Now this is a story all about how, my life got flipped-turned upside down, and I'd like to take a minute, just sit right there, I'll tell you how we sorted a situation that's not at all rare . . .
The story begins sometimes around the beginning of November, when we started hearing strange scratching noises from under the kitchen cupboards and the next day the from behind of the kitchen skirting board. Me being an all creatures loving person, I got quite excited about a possibility of a little mouse in my house. However somewhere deep down I knew that it probably wasn't a mouse, but rather something larger (I can be a little naive at times :D ).
So what is the first thing you do when you suspect a mouse/rat problem? Well you would probably go out and buy poison or some sort of a trap to get rid of the problem as soon as possible, but for me I really wanted to see what we we're dealing with, so I went ahead and purchased a CCTV camera which we hooked up to our existing DVR system.
If you would like to watch my video you can click here:
Step 1: 3 Course Dinner for One
Whilst I waited for the camera to arrive I thought that maybe it would be nice to invite our little guest to a dinner party. So I made a little table and a chair out of lollipop sticks, gluing them together with hot glue. You can see the process on the photos. After finishing the setup I chopped up some cheese, chorizo and a biscuit and popped it all into one of those plastic ferrero rocher holders.
I took the little "dinner party" and placed it under the kitchen cupboard. Then I pointed the camera at it and setup the motion detection alarm. Then we waited and waited...
A week went by and we hadn't heard anything, which made me a little sad to think that after all my effort, I may never see the little creature, but that quickly changed. Soon enough the scratching had returned, but this time it was in the dinning room. It was coming from in between the walls, all around the window etc. this would occur three to four times a day. It took another three days for the little visitor to get back into the kitchen before we finally managed to catch the little bugger on camera and discover what we were dealing with.
To my disappointment it was not the cute little mousey I'd hoped for, but a naughty rat (still very cute though). I knew we had to do something, but for now I didn't consider a single rat to be a severe problem, surely we can just catch it, realise it and everybody would be happy?
At this point in time I didn't really know very much about rats, all I could tell was that it was intensively attempting to gain access to the inside of the house, fortunately though it was confined to in between the walls, under the floor, and the attic. I realised, the only area both of us had access to was underneath the kitchen cupboards.
Step 2: IKEA Trap
Everybody who we spoke to about our problem said use poison, but that didn't feel right. This creature was not doing anything wrong (for now) so I thought, if we could just catch it and let it go somewhere far away, that would be it, and end of problem.. I remembered I have this windowsill sized greenhouse bought at IKEA a long time ago, which I didn't use anymore and I thought this could work as a nice trap to catch the unwanted intruder.
To make the trap you're going to need:
- IKEA greenhouse or something similar, I wouldn't recommend a glass one, that could easily brake
- duct tape, sewing needle and thread, two large paper clips and a nice juicy piece of bacon
First of all take out one of the sides of the greenhouse and flip it inside out. Tape the inverted side back on the greenhouse with duct tape. Put the duct tape all around the base, since the bottom is not permanently fix on. Measure about three lengths of the green house with the thread and cut. Fold it once and feed it through the needle. Grab your nice piece of juicy bacon, sew through it and make couple of knots. Take one of the paper clips, straighten it and tie few knots at one of the ends. Cut a little opening in the duct tape on the other side of the green house, take your second paper clip and feed the thread through the clip. Secure the clip on the side of the greenhouse with more duct tape. Add more tape to the top of the greenhouse, these little creatures are quite powerful and you wouldn't want them to escape once captured. To set the trap, pull the acrylic window up and prop it with the straightened clip and that's it. When the rat sees the bacon it will try to take it, but that will pull the thread which is tied to the clip propping the acrylic side. (as my video demonstrates)
At first I placed the trap next to the kitchen cupboard and removed the piece of wooden skirting that was keeping the area closed, but this would obstruct the garage entrance so I had to find another way. I remembered that in one of the kitchen cupboards in a previous year had to screw a piece of mdf board to the side to keep spiders out so I removed it and emptied out the cupboard. Next I placed the trap into the kitchen cupboard I had prepared and again pointed the camera at it, so that we could monitor the situation. I also placed duct tape around the cupboard door to ensure that my experiment would remain confined to this single kitchen cupboard and not allow for any kind of accidental breach into the house.
I heard that rats are quite cautious and they don't like changes, so the first day I didn't arm the trap, instead I placed the "dinner party" setup inside, which they didn't seem to take much interest in :-(. So I removed it and instead placed just the little dinner plate with cheese, bacon and biscuit. I also took a bottle top and filled it with peanut butter. If you watch my video you can see how the greedy little thing took the whole tray and retreated back into hiding.
Step 3: Freedom, But for Whom?
So we finally caught our rat, he tried very hard to find a way out but failed. Isn't he cute, if you try to forget about all of the diseases and germs that he'd be carrying :-) (not actually sure if it is a he, but I didn't fancy the idea of checking :D).
Once the rat was trapped, I placed more duct tape along the top and the opening side, also just to make sure he wouldn't escape I placed the greenhouse into a large storage box. We then drove a considerable distance to a field where we would release the beast back into the wild.
Having studied the days leading up to the capture of our rat, it became clear that it wasn't just one rat that we were dealing with, but an entire family. So even though I wanted to be nice and do the right thing by catching and realising I knew that was not going to be possible. On our way back home we bought a bucket full of rat poison pouches and placed them everywhere we could, under the cupboards, in the attic and anywhere else we thought they might have access to . . .
The very next day I started panicking. I could hear the scratching and gnawing from nearly every room. I didn't know what to do so we called the pest control people. Couple of days later a pest control guy turned up and tolled us we were already doing everything he would've done. A few days later the noises started to quieten down. I felt a little bad because I knew what that meant, however there was no other way to win this battle. The rats became very cautious about the cupboard and didn't want to venture there anymore so there was no way I would have manage to capture them all.
Step 4: You Can't Catch Em All
You can't catch em all, unless you can, lol. In which case I take my hat off to you, I was not prepared to run the risk of allowing them to break into the living area of the house.
Later on I realised that our family of rats had discovered a new place to enter. They seemed to like the gas/electric cupboard, where nobody ever goes. At first I would give them a new poison pouch every time they took the old one, but they would quickly return and take the new one. So I decided to pin the pouch onto a piece of A4 paper and replace it only when they finish eating it. That way they couldn't take it away and I could keep an eye on their consumption rate. They seemed to loose interest in exploring the other places in our house once they had learnt of a regular supply of food / rat poison.
Only now I can fully appreciate what everybody was telling me about the poison. If I had to face the same situation again I would probably just go and buy the poison straight away. However I did leave a little mouse trap next to the poison with a piece of bacon, just to make myself feel better that I had given them a "choice" between life and death. Only the little ones though (mouse size) would have been able to squeeze in if they'd tried, in which case I would have released them just like the first one, but they were not interested unfortunately.
The poison we bought was the Rentokil rat & mouse killer pasta bait, it smells like bubble gum, so I'm not surprised they ate nearly all of the packaging as well. It came in little bucket and there were two red trays included, which the rats seemed to like a lot and so they disappeared with the poison pouch.
Some information about the poison that contains Difenacoum: The rodents feel fine, suffering no pain and therefore they continue to feed as normal, consuming a lethal dose before succumbing to the effects of the poison. This is important, as rats in particular will quickly stop eating anything that they associate with danger. In the latter stages of poisoning, the rodents feel lethargic and tend to stay in their nests, where most of them die.
Step 5: Rattus Norvegicus
The Brown Rat is the larger of the rats in Britain, often weighing over half a kilo and measuring about 23cm, without counting the tail. It has a blunt muzzle, small hair-covered ears and a tail that is shorter than its body.
Rats have well developed senses of smell taste and touch. They have an acute sense of hearing, frequently using ultrasound to communicate, and are particularly sensitive to any sudden noise. Both species breed rapidly and become sexually mature in about three months. Each female may produce from 3 to 12 litters of between six and eight young in a year. Rats need to gnaw to keep their constantly growing incisor teeth worn down. They damage woodwork, plastic, bricks and lead pipes, and will strip insulation from electrical cables.
Brown Rats live in any situation that provides food, water and shelter. In homes, they will live in roof spaces, wall cavities or under floorboards. In gardens, they will burrow into grassy banks or under sheds. Brown Rats are often found living in sewer systems.
Rats feed mostly at night and an average rat will eat 50g of food a day. Preferred foods are cereal products, although rats are omnivorous and will eat almost anything that humans eat.
Rats carry many nasty diseases which they can spread to humans, normally through their urine. including; Leptospirosis or Weil's disease, Salmonella, Listeria, Toxoplasma gondii and Hantavirus.
Rats can inflict a great amount of structural damage. They can cause serious fires by gnawing away the insulation around electrical cables, floods by puncturing pipes and even death by chewing through gas pipes. The insurance sector have estimated that rodent damage to wiring is responsible for 25% of all electrical fires in buildings.
Step 6: Conclusion
It took us nearly a month to get rid of them and we ended up with about 6 hours of usable CCTV footage and even though it was quite entertaining to watch the rats in real time, I'm certainly very glad it's over now. We left poison pouches at all of the places we know they used to go, and we check them regularly. I hope we never have to deal with the same situation ever again, but if so, without thinking about it I'll be buying more poison. I don't even want to imagine all of the damage they caused to the house that we can't see.
Hope you enjoyed my Instructable and I wish you all a lovely day ;)
PS: Everybody says how the rats love peanut butter, all I can say is that my rats must've been broken or something, they never even took a single interest or even gave it a propper sniff :D