Ack! I saw a rat - are ultrasonic repellers safe for other wildlife

:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: or little ones next door dropping their snacks all over :wink:.
I do not feed birdseed because I’ve seen the kick out attract rodents in the past. I have to be contented with a hummingbird feeder, though now I am experimenting with a live mealworm feeder suspended in a tree. The worms are usually gone very quickly.

No, ever since I got rid of the birdseed feeders a decade or more ago, I’ve not seen any sign of rodents, like droppings or chewed stuff.

I find that reassuring, too.

Although, to be fair, I’m pretty sure rats raid bird bird nests. My cats have been indoors all their lives and they are getting old. One likes to hang around on the patio. Until recently, she had no interest in stalking. We keep her under surveillance if she’s on the patio.

1 Like

I’d advise looking around your yard and neighborhood for a source of food/habitat for the rats. Since they live in colonies and don’t wander far on their own it’s likely that there’s a lot more around (not trying to scare you or anything, most of us are likely living alongside a few hundred rats and we just don’t notice them). It’s possible that there may be an uninhabited patch of land or trash bags laying around that may attract the rodents more than usual. If that’s the case you would need to remove it or tidy up the place, assuming its on your property or if you have permission from the property’s owner.
If you don’t wish to use traps because you’d rather not have any contact with rats at all, and also don’t want to use poison (which personally I never recommend unless its the last option available) you could try and contact someone with ratting dogs, like terriers and lurchers. These can be a very effective and nature-friendly way of dealing with pests, since dogs have powerful noses that can locate rats with ease. Speaking from personal experience, they are also very effective at killing them, with the rats being dead in a matter of seconds. Only downsides are that its not so easy to find such a service and that the dogs may have to dig around your yard in order to get to the rats that may be hiding underground.
If you’re curious about pest control with ratting dogs, I’d recommend The Mink Man’s youtube channel. Him and his team have even killed over 250 rats in a single day, so they are very proficient in their line of work.

1 Like

That is certainly impressive! If there is such a service around here, I have a friend with several acres who would adore that. I’ll send her the link to Mink Man.

I figure, ratters may be overkill in my patio yard - yet, I wonder if the people next door would split the cost? The condo next door has a raised wooden patio and several small children that dribble a fair amount of food around. Twice in the last six months, they’ve come to my patio for popcorn - it looks like little patches of snow around the table. In the past, I blew it off into my leaf compost pile (not normally used for food). I will be sure to keep popcorn swept up instead going forward.

On the other side of me is community greenspace that’s planted with ivy, shrubs, and trees. It’s tidy for what it is, but still rather nice rodent habitat (do they eat snails?)

1 Like

As gcsnelling stated previously, yep the “ultrasonic traps” they sell for rodents and other pests are total scams. Also things like mint oil and coyote urine are not productive in deterring a determined or established rat population. I would highly recommend Shawn Woods YouTube channel, he has fantastic information about rats, mice, gophers and other environmentally friendly methods of deterring invasive pests.
For now though, if the rat does not make any recurring appearances or starts causing any property damage, you are most likely best off not worrying about it. Things that can help keep them from showing up around the property can be as simple as just cleaning up brush piles, dead foliage, rockeries/rock piles, and English ivy/ other weeds, as rats absolutely love these to hide in.

2 Likes

Rats are opportunistic little critters, so they will eat anything they can get their paws onto - including snails! If you’re finding lots of hollow snail shells it might be a sign that the rats are eating those. However, if the greenspace you mention is mostly native plants and trees it is possible that the rodents living there are mostly native and pretty harmless (im guessing you’re in the US so likely squirrels, voles and the like?). Rats and mice may still make use of it, but the thrive the most in garbage filled man-made places like subways and sewers.
You said there’s owls around, so there’s also the chance that they choose to live there because of the abundance of rats. Then again, rats are very smart and skittish, so the owls may just be feeding on the local rodents instead. If you have the chance, why don’t you look around the greenspace for tracks and faeces and upload the pictures? That may help to ID what type of rodents live there and if it turns out it is rats you can discuss with your neighbours in order to address the issue. Best of luck!

2 Likes

I’m not sure if I am saying anything new here, but here goes.

I am sure there are all sorts of icky things living near you (rats and some more icky). There are also living insects in almost any fresh produce you eat, and dead insect, mammal, rodent, and reptile parts in any processed food you buy. If you have a garden, there are undoubtedly insects doing damage to your plants right now. Living with other life forms that don’t have the same interests as us is inevitable. AND anything you do to get rid of something you don’t like will effect things you like or need. For instance, I an not aware of any insecticide that will only kill one bug. They will kill pests, neutral, and beneficial insects equally. Since roughly 98% of all insects are beneficial or neutral, most insect deaths will be bad if you use an insecticide.

So, mainly what we do is find an acceptable level of "bad: lifeforms and only do something if the infestation gets beyond that acceptable level., In my case, I have tons of rodents outside. Occasionally I see one, but my critter cam sees a lot more. I’m fine with them outside. It is beyond my acceptable level when they come inside. At that point, I’ll trap them and try to figure out how they got in. On the other hand, I will not put up with rattlesnakes in my yard. If I see one, I pull out my snake grabbing stick and relocate them to the far other side of the property. Ugh! They just disgust me.

2 Likes

:relaxed: Rattlesnakes don’t disgust me, but I’ve never seen one in a suburban setting. When I do encounter one in open spaces, I’m amazed and not too worried (assuming I did not step on it). I am pretty careful not to be foolish… no stamping at it or poking at it. And, yet, I’ve seen other visitors riling the poor thing, thinking they were “taking care of it”.

Still, I might no be so sanguine if a rattlesnake was living on my property. But, I would not kill it on sight , as I’ve seen people do in the country.

1 Like

Well, we have lots of non-native Eastern gray squirrels around. Native ground squirrels and our dusky-footed wood rats would not be very attracted to the landscaping here. Our common area green space is not native plants, more’s the pity. I think I ~may~ once have had a native wood rat living in my patio (it looked different than Norwegian variety), and I’m not far from a natural creek bed, but I’m a bit lower in the foothills than they normally choose.

So, I think my one big transgression is my leaf mulch pile that’s about roughly 6x7x2 ft. I suppose I should give that up and hardscape the area. :neutral_face:

That said, my patio has a lot of native ground covers and bigger shrubs. But, I imagine a rat doesn’t care if it’s native; it just goes… yippee! shade, cover, and seeds!.

2 Likes

I’m a fairly rural area. Zoned for five acres. Several of the nearby properties are 10-80 acres. Most of my neighbors kill them on sight. Then they get ground squirrel infestations, which lead to all sorts of problems. I’m not really a fan of reptiles in general, but I’ve had too many close calls with rattlesnakes. Putting my hands on them when collecting firewood, stepping on them when tromping around, having then strike at me when I was crawling under a house to fix ducting… Disgust is probably the wrong word. Terrify is probably closer, but it doesn’t sound very manly. :-)

2 Likes

I relocate the tiger snakes around the house so the dogs don’t step on them. The dogs are maremmas, so don’t attack or play with animals, but they are super clumsy.

1 Like

Also, releasing non native reptiles (or other animals for that matter) almost always does more harm than good. A small snake could easily escape from most enclosures. I would not recommend it.

4 Likes

Yes, If I had decided to try such, I would have tried to procure a captive-bred gopher snake or king snake, which are native. I certainly would not condone relocation of a wild a snake in this circumstance. But I fully agree deploying a snake is not a suitable scenario to use for pest control in my patio .

I like snakes, so it was a fun fantasy for a few minutes.

2 Likes

I just read about maremmas. Great looking dogs. I have a lab mix that will bark at or play with anything that moves. He spends a lot of time chasing Fence Lizards. Fortunately he has never caught one.

I also looked up tiger snakes. Nope! Don’t like those either. IMO rattlesnakes are the best of the venomous reptiles, because they do have a rattle and normally use it long before you get near them,

3 Likes

Really? I have never met a rattlesnake, but I have heard lots of bad stories about their aggression. Are they likely to bite if picked up or are they less aggressive than what it seems?

Tiger snakes are one of my favourite snakes. The ones on my property are so accustomed to people I can comfortably step over one or even free handle it if I have to. They are really not that bad.

What about one that is native to the area, but not on the property? I have thought of getting a python from literally 2min down the road and releasing it in the roof. The only problem is that they are very locally common so I don’t know if it would leave to find a mate or not…

1 Like

I’ve been very close to a lot of rattlesnakes (eg https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/77224502), and even nearly stepped on one (by accident). They put on quite a show (the rattle, the threatening posture, etc), and I suspect people are misinterpreting the threat display as “aggression” when in fact the snake is doing everything it can to avoid biting. If they wanted to bite a human, they would do so without the warnings.

Also, I agree that it’s never good to release a captive bred or kept reptiles (or basically any type of animal) into the wild. Here are some good reasons to not do that.

I agree one rat every so often is not a problem, and the best thing you can do is try to make your place not enticing to them.

5 Likes

Okay, thanks for that link.
So if I was to capture an unwanted python that somebody was trying to get rid of, even kill, and took it 2km down the road to my house to release him there, it would not be good?

1 Like

So, I think my one big transgression is my leaf mulch pile that’s about roughly 6x7x2 ft. I suppose I should give that up and hardscape the area.

I think it’d be a real shame destroying that valuable habitat just because you’ve seen a rat once.

2 Likes

Rattlesnakes are fairly chill as far as aggression goes. In my experience, most vipers are actually less likely to bite than some other snakes (I’m looking at you garter and water snakes). I’ve never free handled one (no need), but when capturing for research (which I’ve only done infrequently), I’ve never had one even try to strike at me (different story for copperheads).

Now I have had them spray musk in my mouth and eyes from 4 feet away when tubing them, but that’s a different kind of danger…:)

I’ve also stepped very close to rattlers (within striking distance) and flipped them out of tin and logs. I’ve gotten strike postures and very serious rattling/warning. The only time I’ve ever had rattlers move towards me was when they was obviously headed for a burrow/shelter, and in those cases they did so very slowly and deliberately while buzzing the whole way.

But really, I don’t think whether they bite when getting picked up is a good criterion for judging aggression. I wouldn’t “blame” any wild snake or call it aggressive if it tried to bite anyone picking it up.

5 Likes

Thanks, for news release. The paper was well presented and interesting, expanding on @elsemikkelsen and @abrub comments. I’m saddened to read about the desert turtles’s diseases, such amazing animals.

Also, an amazing photo of the snake! What a face!

In few my encounters with rattlesnakes while hiking, they were not aggressive. They either waited for me to move away or moved off themselves. Although, I found the encounters a little scary, the snakes did not behave aggressively, other than maybe a little warning rattle. It was my own background making me scared.

1 Like

One thats native would probably fine. I dont know much about snakes, so I cant tell for sure.