There are an estimated seven billion rats in the world. A number of them make their home on the wooded hillside behind the school. They are, for better or worse, a natural part of the ecosystem.
Being scavengers, rats are not particular about what they eat, but those in our neighborhood discovered quail food in the Seven Circles Garden to be a tasty and readily available feast. But no more.
Garden teacher Adrienne Wallace added chili powder to the quail food. Quail can’t taste the spiciness in chili powder, but rats do, and they want nothing to do with it. Problem solved!
Additionally, research shows that chili powder can help warm the quail in the colder months, keeping them more comfortable, and increase their egg laying during the winter. Capsaicin—the chemical that gives chili peppers their heat—can also help boost their immune system.
Along with chili powder, Adrienne added oregano, lemon balm, and yarrow—all grown and dried in the garden—to the quails’ diet to help keep them healthy.
(Rat trivia: A group of rats is called a mischief.)