is there a deterrent that can be used, while still being safe for the horse? I have used bell boots at night, bitter apple ointment, and peppermint extract, but the pesky critters are still at it. The management have set up traps/"poison stations," but the rats are still outsmarting the humans.

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

 

Thanks,

VonSnortHoof

sll3454
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Cats?

vonsnorthoof
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No shelter will let us adopt a cat. Tons of coyotes around, so a cat would not last long. Past experiences show this.

DrDeb
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Snort, you're going to have to supply me a photo showing the lesions supposedly caused by rats before I will even start to believe that a rat would chew on a live horse. I suspect the problem you're having has some different cause. So show us where the blood or the chew-marks are, and we'll go from there. -- Dr. Deb

vonsnorthoof
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Hi Dr.Deb,

 

I had a hard time believing it also. It was the vet who said this is somewhat common in our area and in most cases bell boots work to deter rats. I will get you a picture as soon as possible.

 

Thanks,

VonSnortHoof

Cheddar
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http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-229324.html

 

Apparently it was a problem a couple years ago, too, in Southern California.  Unless it was the bats.

vonsnorthoof
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Hi Cheddar,

 

Thanks for your reply.  I would never have believed this possible had I not seen this for myself. I was hoping someone one the forum had experienced this, and would have some solutions. However, solutions seem to be hard to come by. 

I do live in SoCal. The link you sent is exactly what we are dealing with. The rats go for the bulbs, where they seem to able to suck blood. There are several horses in the barn that are affected. I have also noticed teeth marks, or scuff-like markings, on the front of my horse's hooves in the mornings. When I left the bell boots on, the rats were able to get underneath and still do their work. By now this behavior is rewarded in the rats, they get what they want. I just need to find something that will leave an awful taste in their mouths, but something that would not jeopardize my horse's feet or health.

I do think we are dealing with rats, not bats. When I turn on the lights at night, I see them flee the stalls, long tails trailing behind.

I am concerned about diseases caused by this nibbling.

I will get some close up pictures for Dr. Deb.

VonSnortHoof

vonsnorthoof
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Hi Dr.Deb, This is a side view of my pony's right hind hoof. The darker "scars" or teeth marks, show recent chewing, while the ones below it are older. All four feet are affected.
I have not seen her bleed from these scars, but I have seen it from the bulbs of two other horses in our barn. I will try to get you a picture showing this type of "wound."

 I know it sounds crazy and illogical that horses allow rats to get to their feet and that rats even think of chewing on a live hoof. The vet said the rats like chewing till they reach blood so they get to lick/suck it,... and that the horses don't feel any pain!

I'm concerned about the health of my horse if this continues.

VonSnortHoof

sarahmorloff
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WOW, yes, this sounds awful... and strange, a horse can feel a fly on it in a rainstorm and shake it off, YET it would allow a RAT to chew on it's hooves until they bleed??? 

I could never imagine any healthy, alert horse allowing this... I am not suggesting that your horses aren't healthy, just that this sounds very strange...   I am imagining "secret of nymh" rats scurrying around the stall in a creepy way (sorry, I'm not poking fun, but my imagination has gotten the best of me on this one)... I am curious what DrDeb will conclude.

sarahmorloff
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okay, so i should have googled it before imagining such maddness :)  apparently this is not that uncommon, one forum said that they would have a person bring up their terriers and ferrets (as they are breed to burrow and catch rats?) to solve the rat issues... I guess I just would assume that the horse would stomp on it before it would get to the point of blood... do horses sleep that deeply?  I know my horses coronet band, heels and frog area are very sensitive even to flies... Can your barn bring on a couple terriers to help out?

Sorry if I sounded insensitive... it would be a frustrating problem to deal with...

vonsnorthoof
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Hi,

My imagination is running wild also;I see blood dripping off the rats' pointed teeth as they scurry down the aisle! However, this is unfortunately no Halloween prank. I attended a clinic this weekend, and we discussed the problem. One trainer said he used to apply vaseline with hot pepper sauce on to the coronet band. I will give this a try.

sarahmorloff
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won't the oils in the pepper sauce burn?  I used to put it on my stall for cribbing and it seemed to burn his lips (I no longer do this - thought it was unfair to take away his outlet for anxiety)... what about soap? or vet wrap? at least until it is resolved... the last barn I was at had mice (not too bad though) then in the last month there were all of the sudden RATS just a couple but still gross... we figured they came from a trailer that was filled with trash... cause they weren't there until that trailer was...  the dogs were a HUGE help... My current barn has a fake owl up high, a cat and a dog, don't know if it helps but there seems to be a minimal amount of rodents...

maybe some well placed traps?  I would worry about poison, seems like if there is any potentially dangerous thing, a horse will be the one to get into it :s

Good luck with the vampire bats (I vaant to suck urrr blood)... ={)

vonsnorthoof
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You are right about the hot pepper, that was my concern also. The trainer wasn't worried about this, as he said the worst thing it would do was to bring some circulation to the hoof!

I don't know what to do. Dogs are not allow to reside as there is no house on the property and no one to take care of it. My horse is in good health, and so are the other horses that are affected. The rats evade the traps. I am worried about the poison traps the management has set up, as I am concerned about the effect it will have on ecosystem around the barn. We have snakes, squirrels, hawks, owls, coyotes, and more small species as we back up to large open space.

I saw a baby rat at the barn today, not feeling well. I am starting to wonder if I should apply the wisdom of Alan Boone to these rodents. I just have to work on building up my nerve to sit in a dark stall whilst sending positive, admiring, and loving thoughts to the approaching, hungry critters!

sarahmorloff
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You are paying to use this property correct?  In my simple logic, I am assuming that the rats are there because they haven't been shown the door... I would expect that any management that was truly interested in the horses (customers) health, safety and general well being would work hard to not only "send happy thoughts" but to completely eradicate the problem and go above and beyond to prevent it in the future...

They would want to find out why the rats are there.
Where they live during the day/night.
If they are causing damage? (I consider EATING the clients horses damage).
HOW they can get rid of them in the fastest way possible to restore quality care to these animals (who's owners are paying a small fortune to even own)...

Can an exterminator be called out?  Can you guys go to the butchers and pick up some blood and raw meat (gross but might work) to put into the traps??

If it isn't resolved, do you plan on staying there?  If this were my barn I would find it unacceptable (not to mention embarrassing) to have rats, snakes, or whatever else may endanger the safety of the animals that are were put into my care... obviously there is always gonna be a "wildlife" issue, but how far will it have to go before something is done?  What are they prepared to do if an infection sets in and a horse goes lame??

Sorry, I get a little over zealous about the basics... Now I have another thing to add to my list of questions to ask barn owners... "What is your policy on rats and their eating of the horses kept here".... What funny looks that would provoke!
={D

Pauline Moore
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My sceptical mind is having trouble believing this tale, but if it is actually a real problem you could try mixing salt, plain sodium chloride, into vaseline to smear around the coronet. Salt is an effective rodent repellent - keeps mice and rats off stored hay if plenty of salt is sprinkled over and around the bales.

renoo
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One place I used to live at had rat problem. They weren't there, and then suddenly they were rapidly increasing in numbers. They had a whole system of holes in walls (wooden) that divided boxes. When horses were out, the stable owner would come with pneumatic (?) pistol and shoot at them, killing some before they managed to hide. Barn's small dog killed a dozen during day.
But they fed upon oats, not hooves. Pity the picture does not show.

Although I have had stories of rats trying human flesh, if the person lives in rat-infested house without too much food lying around. Usually it has ended with the person waking up and the rat sitting on their chest, or face.

Karla D.
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  Are you aware that rats: 1) carry and spread disease ie rabies, rat bite fever, and were involved in spreading the plague and 2) contaminate food supplies by defecating and urinating in the feed and 3) create structural damage to buildings, and 4)  create the risk of fire by chewing on electrical wiring and 5) are capable of multiplying in huge numbers?  I think that the infestation that you have described presents a significant risk to you and your horse.  Since you do not own this facility you really are not in a position to take charge of the rat problem.  However you own your horse.  You are in a position to take charge of the wellbeing of your horse.  That means that it is up to you to speak and act on his behalf.   And he relies on you to do so.  Perhaps it would be prudent to load your horse in a horse trailer and immediately move him to a facility that has a rat control program in place. 

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Over the years I have had my run-in with rats trying to set up home in my buildings. Because of a rats short lifespan (2 years) they are not that difficult to get rid of if you have a few good cats around. As cruel as it sounds, cats can easily hunt out the nests and young which pretty well depletes the population quickly, the adults are left but not having long lifespans they soon disappear.

We have a lot of cat predators here as well; coyotes, eagles, great horned owls being the major ones. I deal with that problem by simply locking my cats up at nite. The cats are fed at the same time every nite so they hang around at dinner time at the same place, then they are locked up for the nite with the run of the building. They get used to the routine and gladly comply.

Personally I could not use glue traps, too cruel for my liking. Rats are very intelligent and can figure out ways to avoid being trapped. Cats, for me, are the natural choice.

Also, I am pretty fastidious about not leaving loose grain around and think carefully about access to anything a rat might think of as food. (Rats can also play havoc on anything leather.$$$$)

vonsnorthoof
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I appreciate all suggestions/concerns, and for taking the time to write on my post.

The Vaseline/salt mix works!!! For two days I have had no teeth marks/scuffs.

Finding ways to keep grains and hay out of the way and having some form of pest control on the property, not poison, will help cut down on the numbers of offenders. I am actively working with the management and the other boarders on this.

Did some research on the other barns in my area, and found out many of the, even the high-end barns, have this problem. It must be a nasty rat year.

Thanks again!

Sharon Adley
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I have known of a few barn dogs that were very good ratters.  They would dig them out of holes, going down a foot or more into the holes.  This requires some hole refilling, but it's a good way to rid the place of the adults while the cats are taking care of the babies.
Of course, a rat terrier is an obvious choice.  I'll bet Jack Russells would do it, too.

amcunningham69
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hi i have horses at livery in uk and we have had huge problems with rats chewing horses feet. No one believed me so I decided to research ringing equine vets, zoos and rat society. This is what i found out. Rats like the horn in horses hooves frogs and heels. Once they have found the supply they will come back time and time again. The horn actually gives them "the horn" and they go back to the nest full and mate again leading to even more problems. Female rats can pass signals to their unborn young telling them what tto and what not to eat and there fore some will be born knowing to avoid rat bait and know what is good to eat. Iv also camped down in the yard at night and watch them in the horses stables through my infra red video camera. They seem to sit is the banks of the horses bedding and whilst the horse is sleeping standing up and resting a leg they nibble at the frog, heel and hoof. Of course the horse cant feel it as like our nails you cant feel someone cutting the nail unless they go down too deep. Also hard skin on bottoms of our feet is dead skin and again it doesnt hurt cutting this off. Problems arise when the rat gets a bit too close to living skin and may draw blood. the horse then suddenly wakes up and jumps just as we would in our sleep. If blood is drawn at all by a rat anti biotics will need to be given as the huge risk of disease ie viels disease. the only way to get rid of them is to rat bait daily for a month and then weekly then at least every 3-4 weeks as a matter of course. in meantime wrap each hoof in a babies disposable nappy and tape on with duck tape every evening so rats cant get to their feet and remove when turned out this will help to break the cycle in the intrim and give the horses feet a break 

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Wow, I have never heard of rats eating hooves! But they do eat small insects and I know that dogs also like the taste of hooves (my dog would always eat them if she was at the barn when the farrier was working).
I own two pet rats and my vet once told me, that people used to keep rats in cages just to keep the other rats away. If they felt the smell of rats that don't belong to their herd, they would stay away from such territory. But I don't know how effective it is when there is such a large and settled population of wild rats.
You can also ask owners of small terriers to visit your barn and let them hunt. We have a West Highland White Terrier and a Yorkshire Terrier and they would hunt down my rats in seconds if they could ;)
Any other terrier from Section 1 and 2 of FCI Terrier Group would do the job too, probably. Or a dachshund.

Joe
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Good heavens.  My horses kill rats.

I wonder if you or the barn management have looked into the various rat baits that are out there that are claimed to lack secondary toxicity?  You normally put the baits into closed and latched containers with small rat and mouse sized passages into the poison chambers.  When we start having our periodic rat problems at our barn, we use those set-ups with good success.

Of course, more rats will move in over time, so you can't expect one treatment to last indefinitely.

We have four barn cats, BTW.  Due to coyotes, they are locked into the feed room every night.  That means the rats do most of their nocturnal work unmolested, but the feed room is rodent free.

oldboy
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I've had some luck repelling the rats from my horse by applying Alu-Shield (aerosol bandage) on his coronet bands.

I'm still working on safely expelling the rats!




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