So this is disgusting, but apparently there’s a big old rat problem in our county. Not mice, but rats. Big Fat Rats. As you may know we have (had) a pretty cool squirrel-proof bird feeder in one of our gardens. I loved watching our birds feed from it until one night in May when I looked out around dusk and there was a big fat rat chowing down under the feeder. The feeder was removed the next day.
We thought the rats would move out once our bird feeder was removed, but our rat incident hit at the time of a perfect storm. Apparently our neighbors had and rat problem under their addition (they got into the a/c duct work in their house from there!!) and had managed to get the rats out, evicting them and sending them in search of a new home. The area under our shed turned out to be a great spot to settle. Rats.
We called a company out to evaluate the problem and thankfully they hadn’t entered our house or the inside of the shed. We thought we’d take matters into our own hands and set out some bait stations and a couple of traps. But when I had a staring contest with a rat in broad daylight (they’re more nocturnal) as I was walking to my car (I stepped toward him and he took off under my office, YIKES!) and then when we chopped the head off a chipmunk with a trap, instead of a rat, I knew something more had to be done.
I called the pest control company and made an appointment to set up our house with bait stations like you see along the back sides of grocery store exteriors. Big black things that are tamper proof for kids, dogs and other pets, but full of poison that the rats eat at the stations themselves.
The week after the pest company came out to set the stations Feeney caught a rat. A big fat disgusting rat. S told him to “leave it,” he dropped it and S finished it off with a nearby cinder block to the rat's head. It makes me want to lose my lunch thinking of it. We had guests at the time. Shudder. After that the pest company doubled up their efforts, coming out every other week for no additional charge.
We’ve made a few changes around the Hive too, per recommendations from our county. Rats live both indoors and outdoors, but ours is an outdoor problem (thank goodness!) Outdoors they live: under wood piles or lumber that is not often used; under bushes, vines, and in tall grasses that are not trimmed or cut back; under rocks in the garden; in cars, appliances, and furniture that has been put outside and is no longer being used; in and around trash and garbage that has been left on the ground; in holes under buildings. So to keep rats at bay these are some of the tips our county provides:
• Stack fire wood 18 inches off the ground and away from all buildings.
• Birdhouses and seed should be on poles and in trays rats can't get at.
• Keep garbage cans covered tightly.
• Plant bushes so they will stay at least 3 feet from your house.
• Keep yards and alleys clean. Take junk to the dump!
• If you feed them, they will stay. Pick up fruit and vegetables in your yard.
• Do not compost any animal products (fish, meat, chicken, cheese, butter).
• Use only rodent resistant compost bins.
• In basements, keep any food in closed containers that rats can't chew through.
• Cover all openings to your house. Rats can get into very small places.
• Do not leave your pet food outside. If your pet doesn't eat it, the rats will.
• Roof rats get into your house from tree branches that hang over the roof. Keep trees cut back and cover any openings in the eaves.
• Keep rats out of your sewer pipes! Rats live in sewers and can follow the food in pipes up to your toilet. (OMG!!!!)
• Keep your kitchen sink rinsed clean and use garbage disposals as little as possible.
• Rinse out your kitchen sink once or twice a month with 1 cup of bleach and boiling water. (As an alternative to bleach, use 1 cup of baking soda followed by 1 cup of vinegar.)
• Never throw grease down the drain.
• Keep your toilet lid down when not in use.
• If you find a rat in your toilet, flush it! (Hint: squirt a little dishwashing liquid under the lid into the bowl, wait a couple of minutes, then flush.)
OMG dishwshing liquid!?! To make the rat slippery so it flushes!?!? I've definitely lost my lunch.
Our rat population is dwindling and probably would so even more, if our second neighbor, whose shed is in serious disrepair, would join in the battle. Alas, they’re not concerned with the problem, so for now we’re fattening the neighborhood rats on some serious rat caviar and sending them to the sewers in search of water. It’s so disgusting.
Any experience with these unwanted guests?