Wildlife Trust Keeping Uninhabited Islands Rat-Free

wildlife trust rat motels

Trust staff building the ‘rat motels’

The Isles of Scilly Wildlife will try a new approach to keeping the uninhabited islands rat-free.

Six years after an eradication programme started, staff still need to monitor movements by the rodents as they can swim over from most inhabited islands.

Rats are culled because they threaten seabird colonies and a project also began this year to remove the rodents from the inhabited islands of St Agnes and Gugh.

The Wildlife Trust is putting small boxes containing a bait of wax mixed with chocolate on the uninhabited islands next year.

It’s the first time this method has been used and Trust Warden David Mawer hopes the so-called ‘rat motels’ will be very effective in protecting the seabird colonies from rodents that steal their eggs.

Staff have built 30 at the Trust’s Trenoweth workshop.

Even though the rats have been eradicated once, the Trust still have to keep culling any rodents that cross from other islands when the conditions are right.

They’ve been monitoring the rats behaviour so they can discover how the islands get re-infested

David says the rodents can swim well and will happily eat food from the shoreline like limpets.

The boxes are very attractive for the rodents and it will make it easier to spot them if they’re trying to recolonize the area.

Every year they see some rats getting back, although David says the Eastern Isles seem to have remained rat-free.

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