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Rats in her Attic?
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Some people seem to take advantage of older folks, ask Jackie....

I am a senior citizen and  live in San Antonio, Texas.  Two weeks ago I had the extermin ator come by to elimimate those huge tree roaches which come into our homes in the summer (they hate the heat , too) and he told me I had rats in the attic,  that it was a very bad infestation and they had been there for a long time.

I have never heard a sound nor have they tried to get any food from my pantry or any cabinet, and have never found any tracks in the house.  There is a large 8000 gallon pond in the back which he says attracts them.  He has not gone looking for the entry into the attic yet, but will when  they are dead.

It has been 2 weeks, he has not returned as he said he would  and I have found no dead rats in my garage, back yard, pond or anywhere else, nor is there any smell.  With the 90+ deg. heat  we have had, it seems strange to me that there has been no evidence of any dead rats.

He is to come back late today or tomorrow afternoon and I need some info from you, if possible:

1.  Are there really rats or is he just creating business for himself?

2.  Would rats not invade the rest of the house and only stay in the attic over the garage?

3.  Would the rats ignore the food stuff in my kitchen?

4.   Is the pond really attracting rodents?

Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Jackie M.



And I wrote back with....

Hi, Jackie:

I'm a senior citizen too!  If you consider 60 as senior.  My kids do.  My mother (94) thinks I'm a young whipper-snapper!  

Jackie, I would think, if you had rats, "bad," as he said, you would have heard them, seen them, and had ample evidence that they were around.  And if he baited for rats, you would, if they were really "bad," have a definite smell of dead rats - especially in 90 degree weather, after about a week or so.  Not only that, but he should be able to show you rat droppings, up in your attic, to prove that you have a long-standing problem.  While rats do require water, the pond, outside, in itself, is not really an attraction for rats.  They need a constant food supply also, and for you to have rats on the inside, you would have to have rats on the outside too - enough so that you would KNOW there were rats out there.  Let me put it this way:  The people that discover rats on the INSIDE have already seen the rats on the OUTSIDE.  This is not the case with mice - mice are completely different and you can have mice and not know it.  It is difficult to have a rat problem and not KNOW they are rats.  If you don't do anything about them they get pretty brave and you tend to see them.

Methinks he is setting you up for a rip-off.  Okay, this is what you want to do. Take a few crackers, smear some peanut butter on them, and put them upstairs, in the attic, around the perimeter of the attic.  Put out several placements, (6-8) make a note of exactly where they are and check them every 24 hours.  If you have rats, the peanut butter crackers will be gone, probably in the first 24 hours.  

Put him off for a couple of days, don't let him come back yet, tell him you have company or something, so that you'll have a couple of days to check to see what happens with your cracker placements.  If your peanut butter cracker placements stay there, especially after a few days, you can be reasonably be sure that you don't have a rat infestation.  

If you have no activity on the placements, then when he comes back, ask him if you really have rats.  If he says you do, then tell (and show) him your placements, tell him they have been out for "X" amount of days and nights, and there have been no rats taking your placements.  Don't ask to see dead rats, a rip-off type exterminator might just have thought about this and brought one with him!

In the meantime, call the local office of the BBB and ask them if they have had any complaints about this exterminator.  If, in the end you find out that this was a setup, it might also be a good idea to write (not email) a complaint letter to the Texas Pest Control Association and detail to them your complete experience.

Another thing you might do is call your city hall and ask them about help for senior citizens that are getting ripped off by this outfit.  Around here they have a special bureau to help senior citizens with things like this.

Reminds me of the time we got a call from a (very) old lady that wanted us to come over and bait her house for mice.  I took the call, had asked her a few standard questions, and decided to stop over myself.  Well, when I got there, the lady explained to me that she never saw or heard the mice, but she knew they were there. She said her eyesight was not good, but she moved around the house okay, she certainly wasn't even close to blind.

But around the room, in every room, throughout the entire house, every 8 feet or so, were bait placements (for mice) made by at least three separate and distinct exterminators.  One national company even used their own branded placement trays so I knew exactly who did it.  There was enough bait in that house to kill a thousand mice - every day for a week!  I really had to chuckle to myself - all these bums taking this poor lady's money!  When they KNOW the lady obviously doesn't have a problem.  How could they do this to someone that could be their own mother?  (This is why I have a dim view of this industry - this kind of thing happens a lot.)  Now it's not that this lady was poor or anything, she lives in a middle-class neighborhood so she isn't rich either.  It's the principle that bothers me.  My mother's an old lady, and eventually, I guess we're all going to be old (if we're lucky) and I don't want to get ripped off when I get old(er).

So let's see what gives when you try the cracker trick!

Get back to me if you have more questions!

----john



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