Pros: Works fast and works well. Gets rid of rats. Inexpensive.
Cons: Toxic to other animals.
Guess what I've been doing all week? If you guessed, cleaning up after and figuring out how to get rid of rats on our semi-enclosed patio, you'd be right.
Seems as if the past few years, each fall when the weather turns cooler, we start having problems with rats. We live near a canyon and wooded area with lots of wildlife. I thought we had solved the problem last winter when we cleaned out the entire patio and discovered a basketball-sized rat's nest. It was awful. So this last week when I discovered we had rats on our patio again, I was really surprised. Persistent little varmints!
I thought we had taken measures to keep them out by nailing up a heavy wire mesh at areas where they could squeeze into the patio. Apparently we missed a couple of little corners. My friend's brother is an exterminator and he came out and showed us exactly where the rats have been getting in. He told me that rats are very smart, but that they're also lazy. If they can't get into a place fairly easily, they will move on. We were surprised to find though that they had dug a small hole, not unlike a dog would dig, only much smaller. It was at the corner of the patio, where the heavy wire mesh ended. It really was a small area for them to squeeze into, but they did it.
There is nothing on our patio to attract rodents. We no longer store dog food out there or even a water dish for the dog. In fact, we don't even let our dog stay out there anymore. But, the exterminator told me that even though I had put almost everything (tools, paint, tape and other such items) into plastic tubs with lids, I was still creating hiding places for the rats to live in, which is what they were looking for: shelter from the cold.
SOLVING THE PROBLEM
So to make a long story short, the exterminator advised me to purchase some d-CON Bait Pellets. He said NOT to mix it with peanut butter, which could attract ants (we also have to deal with occasional ant problems). I prefer using d-CON Bait Pellets to rat traps or those sticky traps, because I hate having to see or remove an injured or dead mouse or rat. Last year we used a couple of traps and I was astounded to see just how large these rats were. (I would say the bodies were 5-6 inches long and the tail even longer.)
On the other hand, the sticky traps, although pretty effective, can make a mess if the rodent only steps one or two feet into it and them drags it all over, smearing the glue everywhere.
Using d-CON was the answer for us. The active ingredient in d-CON is "Brodifacoum", which is an anti-coagulant, meaning that blood clotting factors are inhibited, so the rodent hemorrhages and dies within 36-48 hours.
We went to the local hardware store and purchased the multi-pack of d-CON consisting of 4 bait trays for $7.99. Each bait tray has a net weight of 3 ounces. This product has been accepted by Good Housekeeping. I placed just one bait trap near where we had seen droppings. The bait trap is just a small cardboard box that tears open along a perforated lid. The pellets themselves are a turquoise color and are slightly smaller then a pencil's eraser. They sound like hard plastic when rolling around in the bait box. I placed it on the patio floor. That night I shut off the lights in the downstairs, waited a few minutes, and crept over to the window. I peeked out and then flipped the patio light on. I saw a flash of a large end of a rodent and it's long tail disappear very quickly behind some of the plastic tubs. Makes me shudder to think about it.
Since then I waited about 4 more days before I went back out to the patio to clean everything, because if any other rats were coming around, we wanted them to have a chance to get at the d-CON too. At that time, I put a mask on over my nose and mouth (having heard about the dangers of the "hantavirus") and some work gloves. I began the lovely task of cleaning up all the droppings and let me tell you, there were plenty of them (even the exterminator was surprised at how much there was). There was also lots of dried urine in the corners. Next I picked up the box of d-CON to see how much was left and there wasn't even one pellet! It (or they) had eaten the whole box. I have no idea if there was one rat or five since I had only seen one.
Definitely keep pets and children away from this and call a doctor or your veterinarian immediately if d-CON bait is eaten. This product is also very toxic to just about everything else, including cats, fish, birds and other wildlife. For example, if a rat has consumed some d-CON and a cat or bird then caught that rat, it could also become sick or die.
The exterminator told us to continue using the d-CON for the next several months. He advised us to pull things away from the wall to eliminate the hiding places that rats love. We also purchased some expanding foam to spray in the tiny holes that rats can squeeze in through.
We put a second fresh box of d-CON out two days ago and to my relief, it remains untouched, so keeping my fingers crossed that the problem has been solved. If not, I know that we can use d-CON Rat Pellets again to get rid of the disease-carrying rodents.
d-CON Bait Pellets are for use on mice, roof rats and Norway rats.
Questions or comments: Call 1-800-228-4722
Distributed by Reckitt Benckiser Inc.
Parsippany, NJ 07054-0224
(Let me add that I do love most animals. Growing up, we had hamsters, cockatiels, parakeets, fish and dogs. These rats are wild, destructive and disease-carriers.)
Thanks for reading