In reply to TrishC:
If you can learn to tolerate squirrels, and let them make your garden their territory. They will end your rat problem overnight. They do not tolerate rats, and easily kill them. They are must more ruthless than cats and a similar size and faster. Rats have no chance. I would suggest hanging monkey nuts from your washing line. and in other extremely hard to reach places beyond even a rats reach. Once the squirrels move in, no more rats.
My Flickr photos
In reply to Alan.:
Who couldn't love a face like that LOL
Don't answer that Wendy LOL.
2013 photos & vids here
eff37 on Flickr
Looks like you've found a solution Anita.
In passing, if you hang your feeders (although that means trees, of course) it's easy (and cheap) to rig up your own spillage tray under the feeder.
One of our feeders uses a square tray (very cheap; meant to go under a big square plant pot). Make a couple of loops of string/rope so that they span the square diagonally and the tray sits in them; the two loops cross under the feeder. Then hang these loops over a tree branch, each with an additional length of string/rope. One added plus is that this makes it very easy to adjust the tray in any direction. So, if you have snow for example.
On Sparrowhawks, an acquaintance tells me that one year they had a female raid the garden daily; she spent her time while not eating on a heating cistern next to the house. To gain a fraction of a second on the hunt, she would---apparently---fly through a square aperture in some wooden garden trellis, rather than around/over it.
Now that's a bird that deserves our respect. To my mind anyhow.
All the best -
We spend 90% of net income on conservation, public education and advocacy
The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International. Find out more about the partnership
© The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654