The reason I write so much about this subject is that Plano, Allen, Richardson and the rest of the North Texas area are overrun with these critters. Some months are worse than others but they are always around. This is not a hygiene issue, it’s an environmental issue. Remember that wildlife needs food, water and shelter to survive. We have all three in north Texas. Here in the Wells Brothers warehouse (full of feed and next to a creek) we wage war on them. We trap them, shoot them, poison them and have cats that hunt for sport. Some months it seems like a never ending fight. A lot of our customers have the same problem but to a much lesser degree.
Trying to keep the rats and mice out of your backyard is considered a career move. So what you need to do is to alter the environment so they go to your neighbor’s yard instead. You should start by limiting their access to food. Take down the bird feeders for a month or so. Move all pet food out of the garage and into the house. If you have a pet door, lock it closed. I have heard stories of everything from mice to coyotes coming through pet doors. They are looking for food, not a fight. Securing dog food is critical if you are using rodenticides (poison). Poisons are an option but should be considered as the last option. The main reason is that poisons can kill non-targeted species, especially the birds of prey. If a non-targeted species gets poisoned, the antidote for most of the rodenticides is vitamin K. Please read and follow the labeled instructions.
Reducing the availability of water is the next step. Bird baths, water features, saucers for potted plants and rain cutters are where you start. Dump them, drain them and clean them. If you have a swimming pool, well, best of luck.
Shelter is where the work really starts. Thin out densely packed shrub beds. Look for access points around the house and garage, shed, deck and pump housing. What you are looking for is a hole slightly larger than a quarter. Before you seal any holes make sure the offending creature is gone. You don’t want to trap them inside. They’ll just chew another way out. How do you get them out? Well you can trap them, shoot them, poison them and get cats that hunt for sport. Or you can use liquid fox urine, an electronic predator call or sonic pest chasers. They all work but some are better suited to a particular environment. Fox urine, historically has the best track record but I wouldn’t put it in the garage. I do use it in the attic. Plugging entry holes is a science unto itself. Small holes can be plugged with a copper mesh called Stuff It. It comes in a 25 foot roll for $19.89. For large damaged sections do yourself a favor and don’t use wood. The replacement product of choice is a fiber cement product called Hardie Board. Critters can’t chew through it.
Keeping them out of structures is better than getting them to leave. As effective as fox urine is, it’s not practical to apply it over the entire property. Remember that we are trying to make it so tough that they go someplace else. That brings me to our highly artistic (sarcasm) wood fences. This is the freeway system of our enemy. If we can keep them off the fences they are easier prey for the predators. The tool for such an undertaking is the carpet tack strip. A thin piece of wood with tacks on one side that is nailed to the floor and used for holding carpet. Nail them to the top of the fence (tacks up) as a travel barrier. It will also work for squirrels. The tack strips Wells Brothers sell are 48 inches long and cost $.75 each. Remember that we can win this battle because they have no thumbs.