infrared camera detect rodents
January 30, 2006 12:20 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone tried an infrared camera to detect rodents? I'm trying to figure out where flying squirrels are entering my cabin roof or walls. Please don't tell me about traps, poisons, electronics, strobe lights, etc. I'm interested only in use of infrared for detection purposes.

Location is northern Wisconsin and house is sided with half-logs and has a shake roof. Roof peak is 25 ft. high.
posted by nancoix to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
I am not going to tell you about traps, poisons, electronics, strobe lights, etc., nor about infrared except that such beasties are expensive but that you can use an old digital camera using these instructions.

A low tech solution is powder. Flour is one, but since it is food it might attract bugs etc. In this weather that is probably not an issue. An alternative would be diatomaceous earth, sold for bug control and comprising essentially a fine powder of sea shells. Spread it near possible entry sites and watch for tracks.

We had squirrels in our attic and I could never tell how they got in until one crawled out of a small opening between the chimney and the eave and then ran across our painter's chest. You have to inspect everywhere.

When you find out, put screen up forming a one-way door that allows the animals out, but not back in. You don't want them dying in your attic.
posted by caddis at 12:56 PM on January 30, 2006

The fur on an animal is a very good insulator. I've looked at my cat with a $30K IR camera and, except for the ears and eyes, he was invisible. I wouldn't expect to see a rodent unless it was up close and personal.
posted by mediaddict at 1:18 PM on January 30, 2006

Are you talking about near infrared cameras (aka nightvision) or far infrared cameras (aka thermal imaging)?

The former have entered the price range of mere mortals within recent years. This store has models in the low hundreds.

The latter, the kind that produce those cool predator-like heat images, run in the multiple thousands of dollars.
posted by justkevin at 1:19 PM on January 30, 2006

Apparently rodent urine glows under UV light, so you could use UV instead of IR to look for urine trails.
posted by GuyZero at 1:31 PM on January 30, 2006

MY experience with motion detector cameras (if that's what you are talking about) is that they kind of suck. You rarely get a good image.

If you're talking about using an infrared camera to find out where heat is escaping your house and therefore where the rodents are getting in- I'd think that would be tricky as they are probably multiple vents under the roof.
posted by fshgrl at 1:34 PM on January 30, 2006

Wildlife photographers sometimes use camera traps that are triggered when an animal breaks an invisible beam. Maybe you can set some up in your attic.
posted by driveler at 1:47 PM on January 30, 2006

except for the ears and eyes, he was invisible.

My cat feels warm to the touch. Isn't there some IR device that can detect this from a few yards away?
posted by rxrfrx at 3:27 PM on January 30, 2006

Hmmm. I'm experimenting on my cat now. His fur is so soft. He's purrrring....and drooling.

Oh, yeah - the experiment. He feels warm if I hold my hand in the same place for a while, or if I press down (compact his fur). If I just barely touch him, I can't feel anything. However, my palm is now being insulated, so whereas it was losing heat to the air before, now it isn't. I think the fur is such a good insulator and has such low heat capacity that its temperature quickly reaches the ambient temperature, even if that is your palm.

My cat says he enjoyed that experiment.
posted by mediaddict at 9:38 AM on February 2, 2006

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