I've got both an air rifle and a Terrier that is still a scourge on rats aged 14.I have some low stumps in the garden underneath a tree, and like a stupid fool I'd been putting stuff on them for the blackbirds and robins. Full on buffet.
Then I saw the first rat and kicked myself. Haven't put food near the ground since mid-February, but the little sods started climbing the pole up to the flat bit of my bird table. It's impressive. I actually quite like them. It's nice seeing wildlife, they aren't hurting anything, they're not in the garage or greenhouse or house or camping store... I moved into a house surrounded by fields. I can hardly whinge when my neighbours move in.
But also. There are rats in my garden. And my husband will def. leave me if I don't discourage them. When he was travelling, he stayed in many places infested with rats and cockroaches, and they were bold and destructive. He does not view them with the same fond fascination.
I have three feeders with a tray beneath now - one mealworm, one suet pellets, one mixed seed. I've taken the others down. I have a decent ground clear up crew in the two wood pigeons that hang out in my garden. I feel sad for them though as the flat feeder was theirs. Admittedly they don't look like they've ever known a day's hunger in their lives - they do NOT need me to feed them - but I liked watching them womble about and now they're not here nearly as often.
I'm glad you managed to get rid just by stopping feeding scraps. I'm hoping I have similar success here now there's no point climbing the bird table. I'd shoot them or get a terrier in, but not poison, and I'd rather not do any of it.
Which would you like posted down? (The air rifle will be lighter on your pocket as the terrier is a gannet!!)