Sunday, July 10, 2016

'Critters' Explained

Lately I've referred to  having trouble with 'critters.'  I haven't written much more because I didn't know enough about it for a full post.  Still don't know as much as I'd like, but the current situation seems to be resolved enough for reflection.

DSCF4845Several weeks ago I noticed holes dug in the strip of grass that I have between ours and neighbor Dave's house.  I knew Dave had issues with moles in the past so I asked him about it, and wound up borrowing his deterrent, a device that you put into the ground that emits a sound at intervals, every 30 seconds or so.  And you want it in tightly to better conduct the sound through the earth.

Now a little back story.  There have been news articles recently about a rat infestation near here, 6 or more blocks away in the dumpster at a fast food joint.  The house behind it found about 300 rats taking up residence under their garage, with tunnels to the dumpster area.  Steps have been taken in those situations by now but the articles mentioned things like putting your garbage away, how they like open compost and wood piles, and how chicken coops can attract them - and we have a few neighbors with chickens.

Then, that same evening that I borrowed neighbor Dave's sonic device, neighbor Jane on the other side told me about seeing a rat in her back yard the day before.  That changed my thinking a little bit.  And it made me think of how even when we had the netting over the strawberry plants the berries were disappearing before we knew they were there.  Thinking that maybe rats were stealing them creeped me out.  I was already going to buy some type of small animal repellent, now I was going to add rat poison to my list.  That night I ordered rat poison and small animal repellent online and it arrived by the time I got home from work the next day.  Very impressive, Amazon.

DSCF4846So I spent a few days putting out the poison chunks down every hole I found, about 4 by the side of the house and a couple in the back yard between the garden and the compost bin.  Neighbor Jane threw about a dozen on the other side of her fence near where she saw the rat.  We did not want any in Jane's yard because of her dogs.  After a few days of this, checking the chunks I put out and replacing many, I came home from work and put 5 out behind and around the compost bin.  Nothing had been getting into the bin but it was near the holes in back and pretty out of the way in the small spaces between the bin and the fences.  Less than a half hour later I went back to check and all 5 had disappeared.  It was then I decided that was enough, I wouldn't put out any more poison because I still was not sure what I was poisoning.  When Jane got home I even went over to make sure partial poison baits did not get dragged over there, where the dogs could get at them.  Thankfully I didn't find anything, but 5 gone that fast is pretty crazy.

DSCF4844The sonic device was seemingly having no effect, so the next day I removed it and filled the holes.  The following day all the holes had been reopened, even the hole that I had made just for that sonic device.  I sprinkled the repellent around the area again and left it for a few rainy days.  Eventually I went out to refill the holes again.  This time I sprinkled in the small animal repellent into the hole, refilled the hole, and sprinkled more repellent on the filled in holes and some in the whole area, and did the same to one area in back.

Now, several days later, the refilled holes have not been disturbed.  The 'critter' situation seems to be under control once again, even though I don't know exactly what it was.  Really, I never even saw anything, alive or dead, in these areas, only the evidence of activity.  Who knows what goes on in my yard when I'm not looking?  I'm sure the cats have a pretty good idea, but they don't seem interested in cluing me in at all.


Scoakat said...

I published the article yesterday and when I got home today one of the 5 holes along the house has been re-opened. 90ºF and super humid out, so I covered them with rocks for now.

delcatto said...

Rats sound plausible - intelligent creatures and hard to eradicate. If you know anyone with small terriers, particularly Jack Russells, invite them round once the poison has all gone.

Scoakat said...

I think beside the house is chipmunks, or ground squirrels. I know there are empty areas under neighbor Dave's - very old - concrete walkway, eroded over time with water seepage. And they have been known to get in there, just not via our property before, that I know.

In back there has been no more real issues since. The back property line may be some kind of small animal highway, however. Three houses east is a creek, three houses west are chicken coops. Just as long as they never, ever get in our house!

Blue Witch said...

Do your blocks have holes in? If not, can you get bocks with holes in there?

If so, thread them onto a thickish wire (a bit of cut up wire coathnger is good) and tie them to something. Rats will keep taking poison to store, and not eat it, unless yu force them. Good luck!

They say that in urban areas you are never more than 6 feet from a rat... probably worse than that in more rural places.

Sorry, hope I haven't given you nightmares. Now you know why we have so many outdoor cats!

Scoakat said...

Hi BW! I'm done with the poison for now. And I think we're just fine. My response may have been an overreaction. Rats may be around sometimes, but so may be rabbits, mice, voles, moles, chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons, opossums and more. None pose an immediate threat.
We are all just another part of our ecosystem - until it messes up my lawn! LOL