“Hi Kari, what are your suggestions for rat problems?” Thanks, David.
Hi David! What a great question! Your question allows me to highlight not only practical solutions for your problem, but to also speak to some issues very important to me, namely, ecologic and environmental factors where we can have a positive impact simply from how we operate our buildings.
Often when we think of rodent control, we think poisoning. Poisoning has been the traditional option for decades and has a decent rate of success towards the problem at its
surface. The issue I have with poisoning is its larger effect on the local ecology. What happens is a rat ingests this
poison and dies (slowly, sometimes taking as long as 10 days) The Poison remains active and if another animal, such as a bobcat, coyote, raccoon or snake eats the dead, poisoned rat, the second animal then dies as a result of secondary poisoning. And it doesn’t stop there.
These poisons are so incredibly toxic that if yet another animal up the food chain, such as a mountain lion, eagle, or barn owl consumes all or part of its poisoned pray, they too an die or become extremely ill. A local, famous case of this occurred with the Mountain Lion in Griffith Park, P22, who became sickly with mange after eating an animal that had ingested 1st generation poisoning.
Not only are these poisons lethal to rats and its predators, they can also be mistakenly consumed by our more friendly animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, and squirrels. There are countless stories about poison being discovered and ingested by children. Approximately 10,000 calls come into Poison Control Center for children ingesting rat poison each year. The cure for “rat problems” go well beyond the toxic wasteland of poisons - so why don’t we talk about practical and ecologically-friendly solutions to get a rat problem under control.
There are a couple of great organizations leading the charge in California, creating awareness campaigns as to how we might reach a solution that is both effective and friendly to our environment. I will summarize their messages here, but I encourage you to also visit their websites for more information. Those organizations are Raptors Are the Solution (RATS) and Poison Free Malibu. Links provided at the end of this article.
The way that Poison Free Malibu communicates its strategy is to Clean Up,Seal Up, and “Trap Up.” They are simple, preventative care efforts that speak to nipping the problem before it actually becomes a problem.
Rats are attracted to food that humans leave behind. If we remove their source of food, we effectively remove their motivation. The primary source of their food at an apartment or commercial building is trash in and around an open trash bin or dumpster. Therefore, it is critical to keep the area around trash bins free of trash, spillage, and overflow. In addition, it is also critical to keep trash bins and dumpsters sealed so rats cannot enter the bin in the first place. An open dumpster is an invitation to all scavengers. Close and consider latching or the lid closed. Also, make certain to monitor BBQ and other common food areas for trash. It is VERY important to keep these areas clean at all times. Also, if you have dense planting area such as ivy where rodents can breed, we suggest you trim and thin out the area.
Not only are these poisons lethal to rats and its predators, they can also be mistakenly consumed by our more friendly animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, and squirrels. There are countless stories about poison being discovered and ingested by children.
Inspect your building walls, roofline, and substructure for holes and structural weaknesses. Seal any holes, cracks
or openings where rats or mice may enter your structure and nest. In particular, look for areas where wiring or plumbing passes from exterior walls to interior, areas along the roofline where an opening exists for a mouse or rat to crawl under a tile or shake roof, and any exterior access to a basement or substructure. You would be surprised how small an opening these rodents need to enter a space: less
than ¼” of space for a mouse and less than ½” for a rat! Seal up those openings!
After cleaning and sealing up your building, use traps to remove rodents left inside. By traps, we are talking about live traps, snap traps, or electric traps. These are used to trap rodents that would be left with no means to exit your building after you have sealed it up. It is not necessary to trap exterior rodents once you have cleaned up and sealed up. Some natural deterrents we can implement include aromatic annual herbs. Consider mint, lavender and catnip. If you’d like to plant some perennial plants that deter mice, consider amaryllis, lavender or daffodils.
If you’d like to hire a professional rodent exclusion/proofing company instead of a conventional poison-supplying pest control company, do your research in your area. Look for companies that attack the problem by removing the causes
and entryways, offer guarantees, and not set you up for a monthly bill to re-supply unnecessary poisons. An example of an exclusion/proofing company in southern California is
Rodents Stop www.rodentsstop.com
SB 328 state law requires landlords to provide tenants
with notice whenever any over-the-counter pesticide or herbicide is applied to the property by anyone other that a licensed pest control operator goes into effect January 1, 2016.
For more information, resources, and ways you might support this very important ecologic cause, visit: Raptors Are the Solution (RATS) http://www.raptorsarethesolution.org/
Poison Free Malibu https://poisonfreemalibu.org/
Thanks again for your question, David! As always, please remember, I am not an attorney. Seek clarification through your attorney. All articles are simply an opinion. Stay in touch at www.GetSky.net
Please submit your question today: kari@GetSky.net Watch the web video series to this feature at www.GetSky.net