getting rid of rats

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I recently have done battle with rats in my garage. Since usenet was a big help to me, I thought I'd summarize what worked for me and what didn't. I hope this info helps someone in the future.
The biggest problem (to me) is that rats carry many diseases, most unpleasant, some fatal. This fact alone may lead you to retain a professional exterminator. Unfortunately, it is my belief that exterminators don't *kill* many rats, but just drive them away. My infestation closely followed an episode where my neighbor had a rat problem and hired an exterminator. I think they just moved up the street. So, if you go this route, you may not be doing any favors to your neighbors by hiring an exterminator. If you DIY, then, wear a respirator and gloves, and wash your clothes thoroughly and often. I used a mix of bleach, ammonia, and soap and water daily.
IMO, traps by themselves are basically useless. Rats are cautious, and are pretty smart. At the least, if you use traps, bait them but don't arm them, so the rats become comfortable. Then arm them and you may nail a few if they are optimists.
The traditional approach is poison bait. The most common poison is warfarin, which is an anticoagulant. Unfortunately, rats evolve very quickly, at least metabolically, and have become resistant to warfarin. I had absolutely no food in my garage, but I found that the rats had made their nest in an old box of DCON warfarin-based rat poision (?!). A more modern poison uses bromethalin, but I am afraid rats are adapting to this, also. Bromethalin attacks the myelin sheath on the nerves (like polio). I never got bromethalin to actually kill a rat, but it slows them down so that other approaches become more effective.
Rats will take the bait back to their nests and hoard it, so I would recommend using cubes of bait (rather than loose grains) and then leave some cubes loose (for rats to take home) and fasten some down, so they are forced to eat those in place. After a few days, I began noticing rat tails in my driveway. The local predators were having a field day with my wacked-out rats. Also, my traps began to work as the rats were becoming disabled.
It seemed like the really big rats could tolerate the bromethalin the best, and never really slowed down that much, but at least by that point I had interrupted the life cycle by nailing the pups. At that point I played my ace, which is antifreeze. Rats apparently like the smell and the taste. The largest rat literally keeled over while drinking antifreeze.
I have been rat-free for a week, but have no delusions that the war is over. At least I won the opening round. I will be looking for additional poisons, beyond the bromethalin and antifreeze, and I plan to experiment with electrocution.
In summary, I would say:
*lead off with a bromethalin-based poison *keep rebaiting, and after a few days introduce traps *at first, use the traps unarmed, to breed familiarity, then *arm the traps. Continue to bait. At this point, warfarin may be of some use on already-weakened rats. *after a week or so of poisoning, introduce antifreeze to hit the biggest ones.
Then, clean up thoroughly. No food available at all. Close up any possible access points. Leave out bait blocks as a tell-tale.
What a drag. :(
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Mr_Bill wrote: The biggest problem (to me) is that rats carry many diseases, most unpleasant, some fatal.
Not only diseases ! My swimming pool heat pump stopped working a few weeks ago and I discovered that rats had eaten half of the control panel wiring harness- right through the metal wires. I worked as an exterminator while I was in college and agree with most of what you have recomended except that I have much more respect for traps than you do. Baited with attractive bait like half cooked bacon, I have found traps to be best. Its essential to tie the bait down onto the tongue/trigger. Set out a lot of traps and remove them all after catching a few. Wait a week and reset in different locations with different bait. Traps are messy though- nobody enjoys disposing of rat corpses.
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Mr_Bill wrote:

[...]
Cat: the ecologically-friendly rat-eradicator.
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My neighbor had a rat in the house the other day - obviously brought home by the cat to be played with.
Bob
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wrote:

The problem with cats is they kill everything else too. You might as well just dose the place with poison.
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wrote:

I am a farmer and always have rats getting into my grain room on the barn. I have 16 cats. I purposely leave the door open to that room so the cats can get in there. The cats DO NOT kill rats. They do a great job with mice, but not the rats.
What DOES work, is a 5 gallon bucket. Fill it half way with water, then sprinkle a large handfull of raw oats on top and close the door. Rats will always drown when they go in the bucket.
I am curious how the OP "feeds" the antifreeze? What kind of container, etc????
Mark
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snipped-for-privacy@UNLISTED.com wrote:

You don't have cats, you have pussies.
During the middle ages, the Church became convinced that cats were the "familiars" and hand-maidens of Satan and cats were largely exterminated throughout Europe. Mice and rats multiplied unabated and the Black Death followed.
One-third of Europe died.
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wrote:

This is the same mentality that decided old women were "witches" and tortured/murdered/burned alive untold numbers of innocent old women. Scholars differ on the numbers involved - from millions to hundreds of thousands -- but not on the documented existence of this dreadful, mindless holocaust.
Mentality carried across the ocean to Salem, in the not-too-distant past.
Hallowe'en is just around the corner. Witches riding on broomsticks - same stereotype visualization sold in every supermarket aisle.
Very thin veneer of "civilization" on us savages. Sapiens? Hah!
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aspasia wrote:

You'll have to admit, though, after the Salem trials we didn't have any more trouble with witches.
Now in a similar vein, I'm gonna tell you something that may save your life!
This business about a wooden stake in the heart to kill a vampire is pure Hollywood bullshit. If you read Bram Stoker's book, "Dracula," you'll see that what's required is a BOWIE KNIFE, not some pissant tent peg!
I'm in Texas. We have a LOT of Bowie knives in Texas and do NOT have a vampire problem.
Your milage may vary...
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wrote:

Getting a little pussie is a good thing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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replying to HeyBub, tortugato wrote: IMPORTANT NOTE!: I didn't read all the comments--this may have been addressed--but NEVER use ammonia and bleach together. They have a chemical reaction that forms a poison gas, used in trench warfare in WW I. Bleach is excellent for cleaning up pathogens, bacterial, and I understand even viral. Bleach will bring back whites stained by substances, but not grease. Ammonia is semi-antibacterial, but excellent with grease and oil based cleaning. If one must use both bleach & ammonia, use the ammonia first, and let it thoroughly dry. Ammonia will completely go to a gaseous state, thus no residue. Then use the bleach, but a caution: if you clean with a heavy bleach solution, the water can dry and leave solid bleach residue. Powdered forms of bleach have been on the market. If you later use ammonia, you could have the bleach/ammonia reaction, and damage your lungs or worse.
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You are right, cats do not kill rats. The rats are too big for a cat to kill a full grown rat, babies maybe. Cats specialize on mice, voles and other small rodents. The real rat killer is a dog. They are big enough and strong enough to take on a rat and win. You need a good sized strong hunting type dog, and they will get rid of the rats and enjoy the challenge.

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EXT wrote:

Your point is well taken. Still, if you kill enough babies, the vermin dies out.
Some say this is what's happening to political liberals in the US (see "Roe Effect").
For example, there were 75,000 abortions in Florida in 1980. Were it not for the abortions, those 75,000 would have voted in their first election in 2000. Bush won Florida by 500-odd votes and with it, the presidency. How would those 75,000 missing votes influenced the outcome?
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wrote:

Probably not. Felons can't vote in Florida.
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My sister is infested like you would not believe. She resisted putting out poison because she has house dogs. I think the mice are interested in the dog's food.
Anyway, the dogs she has are small. She had one of the dogs eat one of the mice. The vet has told her that the dogs would have to eat more than one to be in any danger. She was not going to take a chance on poison one of her pets.
She plans to put down sticky strips next.
I was most interested by your ace in the hole. Antifreeze. I would be interested if anyone has knowledge if Antifreeze would pose the same danger to house animals as poison does.
She put the poison in places like closets and under kitchen sink so she could be sure that the dogs could not directly get the poison.
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wrote:

Don't put anti-freeze out, it will kill your animals.

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On Sun, 22 Oct 2006 15:24:30 -0700, "Eigenvector"

Yes, antifreeze is deadly for ALL animals and for humans. BUT, I'd consider it before poison because mice and rats can carry poison pellets or chunks of rodent blocks where other animals can get to it, even if you hide the pellets or blocks. I see no way they could carry anifreeze, and antifreeze kills them fast, whereas poison takes days to work.
Interesting fact. Warfarin (rat + mouse poison) is also given to humans as a high blood pressure medication. Yeah, that shocked me too.
Mark
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wrote:

It is not a high pressure medication as far as I know. It is a "blood thinner" - it helps avoid blood clots. I believe it does the same for rats - they just bleed to death internally at high doses.
Bob
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wrote:

Interesting.... My elderly uncle is in a nursing home and he's getting it for blood pressure, but I suppose a thinner blood may help the pressure too. I found this out because my mother (his sister) was concerned he was getting too many pills from different doctors and there might be an interaction. I told her to get the nursing home to make a list of everything he takes and what it's for, then present the list to his main doctor. I also told her to make a photocopy so I could look them up on the internet. That's how I found out and that Warfarin got me shocked till I read about it.
As for the rats and mice, let em bleed. They could all die as far as I'm concerned ! I tolerate mice, but rats completely freak me out. It dont matter if I am a grown man and a farmer, I still get panicky when I see rats and probably always will.
Mark
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You might want to look into this further. As far as I can find, it is an anti-coagulant. It reduces clotting. I found no mention of blood pressure.
Bob
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