This year New Zealand saw a mega mast, or a mass seeding event, when forests and other bits of greenery went wild and reproduced like furies.
Unfortunately, a mega mast means more food for pests as well, including rats, mice, stoats and possums and their populations boom accordingly. That's bad news for everyone, including native birds and smaller animals on the marauding pests' menu, as well as people living in the country whose houses and gardens are invaded by them.
The Department of Conservation has received more funding and is doing great work by dropping 1080 and setting up thousands of traps to knock down pest populations before they kill all bird life, and we should all support this.
There's the question of what to do when rats and other undesirables move into your property and create havoc, especially when the weather turns cold and food becomes scarce again.
Closing up rodent restaurants like compost bins is a start, and I've used spring-loaded traps that work and tried the gruesome Nooski one with a garroting rubber band which hasn't caught anything.
Poison works well but there's always the worry a pet will have a taste somehow, or that a rat will wander off and die somewhere else and get eaten by, for example, a hawk, which might get poisoned too and that'd be awful.
The common denominator with all these methods is that you don't really know what's happened until you see or smell what they've caught, and have to dispose of the corpses.
Segueing into the build-a-better-rat-trap territory is New Zealand's Goodnature, and they sent an A24 trap for rats and stoats, with Bluetooth and Near Field Communications (NFC) wireless connections to provide some information on how well the thing works.
The A24 is easy to assemble and feels sturdily built. It has survived being outdoors just fine since February this year. So it should, as it costs $199 for the Bluetooth-enabled trap, and $189 for the version with a counter and no wireless connectivity.
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You can add the chirp feature with Bluetooth to non-networked A24 traps, for $65. This gets you a lure plus an addition carbon dioxide canister plus a battery as well.
Trapper geeks can count kills with the Bluetooth connection, using Goodnature's Apple iOS or Google Android app, and get an exact time and date stamp, plus geolocation data.
When the trap triggers and you're within the range of the A24, a notification pops up on your smartphone. It's also possible to share trap data with others.
How well does it work, then? I put the A24 near where I had seen a happy ratty run around without a care in the world.
Placement is key for successful trapping, and Goodnature provides three rodent detector cards that you can fasten in areas where you suspect rats hang out, and check for gnaw marks.
Prior to the A24, I tried to trap a hugely annoying possum prancing around on the iron roof first thing and in the evenings. Placing the Timms trap nearby where the possum climbed up on the roof saw it ignored, despite being baited with delicious apple dusted with cinnamon.
However, the possum took it up a notch and moved into the roof of my house by literally breaking in to it. This time around I placed the Timms trap near the possum's entry hole on the roof, so that it would fall down to the ground when it triggered.
I had more success than expected as it was three big male possums rampaging on and in my roof, and managed to trap them one after the other at dusk when they popped out and were hungry.
This was quite exciting but not being fully acclimatised to country life, I disappointed a number of friends by not skinning the possums for their fur and chopping up the rest for dog tucker. There are limits you know.
Back to the A24, the idea is that the rodents stick their head into a little tube to have a sniff or taste of the lure, and get a CO2-powered pin hammered into their heads and fall out again. A dead pest becomes a feast for others, sometimes for its cannibal cousins, and the A24 is ready to trap again automatically.
That means you don't need to reset the A24, or re-bait it for six months. The battery for the Bluetooth last six months, and Goodnature advertises 24 strikes per CO2 canister (only one gas bottle is provided with the chirp A24, not two like with the non-networked traps; boo).
My A24 told the smartphone app it had registered nine humane kills. When I counted the actual number of kills in the app, it was seven. Perhaps the trap added some test firings as well? Each canister costs $7.50 or you can by 10 or more and get 10 per cent off.
Unlike the Timms trap, I've yet to see evidence of the A24's claimed kills. Maybe there are some particularly hungry and quick predators in my garden, or something else like invertebrates are triggering the trap?
Disappointing kill glitches aside, I'm sold on the idea of networked Internet of Things traps.
For larger pest-control efforts, such traps would provide data on how bad infestations are much quicker than having to manually check each one, and not having to reset them is a great feature.
We'll see how the A24 goes over the next few months with a CO2 refill and new lure, and I might set up a night-time camera to find out what beast is working overtime to dispose of the rat corpses.