One Year On And Still No Sign Of Rats On St Agnes

st agnesIt’s almost a year since the last rat was spotted on St Agnes and Gugh.

The work to eradicate the rodents from the two islands, in an effort to protect nesting seabirds, started at the end of last year.

Now islanders are being urged to remain vigilant for any signs of the animals returning, such as teeth marks on special wax pellets or sightings of their droppings.

They can ring a ‘Rat on a Rat’ hotline if they see anything and so far this year, the organisers have received eleven calls. All turned out to be false alarms.

In fact, it’s good news because the potential sightings were all Scilly shrews. Their numbers seem to be increasing since the demise of the rats.

Now in an effort to reduce errors, islanders have been issued with a ‘droppings crib sheet’ to help distinguish between the signs of rats and shrews.

This informs residents that ‘although Silly shrew droppings can be surprisingly big and as long (up to 16mm) as smaller rat droppings they are narrower in width.’

And because shrews only eat insects their droppings are ‘crumbly’ and ‘sandy’ and full of insect wings and bits of woodlice.

If any rat signs are spotted, the project team is ready to move in with special tracking tunnels, flavoured wax and a fifty station monitoring grid.

It’ll be another year without any confirmed sightings of rats before Agnes and Gugh can be officially pronounced rat-free.