Ha anyone had to deal with rats in an area that the dog can get into?
Lovely uptown Phoenix is now fully infested with roof rats, a nice little wildlife species brought here by folks moving here from other states. They look much like a Norway rat, but mercifully are somewhat less obnoxious. In their habits, they're really more like a tree squirrel than like the household mice and Norway rats we know and loathe.
They subsist largely on citrus, of which I have aplenty in the backyard. Two large Arizona sweet oranges are growing out there, and (ungraciously), I am NOT sharing!
I've known at least one of them was out there for several weeks. They chew citrus rinds in a characteristic way -- you can't miss it.
Problem is, citrus ain't the only thing the little guys chew! They're also very fond of electrical wiring, automobile cables and hoses, and the hoses on your wash machine. If your washer is outside or in the garage, you're likely to be surprised by a nice flood one day, should they take up residence there.
They're very strong climbers, and they like to live in attics. I think my attic is pretty well secured -- all the openings are either screened fully or jammed full of steel wool. (Roof rats hate steel wool.) Once they take up residence inside your attic, you've got a problem.
Because there they will chew your electrical wiring, and that can be an expensive fix. Especially if they cause a short that catches fire to your house...
LOL! One day I was hanging out in the front yard when my neighbor Dave (former proprietor of Dave's Used Car Lot, Marina, and Weed Arboretum) hollered over, "Hey! Come look at this!"
He had an antique car he'd been keeping in his garage, and -- honestly, this is not an exaggeration! -- all of the hoses and cables were gone! You could see where little rat teeth had chewed them all off.
So, one would not like to have them set up housekeeping in the backyard. Or anywhere else.
The last time this happened, Ratty established an outpost in the garage. She was living under the washer and dryer and going in and out to eat the fruit. I poisoned that one with rat bait.
However... at the time I had a German shepherd, who couldn't easily reach into the places where the rat was sheltering -- under the laundry appliances and behind an old set of bookshelves I'd put in the garage. I knew that once poisoned, the rat would retreat under the washer or dryer (which it did, ultimately), and the dog couldn't get at it there.
This little guy, though, resides in the backyard. I think it's nesting under the cat's claw. Three times I've seen it dart across from an orange tree and dive into the vines, Ruby hot on its tail.
So far, Ruby hasn't managed to catch it. But I'm afraid if she does, it'll bite her. They carry a number of unpleasant diseases, to say nothing of fleas and ticks, and so in addition to not wanting her to get hurt, I'd really like her not to tangle with the critter.
But I'm afraid to put rat bait out there. The rat bait available at the Home Depot is strychnine. If the dog finds a poisoned rat corpse and eats it, the dog is likely to die, too. Coyotes and hawks are commonly killed around here from scavenging on poisoned rats.
So, it was off to the Ace Hardware, where one of the proprietors sold me a perfectly horrible-looking plastic rat trap. The regular rat traps -- the ones that look like mouse traps on steroids -- are not something I want to mess with. I've never been able to set a mouse trap without pinching my finger. If one of those spring rat traps snaps on your finger, it'll break a bone!
Ace has a plastic thing that you can set by stepping on it with a booted foot.
This, of course, presents the issue of keeping Ruby and Cassie out of it. Fortunately, I still have the garden borders and the X-pens that I used to contain Ruby's puppy depradations.
When really determined, she can climb over the garden border (or get her head stuck in it...). Besides, the ground is so hard out there, I couldn't push it into the ground very effectively. But did contrive to prop it up around the area where the rat is believed to nest.
Then I created an outer border with lengths from an old X-pen, which I'd already deconstructed to form a makeshift fence to keep her out of the pool.
Hence, a double-layered border:
Ruby is not much bigger than a rat...well, she probably is, but she's small enough and agile enough to pursue one to ground. I'm afraid if she spots it in a trap, she'll try to get in there.
Ugh! What a pain in the tuchus!
Anybody got any better rat coping strategies?