One visitor who’s sure to spoil your enjoyment on a carping session is Mr Rat… you just can’t forget them once you know they’re around. Consequently all of our venues makes every effort to eradicate them, as any responsible owner would, and usually we get very few reports of rats.
However, over the last few weeks we’ve received more reports than normal so we thought we’d investigate a bit more. Turns out that the country folk in France are reporting a massive increase in rodent problems this year, particularly mice and rats.
City rats (aka sewer rats) are usually associated with waste and low standards of human hygiene. Field rats exist everywhere in the countryside and unlike their city cousins, they exist mainly on a diet of wild seeds and fruits. The extremely poor summer has meant that there has been a famine of autumn fruits and other wild seeds the rodents normally feed on. Apple orchards are completely bare where normally there would be countless apples on the ground at this time of year. There are no acorns on the ground and even the brambles have no blackberries on them. The result of this is that field rats are literally starving.
They say that in London you are never more than a few feet away from a sewer rat. The same is true in the country, although your field rat is likely to be many more yards away and is normally just quietly going about its business in the field next door.
Like snakes, mice and a host of other things that creep and crawl in the country, it’s usually only the owls who see them. The problem at the moment is that the field rats are heading straight for the smell of humans and their food and anger’s bait smells like easy pickings to a starving rat.
So if you are fishing in France this autumn, please take extra care with keeping bait in sealed containers and avoid leaving any trace on the ground. And if you do see a rat at a lake while you are fishing, please don’t just automatically assume that it’s the fault of slovenly lake owners or the previous anglers. It’s probably just field rats who can’t find a single berry to eat this year. Poor old Mr Rat.