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Chris has a rat in the tool shed
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I had a rat residing in my tool shed.  He was feeding on grass seed I had left in there from the fall.  Although winter is still far from over here in New York, I cleaned out the shed and removed the seed.  I threw away the cushions he ate through to make his nest.  I didn't clean up all the rat droppings that were on the ground.

Is there a proper way to clean up the droppings, because I didn't necessarily feel comfortable breathing in all the dust that kicked up when I swept out the shed?

I know he was making a regular trip between the shed and the deck in my back yard. (The deck in on the ground).  I want to set some traps around my deck because I want to make sure he has moved on.  I don't want to use poison because I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old too.

Any suggestions?

Thanks for your time,

Chris H.



And I wrote back to Chris with this....

Hello, Chris:

First of all, just sweep up the droppings - no special precautions other than the ones you would use to handle any kind of excrement, actually.  There are diseases associated with rodents and droppings of rodents, but only in connection with long-term infestations and long-term contact, rather than the situation you describe.

Next, forget using traps.  Rats, unless they are young and inexperienced, will not fall for a trap.  What will happen, is that you'll catch one (or maybe a couple) then you won't catch anymore.  Naturally, if you only have one rat, this may be a viable option.  In which case, you need to determine one of his regular pathways (preferably his main one) and set the trap up there.  If you can "surprise him," you probably don't even need to bait the trap, he'll trip over it.

Actually, if you only had one (for sure) then what you've already done might be all you need to do!  If he/she was only there for a short time, (a few months, maybe) then the disruption of the area will drive it out.  Naturally, you must make sure he/she doesn't take up residence under something else, only a few yards away.... And you must consider HOW he got there in the first place.  Are you feeding the birds?  Are the neighbors?  Fruit trees?

To properly do rat control, the only REAL alternative is bait.  Modern baits are not much of a danger to humans, actually, they have built-in bittering agents, and the amount required to kill even a small child would be more than you would use to kill a thousand rats.  Besides, you place bait out of the reach of any animals EXCEPT the rats, anyway.  That's the theory, anyway.  Suffice to say, that's why we have professionals.  Problem is, most of the exterminators you call will be more interested in extracting the $$, so will recommend bait stations, regular monitoring, and regular billings, ad infinitum.

From the sound of it, I would clean out the shed of any kind of foodstuffs (seeds!) make sure there is no nesting materials in there, and, if you can, leave the door open for a few nights in a row.  This will allow the neighborhood cats in there, not a good thing for nesting rats.  As long as you only do this a few nights in a row, you'll not have to worry about something else taking up residence.

Then, make sure there are no more hiding places for the rat(s) within about a hundred feet or so (if you can) - and then just wait.  Rats are smart enough to leave the area if it's not habitable anymore.

And, if you feel confidant enough, you could bait for the rat.

Don't know if you have as yet, but you could check the pages I have listed below, they all deal with problems of animals in or under sheds, decks and buildings.

http://UnExCo.com/Rat.html

http://UnExCo.com/mice.html

http://UnExCo.com/Decks.html

Nice to hear from you.  Get back to me if you have more questions!

----john



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