weezi(z5b/6a Toronto ON)July 17, 2006

I live in downtown Toronto, and I've converted my garden into a very nice space where my family and I can have meals out on a backyard patio surrounded by plants in containers and in the ground - there are vines on the fences, and a fountain playing nice water music, and mirrors to reflect light, and a light to see/read by, and candles in hurricane lamps ....

Last night I was enjoying the patio, sitting and sipping a drink and reading a gardening book by candlelight, and all of a sudden out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of an animal running across the yard - and it looked like a rat! After I picked my heart off the table and put it back, and convinced myself that it was a mole or something (couldn't be a rat, right?), I got back to my reading. 10 minutes later, I saw a rat scurrying along the patio towards me, and this time it was only 3 feet away, so I know for sure it was a rat. It was also a different colour so not the same animal I saw the first time. When I screamed, it scurried under the fence and onto the neighbour's property. And that was the end of my nice evening. Lights out, and into the safety of the house.

Our compost is in one of those covered black bins; our garbage is in a garbage can; there is no trash or food (apart from lettuces and herbs and the unripe plums that are faling off the plum tree) in our backyard, so why are these rats there? And what can I do to get rid of them/keep them away?

Anyone have any ideas?

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If it were mice, I'd say, you can handle this on your own. I had a mice infestation a couple of years back and I set up sticky paper traps and that worked well.

As for RATS. They are smart and very difficult to get rid of once they start a nest nearby. Do yourself a big favour and get professional help right away. YOu'd probably want to alert your neighbors too. RATs will take up residence where they have access to shelter and food. Food can be the fruits that fall off the tree, the birds nest, the compost pile or the garbage bins. you will need to act fast and call a pesticide company.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 3:27PM
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jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

pesticide is too general, I think.

What I use is a good old wooden rat trap available at the local hardware store. Bait it with peanut butter. Works like a charm. Plant the dead rat(s) under or near a rose bush for some natural bone meal.

Some rats are VERY clever, and can lick the peanut butter from the trap without setting it. When that happens, I drill a hole through a dog kibble, and thread that to the trigger. Then I smear peanut butter on top of that. Irresistable to rats.

One year, in the fall, they came into our older farm house looking for my dog's kibble. We caught 14 in a week. With a young baby around, we did not want any pesticides around the house, but rather opted for the traps, setting them only at night. It took 2 traps a week to get them all.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 4:57PM
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Another way to get them is to take a big can of juice (we used an apple juice can) and after drinking the contents, remove one end. In the bottom, place a cracked egg, and then place a rat trap between the egg and the opening... They love eggs and you're bound to get one after another using this method.

We used to live in the city, and they had taken up residence in a shed under the porch. Couldn't afford an exterminator at the time, so used this method recommended by the guy who worked the PCO contract at our place of work. We caught 8 of them before things got quiet again. They were knawing through a wall to get into the house... YUCK!!!

We discovered the scource of the problem was our neighbour's compost pile. He was putting protein foods in there and the rats were nesting in our place. He refused to do something about it saying he was being environmentally friendly by composting, and so we had to get the city involved to get him to remove the compost and it's contents. I agree with composting, but when rats - especially Norwegian rats - start moving in, then there's a serious problem.

Best of luck and hope you get rid of them soon.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 9:21PM
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Rats, unfortunately, are pretty cosmopoliton. Toronto, being the hip and happening place that it is, is perfect rat habitat.

Poison, trapping, and other OUTDOOR controls are futile! It's a bit like trying to control the squirrel population. You will likely barely dent the rat population and kill/harm other animals as well. Try to determine what's attracting them in your backyard and out of the sewers. If they get into your house, start the indoor pest elimination.

Rats indoors though, at least in urban areas, commonly get into homes via an improperly capped/grated sewer drain in the basement. Other holes have to be awfully big and would be noticed at the first sign of cold weather. Any concerns with them gnawing their way in?....It's about the same risk as with squirrels though they are likely to concentrate closer to the base of the house rather than the eaves.

Good luck

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 9:28PM
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weezi(z5b/6a Toronto ON)

I don't think they've set up a nest in my backyard (or at least, I really hope and pray they haven't), and I can't really believe that they're attracted to the unripe fallen plums (nevertheless, I scooped up every plum I could find yesterday). My neighbour has been cleaning out his very messy garage in the last few weeks, and I'm beginning to suspect that there was a nest in his garage which he has disturbed.

I think I will try to set some traps over the next couple of weeks, and if there still seems to be a problem, I will call an exterminator.

I have also read somewhere that rodents don't like to cross sharp objects like gravel, so I'm going to buy some sharp 3/4 inch gravel and place it along all the fences between us and the neighbours, and see if that works.

Tiffy, do you just put the cans on their sides once you put the eggs in, and then set the trap inside?

Thankfully, there's no evidence of them trying to get into our house and we have 2 cats anyway - if I saw a rat inside my house, I'd just pick up and move; mice are bad enough, but rats!!! urrghh!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 2:25PM
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Can I tell you a story of my experience with rat behaviour? Back in Asia, we actually see rats of the Norwegian types travel house to house via the telephone wires. The size of these things were as large as cats. One actually got into my former home, and we had thought to have trapped it in one of hte rooms - it gnawed through the door with it's very strong teeth and that took only a couple of minutes. It took several people to finally catch the thing and to kill it.

Once a rat is killed in one of the traps, the other rats will avoid it. the scent will be a turn off.

My uncle once observed that his stock of rice which was stored in a lidded bin kept going down further that what he & his wife would be able to consume. So one night he stayed up to observe what was happening. A large rat snuck into the kitchen and it carefully lifted the lid, scooped out the rice and dashed into a hole in the wall - apparently where it had a nest -- then the rat returned to the bin --- and slid the lid back to place. My uncle then set up baited traps around the bin and waited for the rat to get trapped. That didn't work for a while. The rat managed to ignore the traps and headed for the bin. Finally one night, it did work because the rat backed up into one of the traps. With the rat killed, the rest of its family came out the next few days looking to get food but they weren't as smart as the first one and were easily caught and killed.

This goes to show just how smart rats can be. My cat certainly wasn't of any help. The rat that entered my old home would have been able to rip the cat into pieces.


    Bookmark   July 20, 2006 at 10:31AM
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