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Hunting rats with terriers

hunting rats with terriers

Most of us are terrified of rats. Just the mere mention of them is enough for some people to start running for the door. Small skittish pests, they urinate everywhere, spread disease, deplete our food supply, cause destruction, and impact our wildlife. But at Project Multi Pest we have turned the tables and now have these fearsome foes running in the opposite direction instead. But what is our secret weapon?

As an ever-increasing number of rats become resistant to poison and too canny to step foot in a trap, we need to look for alternative solutions. A more natural, yet highly effective method for ridding our cities of rats, is to bring in the dogs.

Dogs can not only offer us company and companionship but provide us with one of the most successful and humane forms of pest control. But which dogs make the best hunters and are rats really that easily deterred? Below we explain more about the infamous battle of the rat versus dog.

Jack Russell Terrier
Jack Russell Terriers are perfect for catching rats and humanely getting rid of them.

The history behind using dogs to catch rats

Dogs have a long and proven history with rat catching, harking back to the 19th century.

Stars of the trenches, Jack Russell Terriers were nibble dogs that were sent to fight the war against rats, leaving the soldier’s disease free to fight on the battlefields. The YMCA also used small terriers to distribute free cigarettes to the troops.

Dogs were also used during the Victorian era in London, as this overpopulated city became overrun with rats. Sanitation levels were low, and the threat of disease was high so rat catching dogs became in-demand to keep citizens safe from harm.

Is ratting with dogs illegal in the UK?

Hunting rats with dogs is legal in the UK under the 2004 hunting act and is in fact a far more humane method of pest control than killing with poison.

A dog will kill a rat within a matter of seconds, whilst it can take poison up to 3-4 days to take effect, causing the rodent a slow and painful death.

Rat poison has changed little over the decades and are therefore becoming increasingly ineffective, with many rats building up immunity to them. This is why you cannot beat the traditional method of trapping rats with terriers, after all the surprise attack is quick and the ending highly efficient.

What dogs are used for ratting?

Although dogs have been used for centuries to hunt vermin, it takes a specific type of dog to succeed at hunting rats!

There are certain breeds of dog that were especially created to control the rat population. Most of these breeds are different kinds of Terriers.

This is because Terriers are the most super-efficient breed for catching rats – and that is not just us being bias. Small in body, yet long in leg they can dig and burrow which makes for an easy game of rat hide and seek. These small, wiry dogs are fast, agile, and strong, but above all, they are tenacious. So no matter how much of a fight these pests put up, a terrier never gives in.

And finally, a dog does not just need a tail to wag. Oh no, Terriers have thick tails which can be used to pull them out from tight spaces if required.

our rat catching dogs
Our terriers are well trained in catching rats.

What is the best dog for catching rats?

At Project Multi-Pest we use our Parson Russell Terriers (Gracie and Monty), to flush out rats and keep your property pest free.  Personally, we believe that these two dogs are the best in the business.

True working terriers, this breed was pioneered by the avid fox hunter, Reverend John Russell, in the late 18th century so catching smaller animals such as rats and mice is one of their basic instincts.

Other terriers that make excellent ratters include:

  • Patterdale Terrier. This dog gained notoriety in the north of England as a hunting terrier and is often used for badger control in addition to other pests.
  • Bedlington Terrier. This dog was named after a village in Northumberland and was originally bred to hunt vermin.
  • Norwich Terrier. This is one of the smallest breeds of terrier which makes them particularly stealth for catching rats and foxes.
  • Manchester Terrier. This dog breed was bred in Manchester specifically for ratting and rabbiting and loves the thrill of a good chase.
  • Jagd Terrier. Originating from Germany, these distinctive black and tan terriers were used for hunting game both above and below ground.
  • Yorkshire Terrier. One of the most popular breeds of terrier, these playful, yappy dogs were historically used to capture vermin.
  • Cairn Terrier. One of the oldest terrier breeds, the Cairn have hundreds of years’ experience in catching rodents. This dog gets its name from the hunting quarry between the Cairns in the Scottish Highlands.
  • West Highland White Terrier. Cousin to the Cairn Terrier, the Westie was bred to hunt small rodents at places such as farms. Today, this intelligent dog is an extremely popular pet.
  • Lakeland Terrier. This terrier originates from the Lake District and its size and energy levels make them ideal for hunting rodents in hard to reach places.

So as you can see, the terrier may be the ultimate country house companion, but they are also stars of the ratting world.

You will often find that a lot of pest control companies will use breeds based on their geographical heritage. That is why in the north of the UK, the Bedlington Terrier holds sway whilst down south, Parson Jack Russell Terriers command the title of leader of the pack.

How does canine rat abatement work?

When it comes to dealing with a live rat situation, there is no beating a traditional rat catching dog.

Dogs make the best rat catchers, due to their precision and speed. Quite often we can smell a rat (thanks to their unmistakable acrid, stale, pungent urine) but fail to ever see them. But, with a sense of smell that is 40 times stronger than ours, it does not take long for a rat catching dog to sniff out the vermin.

Eradicating any animal is not nice, but when a rat is killed by a dog, it is natural and over within seconds compared to other drawn out methods. Due to the growing resistance to rodenticides and consumer concerns about chemical products, we passionately believe that using dogs to catch rats and other rodents is the most humane form of pest control.

Why use Project Multi-Pest for rat control using dogs?

At Project Multi-Pest we may be experts in controlling rodents, but when it comes to killing them, we are amateurs compared to our dogs Gracie and Monty. Able to flush rats and mice out of walls and crevasses, they will cleanly dispatch of them in seconds, making our service one of the most humane ways to clear an infestation.

Whilst both our beautiful dogs have lovely natures and are safe around children and other animals, they are the perfect nemeses for rats and have both been trained to the highest standards in the art of rodent hunting. So, when we send them on a rat finding mission it is important that nothing stands in their way!

If you’ve spotted a rat in your kitchen, garden or on your business premises, then call Project Multi Pest immediately to request an emergency rat response visit.

Picture of Matthew Blackwell

Matthew Blackwell

Matt is an experienced and professional pest control technician and falconer serving London and Kent.

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About Project Multi Pest
PMP is an experienced pest control company serving the London and Kent areas. It’s owned and operated by Matthew Blackwell. For pest control advice please call or use our website contact form.

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