Practical - Index > Urban Wildlife > Wild Animals

Help I'm Being Invaded!

While we love rodents, we also understand that you don't want to invite the wildlife to take over your home. There are effective, humane options to keep critters out of your home or barn.

Lethal methods are not as effective as one might think. Rats are extremely intelligent and live in sophisticated social groups.

      Traps: Since rats are very adept at learning by watching each other, you might catch one or two, but the colony will continue to thrive as the other rats learn that the traps are dangerous and stop tripping them. They may even teach each other to steal the bait!

      Poisons: The drawbacks to these are twofold. First, rat colonies tend to have a "taster" rat who eats before the others. If this rat becomes ill, the others won't take the food. Second, even if you do fool some of the rats, the ones who survive will live to breed. Since rats breed very rapidly (they go into heat every 4 days) they also evolve quickly. The ones who have a resistance to the poison will be the ones who reproduce and their strain will be able to eat poisoned feed and live. This has already made many traditional poisons nearly completely ineffective.

      Shooting, etc.: Killing is a temporary solution to a long-term problem. Without changing the environment another colony will soon replace the previous one.

In order to resolve the problem, your best bet is to change the environment.

      Clean clean clean. Make sure all food is safely put away in airtight containers or in your refrigerator. Don't leave pet food lying around. Also keep substances like glue out of the way.

      Introduce a "predator". The most feared predator of mice and rats is the ferret. You can purchase ferret scent (you won't smell it, but the mice will) from Mouse-B-Gone or you can take a little ferret litter from a friend who has ferrets and strategically place it. One caveat: don't use this product if you have pet rodents in the house since it will make them stressed and neurotic in most cases. It's not likely to be much trouble if you have pet rodents however since wild ones are usually reluctant to move into an area that already has an active colony. In attic spaces you can often deter unwanted wildlife by carefully placing a few ammonia scented rags near the suspected nest. Wait a few days, then plug the point of entry with steel wool and remove the rags. Ammonia smells much like predator urine.

      (if needed) Any stragglers may be able to be removed using humane traps. There are several different designs and these are just a few of the links you can use to purchase them. Just bait them with dog food and a bit of fresh apple (to prevent dehydration) and check the trap frequently. Release the animals far from homes.

Commerical humane traps

Help! My rodent has accidentally been hurt by a pest control device.

      Snap traps: Release limb and see vet immediately.

      Glue traps: Lots and lots of vegetable oil, followed by a thorough bath. Be gentle! Don't rip the skin.

      Poisons: Many rat poisons cause a vitamin K deficiency so administering this vitamin may help. See a vet immediately. Poisons often cause internal hemmoraging.

This care sheet provided by:
3R Raleigh Rodent Rescue, Save a lifeadopt a new friend!