The cooler temps have arrived. That means the urban wildlife starts heading inside. Usually, they’re headed for the attic but the garden shed and garage will also be targeted. Rats, mice, squirrels, and raccoons are the most common critters you will encounter. For this discussion, let’s focus on rats and mice.
Wildlife needs food, water, and shelter to survive. Start by removing all food sources. This includes taking down the bird feeders (for about a month or so), picking up the uneaten dog food and dumping the water bowls, emptying the birdbath, and keeping the acorns picked up. If you keep pet food in the garage put it in a steel container. If you have a garden or swimming pool, there are predator scents that will work to run them off. This needs to be a group effort so make sure you talk to your neighbors about this.
Make it a habit to walk around your house (scouting) and to check for signs of critter damage. Any place they can get their teeth or claws into they will exploit. If you see evidence of a potential entry point, it’s time to identify the animal. It is much easier to stop an animal if you know what kind of animal it is. This is where game cameras come in. These cameras are available at Academy, Cabela’s, and similar stores. The good thing is, there are game cameras to fit almost every budget. Place it by the suspected area to see what is moving when you are not there. Once the animal is identified, the method you use to eliminate the intruder is more focused. Don’t forget to look in the garage for droppings. If they get in, it’s short work for them to chew through the sheetrock and there in the attic.
If you have them in the house, how do we get them out? It depends on where they are and what they are. Let’s presume they are rats or mice in the attic. The choice of weapons include rodenticides (poison), live and kill traps, fox or bobcat urine (predator scents), sonic deterrent devices (I’m not a fan) or just let them be (not a fan of that either).
Rodenticides fall into two categories: anticoagulants and non-anticoagulants. The term you need to remember is “secondary kill capability.” Anticoagulants affect blood clotting and have a very high secondary kill capability. They will kill anything that eats it. They will also kill any animal that eats a dead or dying rat that has eaten an anticoagulant rodenticide. Common fatalities of this secondary kill include hawks, owls, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, dogs, and cats. The anticoagulants we carry are Just On Bite, Tomcat Place PAC, and Jaguar Bait Chunk.
Non-anticoagulants are neurotoxins. They affect brain function targeting rodents and have a very low secondary kill capability. Here at the store, we sell livestock feed, deer feed, grains, wild bird feed, and pet food. Did you know that we sell dog and cat food? And we have a creek on the south side of the store. So we wage war on them by any means or methods. The rodenticide we use is Tomcat Chunks, a non-anticoagulant rodenticide in bait stations. We also sell Prowler Soft Bait rodenticide.
Traps are next on the list. I prefer the kill traps, hands down, to the live traps. The best bait we have found is Planters nuts. Lots of oil and salt get them almost every time. The trick is to bait the trap but don’t set it. Let them eat the bait for a couple of days, then set the trap. If you go with a live trap and intend to set them free, remember a rat would not give you the same courtesy. Don’t release them in an area that turns them into someone else’s problem. Setting them free in Valhalla is the desired environment.
Predator scents like fox, coyote, and bobcat urine are the most common. Over the last twenty or so years, bobcat urine has become a close second to fox urine. To use these scents properly you need to know the location of the entry point. Because rats and mice are nocturnal, you will be applying these scents at night near the entry point from the inside. Scent applicators (a cotton ball in a plastic bottle with holes in it) with the pee in them, are placed around the entry point. Rats will think there is a fox, coyote, or bobcat in there and they will go somewhere else. Because almost every house is different, how you gain access to that entry point can be its own challenge. As always, read and follow the label directions.