Is this rats or something else?

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  #1  
Old 02-27-19, 11:21 AM
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Is this rats or something else?

I thought I would start a new thread here and include a picture because now I am not sure what I am dealing with. To recap, a couple of weeks ago I got my crawl space cleaned out and they only insulated the ducts with unfaced insulation secured around it by twine. In that short period of time, something got back in there and is shredding the insulation off of a section of the duct and creating a huge pile on the ground. Due to the size of it, I am wondering if rats are even capable of doing this or if this could be something else like a squirrel. I do know where it is getting in and out as there is a good sized gap about 3 inches which I have blocked off part of it so now it just about 3 inches by a foot long. I shoved some paper in there and when i check back, it has been moved within a day or two. I have 5 traps set inside now and 6 outside along with a bait box. The bait box has a brick on it yet something managed to move it the other day so I put a bigger brick on it. I also put a cage trap inside for a few days in case it was a squirrel, but thought if it was a squirrel it might be better to put that cage outside so I just did that. Take a look a the picture and let me know if a rat could have done this much damage in 2 weeks.

Insulation pic
 
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  #2  
Old 02-27-19, 11:57 AM
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That's a serious pile of insulation. Rats typically tear up just what they need to enter/exit. This does appear to be larger. I once saw the damage that a ground hog did to fiber duct and this reminds me of that. I suspect that you have a similar sized animal in there, although squirrels do a lot of damage, too.

Does any part of the structure cantilever out overtop of the foundation wall? The groundhog I referenced was coming in over top of the foundation wall, but underneath the cantilevered part of structure as there was fibre board where plywood should have been.
 
  #3  
Old 02-27-19, 02:16 PM
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Here are a couple more pictures to help illustrate it better. This shows the outside of the crawlspace. There is no poured foundation as this room addition is on posts but I enclosed it with plywood. Above the conduit, you will see some screen between the plywood and the joist which sits out a few inches from the edge of the plywood. Apparently, I missed screening a section way down at the far end as you can see HERE. It is a few inches wide and it looks worn/rounded. I shoved that piece of paper towel in there 2 days ago and yesterday it was still in place but today it was moved so something came in or out. It doesn't show well in this picture, but to left of that downspout is a partial concrete wall so they could either go on top of it and hop into that hole, or climb up from the ground as seen in the other picture. I am in Washington state and I don't think there are any groundhogs here, but plenty of squirrels . I hope this helps.
 
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Old 02-28-19, 03:01 PM
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If that is the entry/exit point than this animal(s) can't be much bigger than a squirrel.

If I understand this right, if you can cover that portion with screen than the animal will be effectively excluded. The kicker is, we want it to be excluded, not trapped inside.

I know that the bat exclusion people use mesh/rubber/tarp, etc and hang it along the areas where bats enter/exit for the purpose of acting as a one-way valve or excluder. I've never done that but think about that as there may be a solution in that, although how will we know if it is gone. I'll continue thinking about this.
 
  #5  
Old 02-28-19, 04:28 PM
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Correct. Once I seal that up, it should be excluded. I was thinking of a one way type of door but didn't know how. Would you conclude that this is most likely not a rat though? I have a cage trap set with peanuts outside for now in case it is squirrels.
 
  #6  
Old 02-28-19, 05:38 PM
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You're just going to have to trap for both rats and squirrels. I had both in my attic. Took a long time to get them all out.


I suggest peanut butter rather than peanuts as bait. A crafty squirrel might be able to lift the peanuts without setting off the trap.
 
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Old 03-01-19, 06:33 AM
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it ate my post
 
  #8  
Old 03-01-19, 10:42 AM
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I actually have the peanuts tied down so they can't just take them away. The cage trap has been out there for 2 days and caught nothing but the pile of insulation on the ground is getting bigger. I am not too thrilled about this idea in case something jumps out at me, but if I go in there and thoroughly look at the duct, I would have to see if they are in there. And since the crawl space is small (only 20'x25'), would it be pretty easy to tell if everything is out? If they aren't in the insulation pile on the ground or on the duct, the only other places for them to hide would be on top of the beams, unless they go under the plastic on the ground. I am thinking if I make sure nothing is in there, I could seal that hole off. Or if I call pest control or an animal trapper, are they going to do anything different than what I am doing?
 
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Old 03-02-19, 07:29 AM
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Make sure that this animal isn't actually inside the ductwork, too.

Otherwise, there's no solid answer to your questions as to determining if the animal is gone, as we have more questions than information. One of the first things that a reputable trapper would do is to identify specifically what animal(s) is doing this as that will point you in a direction based on the animals habits, food, behaviors etc which would lead to a trapping/exclusion strategy.

Are there any fecal droppings inside or outside? Any urine or musk type odors? For as much activity as is taking place there must be other physical evidence nearby.

I know if it was me tasked with figuring this out, I'd be in there with serious gloves, lights, head lamps, knee pads and a long, stout screwdriver type tool that is easier to wield defensively than other things. I would advance and move slowly, watching and listening intently but slowly. Upon discovery, I'd back off and learn/think about what to do about that particular animal. That's just me, I'm not advising other to do that. If one is nervous or apprehensive about this, then don't do it as panic and over reaction in confined quarters will cause even more trouble and possible injury. My advice to those attempting to treat hornet/wasp nests is the same; if you're nervous then don't do it as bad things will happen. If one is nervous about climbing a ladder then don't do it. No shame in recognizing nervousness in ourselves.

If you should chose to hire a pro trapper, go with word of mouth from trusted people. You also should try to get someone local, or relatively so.

Consider cover the trap with leaves/branches/debris that is common to that immediate area. I'd move it inside now as it may be easier for the animal to find and may allow it to feel more secure. Maybe smear some peanut butter in there to get odor going, as well as the visual appeal of the peanuts.
 
  #10  
Old 03-02-19, 04:40 PM
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I might get someone to go check it out with me. If we both start at one end, we should be able to see everything in there. I don't see how it could get inside the metal ductwork. I also thought of wrapping the insulation around the ducts with hardware cloth. I'll let you know how it goes .
 
  #11  
Old 03-03-19, 02:22 AM
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Could it be a cat that is getting in there in the middle of the night?
 
  #12  
Old 03-03-19, 05:39 PM
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The only opening is that small gap I posted that is about 2-3 inches wide so it can't be a cat.
 
  #13  
Old 03-05-19, 08:32 AM
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I didn't get around to it the other day but tomorrow I should have time to go look around under there with someone else. In addition to looking in the disturbed area and cleaning out the pile of insulation on the ground, would wrapping the duct in chicken wire help? I know that a rat could squeeze through chicken wire if it is used as a barrier, but if the insulation is wrapped in it, do you think it would prevent or discourage them from shredding it? They can't really dig it up if there is wire in the way can they? And I should be able to just do this along the top and sides rather than the whole thing, as I don't think they can go upside down.
 
  #14  
Old 03-05-19, 01:40 PM
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The chicken wire would probably inhibit activity, but not necessarily stop it. Again, we don't know what animal is doing this. Proper ID is an important step here. In any case, a rat or squirrel can go upside down if it has something to hold on to. Squirrels back feet can rotate 180 degrees for gripping.

I'm thinking that tomorrow you're going to know more, which will hopefully get us going in a good direction. Keep us posted.
 
  #15  
Old 03-06-19, 01:34 PM
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I went in there with my dad today and we checked out the whole crawl space. It looks like the animals started at the far end of the round metal duct and got into about 6-8 feet of it. We had bright lights in there to light up the whole area in addition to head lamps so we could see very well. We started with a long shovel and banged on the duct and the insulation around it and nothing scattered out. We also took it and disturbed the pile on the ground and nothing. I ruffled the plastic on the ground as well. It looks like the insulation on the top of the duct has been removed down to the bare metal, but the interesting thing is they didn't just scatter it all over the place. It was all in a large pile but not directly underneath the entire duct so they definitely moved it because it was all on one side of it as well. I did notice a few droppings around there which appear to be rat, and some were probably left from before that fell from the beams, but there were a few on the duct so it looks like it was rats up there. Also, that gap I showed the picture of is actually big enough to get a hand through but I don't know if a squirrel could fit through it. So anyways, we were in there and around the outside for a couple of hours and did not hear or see anything. I should also note on Monday, I had some guys out installing some HVAC lines so they were in and out of there all day. After they left, I put a loose screen over that gap so something could come out if it was in there but that was untouched so nothing came in or out for 2 days. The pile on the ground also looked the same size as it did since late last week. We carefully looked all around and that was the only opening we saw so I sealed it up. I put two traps on top of the bare duct, and 3 more along their egress route (I didn't put them all the way down that end before so they are in a better location). In addition, I have a bait box and 6 traps along the entire perimeter of the outside of the crawlspace. I took out the pile of insulation so I can see if more drops. Hopefully this gives you a better idea of what is going on. Do you think that since the insulation was in a somewhat neat pile rather than just dropped wherever it fell, that they were starting a nest there? Or just playing around in there?
 
  #16  
Old 03-07-19, 07:39 AM
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Also, is there anything I can spray or put around the area of there former entrance to cover up their scent so future rats don't pick it up, or is that necessary?
 
  #17  
Old 03-07-19, 08:15 AM
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When you describe the pile of insulation as appearing to have been created on purpose it reminded me of a story. Fall trip to a hunting camp (lodge) in southern NJ that was closed up at end of hunting the previous year. Before closing many d-con mouse bait boxes were placed all around. When we went inside the person who put those bait boxes there said, wow we must have got them all, all of the bait boxes were empty. A little while later he was going to fix some lunch and while laughing very hard called me over to take a look. When he opened the silverware drawer it was filled to overflowing with that missing d-con bait. Seems the mice thought it would be fair play to bait our silverware drawer.

Maybe these mice were related to the rats from Nimh.

Never did find any dead mice.

Bud
 
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Old 03-07-19, 03:00 PM
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dm888: I'd think that the rats/animals were making the nesting on the duct work and it simply dropped onto the same place on the floor rather than them making a nest on the floor/ground. On the other hand, it could have just been a "chewing" instinct taking over. Remember, they are animals and think like animals, we are human and tend to think like humans.

A squirrel could get through a "hand sized" opening.

I'd feel better about closing/sealing now that you've had much disruption to their peace and quiet, but continue paying attention just in case you trap one inside.

Bud: Rodents do store pellets like that. I've experienced and heard similar stories. There is potential for accidental pet poisoning because the pellets may get stashed in a couch or similar item and a dog can be introduced to the area and find them. I've preferred bait blocks because of that, but even they aren't immune to getting stashed. This is a reason why "tamper proof" bait stations are required more often and are a wise idea, though pricey.
 
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Old 03-08-19, 11:53 AM
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Ok, sounds good. No activity so far, although its only been 2 days. But I guess if we count from Monday when I loosely plugged the whole, nothing has gone in for 4 days. I will keep you updated. Would it be a good idea to place more bait boxes around the yard? At this point, I just have one of those Tomcat's that I showed you once outside of the crawlspace and another one on the other side of the house. Is there a rule of thumb as to how many or how far apart they should be placed? I did run across a couple in the bushes once so apparently the previous owners over 10 years ago had some around. I should probably get those heavy duty ones you showed me a while ago. With bait, do you need to change it out every once in awhile, or just when it is empty?
 
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Old 03-13-19, 02:44 PM
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OK, I'm back.

As far as more bait boxes, do we know for sure that we are dealing with rats? If it's squirrels or something related, then bait boxes probably won't help.

Wouldn't hurt to have some bait boxes with fresh bait in them, semi-permanently at least. Yes, the bait needs to be fresh. Prolonged high temps/humidity will render it undesirable. Once a month changing should be enough, unless rain water enters station. You'll get a feel for how often is needed when you check it, at least weekly. You'll see how the bait looks when brand new and how it changes color, composition, etc over time.

If you are still without activity, then I'd lean towards serious exclusion now and see what happens. I still wish we knew specifically what was causing the problem; it always helps to know.
 
  #21  
Old 03-14-19, 11:44 AM
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Its been 8 days now since I sealed that up and removed the insulation (actually 10 days since that entrance was disturbed because I shoved some paper in it 2 days earlier when the workers were out here) and no more mess. I have been checking it daily and there was a mouse in one of the traps on the ground inside the crawlspace today. I suppose it could have been in the trap a few days because I would have had to crawl way inside to see this trap and I don't think I did that since Monday. I have been checking from the door daily and can at least see if there is disturbed insulation. Anyways, I did permanently seal the big hole last week so there really is nothing else to seal. My next step will be to dig that trench and bury the screen in the ground. While I am pretty sure it was rat droppings I saw on the duct when I was cleaning it up, I can't be 100% sure that there were no squirrels in there. I really don't think the insulation just fell in that pile though because it was not directly underneath. But even if it wasn't rats, I know there have been rats so it will be worthwhile to keep baiting.

So first of all, what type of bait do you recommend? I have those tomcat blocks and it says they contain .01% bromethalin and I see a whole bunch of different types of bait on that site you showed me. Is what I have ok, or does the other stuff work better? Should I just keep these bait boxes in that area, or spread them around my whole yard? Is there a certain distance these cover? Is this something I am going to have to do forever? It is simple enough if I just have to add bait to the boxes once a month or even once every couple of weeks, but hopefully I don't have to keep checking traps in the crawl space every few days. As far as the mice go, am I going to just get a stray one in there every now and then? I would imagine even if I thought I sealed every hole, since they can get through such a small hole, I may have missed something. Then again, maybe that mouse was already inside. Hopefully that bait works on them too. Ok, I better stop asking all the questions for now since you just got back. I am feeling a lot better now than I did last week when I was getting pretty discouraged and ready to call pest control. But if all they would do is check bait boxes every month, I can do that. I really appreciate all of your help.


Edit: One more thing I just thought of... They sprayed some disinfectant or something when they cleaned the space out. It was so bad, it might need another dose to get rid of any residual odor that was up in the joists where the insulation was because I still can smell a hint of it. What do they use for that?
 
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Old 03-14-19, 04:04 PM
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Sounds like progress; glad to hear it. I'm sure you've learned a lot.

Bromethalin is excellent active ingredient as are all the others. What's important is that the bait be palatable and acceptable to the rodents. Between bait blocks, meal/cereal, pellets and the soft bait the rodents will have a preference. Here in this part of the country it doesn't seem like the pellets are accepted as much and in fact they will sometimes be stashed by rodents in preperation for winter. It can cause trouble as I've known of pellets being discovered in furniture and in storage boxes and such because of this stashing behavior. Imagine if a dog found the pellets under a cushion. Bait blocks and meal are not removed from bait boxes such as pellets.

Two active ingredients that I would suggest staying away from are Diphacinone and Warfarin. They are the "first generation" anticoagulants meaning that it takes multiple feedings by the same rodent to become lethal. The others are "second generation" meaning that a single feeding is toxic enough to be lethal.
Contrac blox are a favorite of mine both for acceptance and good active ingredient. The "soft baits" that look like bubble gum are taking the rodent baiting business by storm. Very appealing to rodents. Maybe try a small box/bucket of them with a block type bait and see what you like. This is how we learn for future rodent work.

The bait stations are best used by placing them against a structure, wall, etc as rats like to run along an edge and feel that edge. Mice not so much. I would suggest keeping them along the perimeter, both inside and outside with the openings against the wall/structure so that a rat running along the wall will tend to see and run right into it.

I'll post about disinfectants soon.
 
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Old 03-14-19, 04:14 PM
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I've never used any of these except for Bac a Zap which is for odors, not a disinfectant or virus-cide. From what I'm reading, the operators who do disinfecting seem to prefer the Nisus DSV. First figure out if you want disinfectanct and odor control or just odor control and that may help you make a selection.

https://search.domyown.com/search?w=disinfectant


Follow up to previous post: You're bound to get an occasional mouse; I keep traps and bait in basement, garage and attic of my house and sometimes catch a mouse. This spring I'm going to get serious about rodent proofing our house, but I'm realistic enough to know that once in a whiie we're going to get one.
 
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Old 03-14-19, 04:28 PM
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I have a bunch of those bait blocks that came with those boxes I have so I will change those out for now. Maybe I will keep 2 boxes around the perimeter of this area (which is about 50 total feet of wall) and one more on the other side of the house because I have some lumber stored near there. I am actually more interested in odor control because I am still getting a little bit of odor so maybe I will try the Bac a Zap. Would it help to actually leave the crawl space door open for awhile when the weather gets nicer, sealing it up with screen of course, just to let it air out?
 
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Old 03-14-19, 05:07 PM
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Fresh, dry air and sunshine as possible are always good in crawl spaces. I think that's a good idea.
 
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Old 03-26-19, 11:43 AM
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It's been 3 weeks and there has been no more damage inside and I have not caught a rat inside or out. The insulation guys had to come back to fix something so they wrapped that section of duct again. Anyways, the two traps on the duct were untouched but the 2 of the 3 on the ground inside the crawlspace had all the peanut butter gone. All of the traps along the outside of the crawlspace also had the peanut butter gone (all of these traps had not been triggered either so it must have been something small). I put a bait box inside about a week ago and a little bit of that had been chewed. Considering I have caught a mouse inside and one outside in the rat traps, does it sound like mice are eating the bait? Or maybe even ants? Would you set mouse traps inside, or just leave it as is and let the bait kill them?
 

Last edited by dm888; 03-26-19 at 12:06 PM.
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Old 03-26-19, 01:46 PM
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I personally always have rodenticide (fresh) in our basement and utility areas even with snap traps set. Sometimes the traps don't go off as easily after they've been set a long time, sometimes they go off too easy. Insects do eat the bait, sometimes mice can lick it off, sometimes it loses its appeal. That's why I keep rodenticide in place.

If mice are licking the pnut butter off, you could tie or securely fasten cotton to the trigger and smear pnut butter on the cotton. They tend to pull on it.

Sounds to me like you've made progress; are you happy with how it's going?
 
  #28  
Old 03-26-19, 04:14 PM
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Ok, so you would stick with the rat traps instead of mouse traps as well? I am very happy with how things are going now. Hopefully the rats are gone from both there and my attic. I will go up on the roof this spring and look carefully for any holes and seal up around the chimney where I think they were getting in along with burying screen around the crawlspace. If it is just mice, I am not too concerned. I will definitely get more bait boxes and put them all around the house. If nothing touches bait for a while, is that a good sign meaning the population is down or bad because they don't go after it? Anyways, those boxes seem simple enough since I don't have to go under the crawlspace as often. I really appreciate your help because I was getting very frustrated and ready to call someone. I can buy a lot of bait and traps with the money I saved!
 
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Old 03-27-19, 05:39 AM
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I would keep a variety of traps, bait, etc in place at least until everything is well sealed. If the rodent bait isn't being consumed, that may be because the rodents aren't there or the palatability isn't there anymore. These are things that you will learn as you continue to inspect the bait, traps and perimeters. You can put different types of bait in the same station for comparison and rodent choice. Some bait will get moldy quicker than other locations; some traps will work better than others and that can vary between locations. Humidity and temperature and location will affect each bait station and trap differently and you will see which locations give you a better/longer period between inspections. The only person to make this assessment is whoever is on scene and doing the regular inspections. Just get started on some kind of schedule. As you observe the condition of the bait/traps you will know how to adjust the time spacing between inspections as well as trying new locations. No textbook way to do this, just get started and get a "history" started.
 
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