When it comes to infestation, rats cannot read
“Impossible!” exclaimed the man. “Do you know where I live?” he asked. “We don't have any of those in my neighborhood!”
I offered the man my apologies. I had no idea where he lived and, truth be told, I didn't care. Maybe he picked up a whiff of my indifference regarding his address and maybe that bothered him. I still didn't care, but more importantly for him, neither did the rats that made his home theirs.
I listened as he described the excavation which he discovered around his concrete patio and the semicircular tunnel-like holes chewed through the drywall in his garage. I even studied the droppings he collected, placed neatly in a plastic sandwich bag and brought to my store for my analysis. My conclusion was that he had rats, period.
After asking him a few questions, I learned the reason for his yucky rodent infestation and was able to offer a remedy.
As it turns out, Mr. Fancy Pants was feeding songbirds, a very popular winter hobby in this part of the country. He was serious about it, too, always using quality seeds, refilling often and even providing a heated birdbath for his feathered friends. He was, however, lackadaisical about cleaning up spilled seed around the feeder and perhaps worst of all, he stored his seeds on the garage floor in its own paper bag.
The rats, unaware that they were not allowed to enter his neighborhood, sniffed out the free eats and did what their instincts told them to do — move in and live large.
My advice for that man and to all who enjoy the gorgeous colors and uplifting energy of birds at a backyard feeder is to be twice as aggressive about protecting your seed and property from rodents as you are about feeding the birds. Clean the ground around the feeder daily and always store your seed in a rodent resistant container.
At the first sign of mouse, chipmunk or rat activity, set a bunch of traps. Get serious about eliminating the problem or it will, in short order, get worse. Rodents procreate — and I mean they really procreate. So get ahead of them quickly and avoid the dangers of chewed wires and filthy nests.
As for my pretentious customer, he followed my advice, cleaned up vigorously, stored his seed properly and trapped away his unwanted invaders which were, in fact, rats. He now enjoys the delights of birding without the burden of rodents.
Hardware store lore has it that he went the extra step of getting his neighborhood's covenant re-written to include clear language stating “NO RATS ALLOWED.” As for the rats paying attention, well to that it is I who exclaim “impossible!”
Ed Pfeifer is a freelance columnist for the Tribune-Review and the owner of Pfeifer Hardware Inc., 300 Marshall Way, Mars. If you have hardware-related questions, call the store at 724-625-9090.