By Chris Adams
A gardener’s eye-opening night-time footage captured his epic 10-day battle to stop a rat from invading his bird feeder table – with the clever rodent even learning to climb a tree to dodge anti-vandal paint.
Cameras set up in Harry McBride’s back garden show how the inquisitive rat would scale the pole of the bird feeder in order to pinch food in the dead of night.
The furry visitor soon learnt how to get around a dustbin lid Harry had put in place to stop his adventures, then outsmarted the retired scientist again by finding a new route to the top via a nearby hedge.
But Harry soon claimed victory by moving the bird feeder further away from the hedge – though not before the rat suffered a spectacular fall trying to conquer it one last time.
Harry, 59, from Iwerne Minster, Dorset, said: “They’re smart little creatures. I thought I would never stop him.
“I’ve always had the camera up but I didn’t realise quite the lengths the rat would go to.
“When I lived on Kent I used to get a lot of hedgehogs and foxes so when I moved to Dorset I just kept all the gear.
“I’ve never seen a few here though, all I get is rats. It’s fascinating to watch and it shows you just how intelligent they are.
“I’ve had the bird table up for a while but last year I noticed the food was getting nicked every now and then so I kept an eye on the cameras.
“They revealed what the rats were up to. They’re tricky customers. Without the cameras I wouldn’t have know at all.
“I’ll be honest, I don’t really want the rats there so initially I put the lid on the table to stop them getting to the top.
“That worked for two nights but then it figured out how to do a back-flip and and pull himself over it so I had to think again.”
Harry’s crusade against the rat began on April 17 when the bird table was situated about 1.5m from a nearby tree and hedge.
He tried various methods of prevention before his infra-red footage finally revealed the rat had given up trying to scale the feeder on April 27.
Harry said: “After he conquered the lid I realised I had to stop him getting a grip.
“I covered the base of the bird feeder pole with anti-vandal paint from top to bottom and again that worked for a night.
“Then it came back again and realised it could climb the tree beside the table and launch itself on to the top. It fell a few times but that didn’t seem to put it off.
“It was a real war of attrition. I call it the battle of the bird table. My only choice was to move the table further away.
“I put it out to about 2.3m from the hedge and although it still climbed the tree a couple of times, it realised that was too far to jump. It hasn’t been up since.
“It’s really interesting to watch. They’ve obviously got processing skills. That’s why so many things intended for humans are tested on rats.
“It’s interesting for me to watch as a scientist. The cameras are also helpful because I suffer from occasional insomnia.
“I get woodpigeons, blackbirds and gullcrests who want to eat from that table. I think I’ve won, for now.”