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Vet’s ‘horror’ as she watched rats chewing mare’s hooves in stable

A US vet was “horrified” to capture an “urban legend” on video as she discovered rats chewing her mare’s hooves in footage that has gone viral.

Equine vet Jill Costello Chavers, based in Ocala, Florida, had recently moved the position of her yard CCTV cameras and on checking the footage on 3 January, she saw rats entering her 22-year-old Hanoverian mare Hanna’s stable.

Jill, who specialises in lameness work, told H&H she was watching the footage when she caught a glimpse of “two little bright eyes”. In the video two rats can be seen moving around the stable and chewing on Hanna’s hooves.

“I’ve never seen rats in the stalls. We finished building the barn last year and I’m neurotic about keeping it clean so it was a little bit horrifying to see it,” she said.

“Being in Florida it’s pretty warm most of the year. Our barns are built to be really open and airy so we can stay as cool as we can in the summer, so there’s lots of nooks and crannies for them to get into. Rats are so little and good at getting into anywhere.”

Jill said Hanna’s heel bulbs were a little red but she was unharmed and is “absolutely fine”.

“I’ve now set up electric traps and put bell boots on Hanna. The horses in the other stalls were wearing bell boots and hadn’t been touched so I’m not sure if that helped,” she said.

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“I would like to get barn cats but we have very bold coyotes here so unfortunately it’s difficult to keep cats because the coyotes will sometimes come and grab them.

“I haven’t seen any rats on camera since but a tabby cat has been hanging about so he has maybe scared them off.

“I’ve heard farriers talk about rats chewing horses’ hooves and I’ve seen pictures of rats chewing horses’ chestnuts when they’re lying down but I don’t know anyone that has seen it actually happen. I thought it was a bit of an urban legend.”

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