Thursday, November 10, 2016

Taught by Rats

The summer rains were late this year, but very heavy. Everything that could germinate, bloom and produce seeds, did. As a result, we've had a bumper crop of pack rats as well. We learned this the hard way when my husband was having some trouble with his truck. Seems the pack rats had munched on $400-worth of wiring. This was our first such experience in more than 20 years of living here.

So we began taking more serious anti-rodent measures. First was keeping the hood raised when the truck was parked, and ensuring the truck was moveddaily, even if only a few feet. Because our dog loves chasing and catching small animals, poison is not an option for us. Mouse traps were placed below the vehicle. After the second trap disappeared, Dear Hubby wired them to somewhat flat surfaces in the engine compartment of the vehicle.  Still, no luck.

At the time, we had no concept of pack rats being significantly different from mice, at least size-wize. I had seen their burrows, but never the actual critter. After seeing one caught by a neighbor, we changed strategies. The body of the rat was a good 6 inches long, and the well-fed rascal was at least three inches in diameter. This was a horse, uh rat, of a different color.

Next came removal of brush piles and moving lumber storage to remove rat havens. The missing mouse traps were found in one of the small brush piles.

Bring on the rat traps. Yes, real, big traps. No, we did not go the have-a-heart rodent relocation route. The reasonable potential for rodent- or flea-borne disease here in the mountains of the southwestern US was not an acceptable risk. We chose the big plastic traps that operate like big, mean clothespins. The brand may be 'A better mousetrap' or something similar. We chose these because of the sanitary issues. You can release the deceased rodent and re-set the trap without touching the business end. When baiting with peanut butter, we use clean disposable utensils kept from adventures in fast food, then throw them away after one use because they contact the business end of the trap.

Today, we hit paydirt -- a lovely, well-fed 5 or 6 inch packrat (excluding tail length). We will continue with this strategy until the food chain returns our furry friends to the normal balance.

Morale of our story is to have both rat and mouse traps in your supplies if your preparedness is designed to cover events that may last several weeks.

Have you had rat-stravaganzas in your location?


  1. No rats here; just *$#!@*?""%*$ GOPHERS! I HATE gophers! Most of the traps, gassers, and baits are designed more to catch consumers than gophers. One method of dispatch works better than most; I took an old lawn edger, removed the muffler, and replaced it with a 1/2" pipe fitting. To that I attached a flexible gas line; the kind you use to connect a gas water heater to the service. You dig out the gopher hole, shove the bitter end of the gas line down there, and pack dirt around it tight (wetting the soil helps if it's really dry). Run the edger for about an hour. Anything caught in that tunnel is dead once you're done. The edger cost me about $15.00 at a yard sale. The flexible gas line cost me a buck, also at a yard sale (I buy these whenever they turn up at a yard sale; they don't last forever carrying hot exhaust, and cost about $12.00 new). 'Works almost every time...

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