Rats! They're in the walls!
February 9, 2010 2:34 PM   Subscribe

Our entire townhouse community is infested with rodents and we have some in the walls. The HOA is going to put poison baits around. Complication: we have two cats.

I live in the southwest and for about the last week have been hearing scratching sounds in one of my walls. My SO said it sounded like rats. A few days ago we got a note from our HOA saying it was a "rodent infestation throughout the community." We have been keeping our heat on because we think it keeps the rodents out, but if they're out, they can get to the poison baits set by the HOA. Then they could return to our walled backyard where our cats are allowed to go, and our cats could eat them and get the poison secondhand. Here's what we've decided to do:

-Keep the cats in until the rodents are gone.
-Get snap traps and put them on the roof where we believe they found access. We will put traps in any holes we find on the roof.
-Trim our olive tree back so they can't use it to get down to our backyard.
-Clean the backyard of anything the rodents might eat.

We're looking for more suggestions. We've never had vermin before so we're not sure if this will be enough. Plus, I'm worried about letting the cats back outside too soon. How do we know when the rodents are gone?
posted by xenophile to Home & Garden (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If anything, the heat being on is what's attracting them to the building in the first place. Fall and winter is when rodents move in for this exact reason. They (like us) want a warm place to sleep and a shelter to build their nest.

Trimming the tree back should help. Finding any and all access points (anything the size of a quarter or bigger) and plugging them up or putting a screen over it is the only way to keep them out (this is complicated by the fact that you're connected to other people's homes, but there are businesses that can do this type of thing). They can chew through just about anything except metal, so use steel wool as a temporary fix if need be.

I caution against using poison anyway, pets or no pets. You might want to mention this to the HOA. The rats are going to die somewhere, and it's typically going to be the nest, which may or may not be inside the wall. This will invariably stink to high heaven and you'll have no way of getting to it to clean it out. If the HOA is willing to go with a professional company, make sure the company uses live traps and make sure they're going to come back out to check and clear them.

Keeping the cats in is a good idea at this point. Unfortunately, I don't know much about pets being poisoned second-hand but as a pet owner, I wouldn't want to take any chances. My ultimate advice would be to get a professional out there, but the rest of my advice is what I would consider to be the next-best-thing.

Good luck! You should be free of the situation once it starts to warm up again.
posted by a.steele at 2:46 PM on February 9, 2010

"Trim our olive tree back so they can't use it to get down to our backyard."

While this will help a rat or mouse can climb right up a masonry, brick, wood or stucco wall with little more effort than running across level ground.
posted by Mitheral at 6:00 PM on February 9, 2010

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