Category Archives: Rodent

Copper Harvesting Rats

Now I knew that people did it when short on cash, but I had no clue that there were copper harvesting rats! Late last month while enjoying a Criminal Minds rerun, my TV shut off out of nowhere, with a little investigation (and a lot of mess) I was able to find the problem. A rodent had been chewing on the wires, most likely to yield a profit with the copper wiring; or realistically to trim down their big front teeth. Either way, it was Saturday night and there was no way I was missing the playoffs just for some rat in withdrawals. Luckily my brother, Nathan, is an electrician and lives just down the street; he was at my house within the hour.
After digging a few handheld, electric saws out from the garage, we set to work behind the TV, determined to figure out the extent of the problem, but what we found was worse. Piles of feces and dried urine puddles; it was definitely rats and they had been doing much more than just taking care of their dental work back there. Not to mention the fact that the wires from the television were stripped and chewed through in numerous places. From the looks of it, I wasn’t going to be watching the playoffs game. Besides harvesting the copper from the cable, it looked like they had gotten to some of the outlets, lights, and other various wires.
It was just my luck that something like this would happen, I assume that it’s because of the rat I stepped on in 9th grade. It’s like Taken, only with rodents! Back to what I was saying, once I stepped back and looked at the situation (and maybe googled what to do) I decided that this was too serious for me to handle myself. Since I already had the almost free electrician, I called in an exterminator, a contractor, and the cable company. Someone had to know what to do! Fortunately they did, and last week I had everything put back together. Wires in place, walls repaired and rat free, all evidence of rodent excrement gone, and the best part was that I had my TV back. Not to mention Nate let me watch the game at his house. Football night can’t be ruined by some crazy, copper harvesting rats!

Fruit Thief

Living in Southern California means that I can grow fruit trees, but it also provides an abundance of fruit thieves. A few years back when my boyfriend Danny and I decided to start planting fruit trees, we were expecting that animals would occasionally rob us of some of the delicious fruit when it started growing. Well, we were spot on. Last year we started seeing small orange balls beginning to grow on the branches of one tree, I was ecstatic! Seeing as I don’t have any kids and Dan is allergic to dogs and cats, these trees became my babies, and it was thrilling to see the fruit sprout; but along with my new produce, came new visitors. It wasn’t long after my first orange sighting that I catch sight of a sneaky little critter making off with one in his paws.
I immediately marched Danny down to the nearest Home Depot to find something to protect my little saplings (though they hardly were anymore) from the intruders. We bought ourselves some bricks and cement and spent the rest of the night laying a two-foot tall wall around all five of our various citrus trees, I was determined to keep them safe from predators, but it didn’t work for long. A few weeks ago I started finding busted open fruits laying on the ground, insides eaten out! I was awestruck, what sort of thief could so slyly maneuver over the wall, up the tree, and back down only to litter my lawn with the rinds?
It only got worse from there, on Saturday last week we had a little rain that wet the ground just enough for me to see the footprints that the culprit had left behind. To my surprise, it looked just like a tiny hand! I would not stand to see some four-fingered creature stealing my fruit and I had Danny setting traps in the yard before the sun set that evening, and it paid off. Last night we caught ourselves a rat, and though my battle is far from over, I was pleased to have finally identified one of my fruit thieves.

Dead Rat

I don’t know if you’ve ever smelled a dead rat, but it’s not pleasant that’s for sure. It was roughly a year ago when my wife Justine and I discovered that our new house (of only three months) had a rat problem; no wonder it sold so easily. It took us a while to realize that our moving boxes hadn’t had holes in them when we moved, and all of our food was intact when it was packed away. The hard part wasn’t getting rid of the rats, but convincing Justine that traps and poison were the way to go. As an animal lover she was hesitant to bring harm to any creature, she wouldn’t even swat flies in the house! At first we tried to just block off any place we were suspicious that they could get in, but then we discovered that the rats had chewed holes in our couch, the one Justine’s grandma left to her when she died. After that there was no mercy for any vermin in the Nielsen home! We set out traps in hopes to catch all the rats red handed.
My master plan didn’t settle well with my wife, and when she found a dead rat under her desk, twisted grotesquely in a trap, she called for a cease fire and told me she would not let me set anymore traps, she couldn’t stand the sight of the poor, dead rodents. I was a little aggravated at this change in my strategies, but they changed nonetheless. I know who makes the rules in my house. As they say in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, “A man may be the head of the house, but a woman is the neck and she can turn the head any way she pleases,” so I set out poison instead, that way none of the rats would die in the house, but in their nests instead. Wherever they may be.
Awkwardly for us, the nest turned out to be underneath the house, and as I said before, the smell of dead rat isn’t an enjoyable one. What was worse was that our cat, Minny, LOVED to catch mice (I know we should have just let her go for the rats but I was ready for war!) and these were bigger, faster, more challenging, and apparently more appeasing. She chased and caught maybe two or three or more of the already poisoned rats, and got VERY sick. Now, not only did we have to live with the smell of the dead rats, but also with the smell and sound of an ill pussycat, none of which I’d like to experience again. We were in and out of the vet’s office for a month, not to mention I had to crawl under the house to clear out the rotting animals. This took a lot longer than I thought it would just for a couple of dead rats.

Squirrels Chewing Christmas Lights

Now I don’t know if anyone else is having this problem, but I’ve got squirrels chewing the Christmas lights that are wrapped around my house. Every year I’ve dealt with them but never like this, the lights are stripped to the wire in some places, chewed at in others, and completely gnawed through in one or two! I couldn’t believe it when my daughter called to tell me that the lights had shut off after only a week of being up! It seemed unreal to me that any of the bulbs had gone out, but I crawled up anyway to check it out; and, very much to my surprise, I found them split in two right where the cable crossed underneath the pine next to my house. Well after that I had no doubt who the culprits were, after all, squirrels have just about the sharpest teeth you’ve ever seen.
Since I couldn’t just up and replace my lights every time one of the pests got their hands on them, I had to figure out a way to keep my lights in one piece, and the squirrels too. I tried the pigeon spikes, no luck; cutting the branches that hung over the house, they climbed up the stucco. After my ideas were all out the window, I took it to my most trusted advisor; Google. As it turns out, several other people had been dealing with squirrels chewing at their Christmas lights as well, but the universe was on my side. A man in Maine had just this problem, and had the solution for it as well.
So, following the tips I got on my favorite search engine, I ran some of the extra electric fencing I had left from my horse pasture along with the new lights, and plugged it in (on a very low setting). If it could keep my horses in the field, it could keep the squirrels off my lights! I kept my eye out for any funny business that night, and sure enough around 8 o’clock, my unexpected victim hopped from the tree to my roof. It sat next to the bulbs for a minute, looking around for any predators, before it grabbed at them, and BAM, just like Holly Holms and Rhonda Rousey, it was lights out for the squirrel! I haven’t had any problems since, but it might not have been the best way to deal with squirrels chewing on my Christmas Lights.

Rat Infestation in Washington, D.C. Neighborhoods

Rat (4)Rat Urine Kills Pet in D.C Neighborhood

A 13-week-old dog in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C. recently died from a disease transmitted by rodent urine.  Residents have long been frustrated by the rodent problem, but this has tipped the scales for Foggy Bottom Association President Marina Streznewski.  The dog was her pet, and now the rat problem is personal.  The association has been working to get the rat problem under control for a while, but now she is reaching out to other local groups with proposals they work together.  She’s also pushing for new compactor trash cans that block rodents from getting into the garbage.  Rats can easily climb the current typical trash can models and access waste just lying at the top.  Efforts are being made to put a grant program into place for businesses so they can more easily purchase the new trash cans.  But, the rodent problem won’t be solved by new trash cans alone.  Bushes must be cleared, rat burrows must be treated, and neighborhoods must work together if they hope to get the rodent infestation under control.

Rodent Infestation

I clean and repair foreclosed homes for a living, so I’ve seen my share of rodent infestations, but this home was so horrific I had to shower at least four times after I got home from work.

Cleaning foreclosed homes is not the dream job, I’ll admit, but at least it’s a job.  Like many people, I worked in the construction business for a long time until the housing market dropped.  When I’m not repairing foreclosed homes and cleaning them, I’m a flooring guy.  I lay carpet, hardwood floors, tile and vinyl.  I’m used to the muck and guck of ripping out old floors and finding everything from pet urine to bugs underneath.  So, you’d think I wouldn’t be as disgusted by the remnants of a rodent infestation as other guys.  Usually, that’s true, until I got to this house.

When I arrived, it was obvious from the exterior that the home had been abandoned for a while.  The lawn was seriously overgrown with weeds, the tree out front was dead, and untrimmed bushes practically hid the front door.  Abandoned homes don’t usually stay abandoned for long.  Wild animals nearly always move in, attracted by a warm, protected shelter and any food source they can find within.  Trash, old food, and bugs are plentiful inside some of these abandoned places, so I often have to deal with getting rid of a rodent infestation.

I think I actually gasped when I walked into this place, though.  The place was covered with hard little black pellets.  It looked like a raisin processing plant had exploded in there.

Rat eating a baby bird
Rat walking around with it’s prey.
(Artwork by Sharon Davis. Contact us for her contact info.)

Most times, you can tell when a home is infested with rodents, because rat droppings or mouse droppings will follow a trail.  Rats like to stay up against walls, feeling their way along the wall with their whiskers, so they’ll leave rat droppings in a little trail.  The kitchen counters in this home had the tell-tale rat trail up against the wall, but that was just a small portion of what I saw.  The entire floor, all counter surfaces, the stove, the oven, the refrigerator and every cabinet was covered in rat droppings.

I moved through the home, investigating the living room area, the bedrooms and the bathrooms.  I could actually see little clouds of dust rise up as the nastiness crunched under my feet.  Fortunately, my training had kicked in before I had even walked into the home, and I’d put on my respirator and protective clothing and gloves.  I carried my camera with me and snapped pictures to send off to the bank that handled the foreclosure and their property management division.  I suspected this property would probably be condemned, and had to document everything carefully for insurance and everyone else who would have to get involved.

I have to admit, I was extremely relieved I didn’t actually see the rats.  I had no idea where they were hiding, but there had to be hoards of them.  Only a serious rodent infestation would do that to a house.  I ripped off my respirator as soon as I got back to the safety of my truck, and carefully removed the protective gloves and clothing, disposing of them safely in a plastic bag.  Then, I made the call to the property management company so they could decide what to do next.

No matter how many showers I took and how often I washed my hands, though, it was days before I felt clean again.