Rat issues? Use caution with poisons!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

by Kristina Kelley

When temperatures get cold, rodents (not unlike any other animal) search out warmer areas to nest. Garages, crawl spaces, walls and vehicle engine compartments are ideal locations as they are warm, dry, and void of predators. Rodents by nature chew to file their teeth and can cause significant damage to wiring, insulation, storages boxes, and anything made of rubber.

If you need to get rid of an existing rodent problem, professional exterminators can help in severe cases. Wildlife agencies recommend ammonia-soaked rags which will deter most mammals from an area such as a crawl space. Poison is an option, but many people do not know that rodenticides (rat poison) can kill a pet far more easily than one might think.

Today’s rodenticides do not discriminate and can attract all mammals including dogs, cats, rabbits and squirrels, as well as birds. Some poison available is enhanced with peanut butter, molasses and sugar to further attract animals. If a pet consumes poison there may not be any symptoms for a week or more. Rodenticides do not cause “sick” symptoms, they cause internal hemorrhaging and the problem can be difficult for a veterinarian to diagnose. If a cat catches a mouse that has been weakened by poison, the same danger applies. Most rodenticides have green dye in them. Fecal matter that is bright green in color is an indicator that the animal has been poisoned.
The least expensive and most effective way to get rid of rodents is to trap them or deter them. Spring loaded traps and boxes work well and can be re-used. Disposing of a carcass is not particularly appealing, but at least it will be the carcass you are after, not a curious bystander who is otherwise innocent. If you choose not to kill the offender, car manufacturer research has found Tapatillo sauce repels rodents better than any other product tested. Peppermint oil and Downy sheets will also do the same.

While rodents are a part of the world we live in, there are several things one can do to reduce the likelihood of having one live in your home or car. Do not leave food of any kind in your car – this includes dog treats. Keep your trash well contained and the area free of debris and hiding places. Keep your garage free of clutter and block small entrances. Pet food and grain products can attract rodents from far away so be sure they are stored as air-tight as possible. Check under your hood and around your home periodically and look for droppings. If you see them, it is time to re-assess your preventive measures.

Photos by asplosh, david55king, qwrrty

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