The Amos Farm by Christian Torp
DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this article is to be taken as a potential solution for any problem you may have, it is for informational and amusement purposes only. Rodents are vectors for disease, known to bite children’s faces due to food residue and because their jaws are similar to an alligator’s can bite with as much as 7,000 psi. force. Keep children away from areas where rodents may be present, always wear gloves when handing rodents, traps or bait, obtain proper training from your local extension office before attempting to tackle any rodent problem.
“If they are not eating, rats are usually having sex,”
Robert Sullivan, Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants.
I hate to say it, but this article IS about the mammal and not the usage of the phrase, but at least you can blame rats on colonialism- ‘cause what you picture in your mind is exactly what we’ll be talking about and with the cold weather here, the little buggers would like to join you for Christmas, just like they stole away on ships to get to the new world (both Rats and Mice are of old world origin). To be more specific, your mental image is almost certainly of a Norway/Brown/Sewer Rat (rattus norvegicus), originally native to Northern China or a Black/Roof/Ship/House Rat (rattus rattus), originally native to Tropical Asia.
Next thing, to fix a problem you need a potential solution, a strategy and tactics and tools to carry out your plan. My pest control strategies are based on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles which seek to integrate appropriate, economical and humane pest control techniques emphasizing the least possible disruption to the ecosystems and encouraging natural pest control mechanisms. Moreover, I do not use pesticides due to my concern for introducing toxins into the food chain.
Finally, mice and rats don’t really exist in nature, they exist only in parasitic relation to humans.
MANAGING A RAT/MOUSE PROBLEM
Three elements are necessary for a successful rodent elimination strategy, no tactic alone will work.
Remove landscape plants to expose ground and discourage rodent travel around your home. Remove leaves, mulch from building foundations. Keep wood/brush or debris piles at least 100’ from dwellings. Garbage/Compost/Food waste should be in rodent proof containers or at least 100’ from dwellings. Fill all borrows will appropriate filler such as mortar. Keep all animal feed in rodent proof containers.
2) Building Construction/Rodent Proofing
A mouse can squeeze through a hole 1/4” in diameter, a rat has a collapsable skeleton and can get through anything it’s head will fit through. Plug those holes, Brown Rats are burrowers, Black Rats are climbers, they’ll get you either way. And this will really get you, but brown rats can actually swim through your pipes and invade your home through your toilet… and there’s nothing you can do about that- unless you’d prefer an outhouse, ‘cause rats can swim for 3 days and hold their breath for 3 minutes!!!
3) Population Control
The most inhumane way to control pests is the sticky or glue trap, it may be easy, it may be no fuss, no muss and “out of sight, out of mind” but it’s a slow death by dehydration and you’re either throwing a live animal in the trash or you have to do the killing yourself. Secondly, rodents have a keen sense of smell, always wear gloves while handling traps. Finally, if you’ve noticed your kitty staring, that may be a clue.
Baits: Anything they’ll eat, peanut butter, lard, jelly, bacon grease, raw meat, nuts… etc.
Snap Traps: Why reinvent the mouse trap? They work, they’re cheap and they’re easy but placement is everything- you can catch a rodent with an unbaited trap that’s set along one of their routes while a trap in the wrong place won’t work no matter the bait. They’re are also creatures of habit and wary of new things, remember that.
First find where their thoroughfares are (droppings, grease stains against walls from their fur, chew marks where they’ve been, etc.). Select your traps, handle them only with gloves and wire them open. Bait. Wait a week/10 days, rebaiting them every time the bait is taken. Remove wire and rebait. Win. For the ultimate chance in getting the alpha male here’s how it’s done: set three traps, wired open side by side on rat road. Rebait every time the bait is taken. Again after a week/10 days unwire the middle trap, leaving the outer two wired open. Win.
Live Traps: Okay, but what are you going to do with ‘em?
Electronic Traps: A newer invention, but mice and rats especially love to eat electrical cords, they’ve even been known to eat lead pipes. I imagine washing/disinfecting electrical traps to free them of sent is also more bothersome.
Cats: Are better than people and more than up to the job but there are documented instances where it was rats eating cat instead of the other way around. Rats are also disease carriers so cats are a good bulwark, not a solution.
Yummy yummy yummy, in the Mishmi culture of India rats are essential to the traditional diet and the Musahar community in North India has commercialized rat farming as an exotic delicacy.