Hartford Has a Rat Problem. Blame Chickens.

img_0396copyMany years ago I was rushing from a friend’s Hartford apartment to the car on a cold winter night. I tripped a little, and assumed I’d hit a bump in the sidewalk with the toe of my shoe. But my friend, who was walking behind me, yelled, “Oh my God. A rat!” Yes, dear readers, a rat had run between my feet as I was jogging to the car, and I’d unwittingly kicked the little guy. At this point I screeched, broke out into a full out run, and started scratching at the car door! I had to get out of there, and go home and shower for hours.

Then I spent years in New York City where rats are like furtive little squirrels. You see them hanging out on the train tracks, and they scare the bejesus out of you when you’re sitting in the park and you see one scurry into a tree grate out of the corner of your eye. This is all to say, I thought I was used to rats.

This summer proved me wrong. I was digging around in a friend’s West End basement looking for painting supplies. Just as she finished saying the words, “My neighbor says there’s been a rat down here…” we heard the tell tale squeak of a frightened rat. I turned on a dime and sprang up the basement stairs, and then up another flight of stairs to her apartment. Somewhere in there I hit my hand on something and scratched it all to hell. It’s a miracle I’m not dead.

I got to go home at the end of the day to a house patrolled by two cats, and a dog who isn’t afraid to murder small creatures–but my friend’s rat problem was just beginning. And she wasn’t the only one in the neighborhood having run-ins with vermin. She had a Templeton look-a-like expire under her kitchen sink. One of her neighbors found a dead rat on her front porch, and tales abounded of the West End infestation and people being stalked by huge, hungry beasts. They came for the children in the night, and ate all the quinoa. And legend has it, the West End chickens are the source of the problem.

Yes, people in Hartford’s hipster neighborhood are keeping backyard chickens, tossing feed everywhere, and helping the booming rat and mouse population. But I have a solution:

You just need more bad ass chickens. No fluffy little chicks with funny pom-pom feet. You need big, scary, hulking chickens with a taste for blood. You need the Jason Statham of chickens. Definitely not the Paul Rudd of chickens. If you’re too citified to deal with blood-thirsty chickens, then maybe you people, who want fresh eggs so badly you’re willing to cause an outbreak of plague, could at least try some of these tricks from RaisingHappyChickens.com:

  • Store all chicken feed in a secure container
  • Use a treadle feeder
  • Keep your coop and run clean (if not for your neighbors, than for your chickens)
  • Manage your compost heap
  • Keep your grass and shrubbery trimmed, especially around the coop