People relocate to San Diego and are generally amazed at our lack of pests–except for seasonal ants, occasional raccoons and rats.
We love our gardens, outdoor living and so do our native rhodents, which are generally either the larger brown and burrowing Norway rats or the smaller black roof rats that live in our vegetation. Some neighbors, in fact, have abandoned their organic gardens because they attract rats of all types. Gardens are easy targets for night foraging. And we all know to never, ever leave pet food outdoors overnight.
So how to eliminate eliminate rat problems?
First of all, NEVER use poisonous bait unless it is in a locked and secure bait station. Even then, it’s a cruel solution and one that can endanger the lives of pets and other wildlife. A cat, dog, bird or other critter that ingests any part of a poisoned rat or mouse could likewise be poisoned or be easily attracted to the bait itself. Ditto for owls, possums and other natural rat predators. I am also not a fan of glue traps because the mouse or rat is left alive and struggling and YOU are left to deal with the situation. That could be cruel for both trapper and the trapped.
The best solution is to use the old fashioned snap traps that are properly loaded with food–which will insure a very quick and relatively painless death. Just be sure the loaded traps are placed out of reach for pets and birds. A great place is in attics, in hidden spots parallel to your homes foundation and perhaps buried in vegetations.
Further excellent research can be found via UC Davis research. Included therein:
Trapping is the safest and most effective method for controlling rats in and around homes. Snap traps with large plastic treadles are especially effective. Nut meats & dried fruit make good bait that pets won’t want. Fasten the bait securely to the trigger of the trap with light string, thread, or fine wire so the rodent will spring the trap when attempting to remove the food. Even glue can be used to secure the bait to the trigger. Soft baits such as peanut butter and cheese can be used, but rats sometimes take soft baits without setting off the trap (and this has happened to me often). Set traps so the trigger is sensitive and will spring easily. Place traps in natural travel ways, such as along walls, so the rodents will pass directly over the trigger of the trap.
Dispose of dead rodents as quickly as possible by burying them or by placing them in a sealed plastic bag and putting them in the trash. Do not handle them with bare hands.
Use as many traps as are practical so trapping time will be short and decisive. A dozen or more traps for a heavily infested home might be necessary. Place rat traps about 10 to 20 feet apart. If a rat sets off a trap without getting caught, it will be very difficult to catch the rat with a trap again. To reduce the likelihood of “trap shyness,” one excellent strategy is to leave traps baited but unset until the bait has been taken overnight. To avoid using too few traps, if bait it taken from all traps, double the number of baited traps exposed, and keep doing so until some traps remain with bait untaken; then bait and set all traps.
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