SNAKES & RATS REMOVAL FROM ATTICS
Guest Post: Linda Woodward
My first scary clue was the long snakeskin I found near my attic suitcases. Next, rat droppings and strange noises in the walls. I suspected I would have a frightful, early Halloween but could not have predicted a 4-foot live rat snake coiling around the leg of a trapper in my attic, constricting him. I could not have predicted over $4,000 in damages to correct the problem either.
An expert with an M.A. in Wildlife Management from Texas A&M advised the correct way to manage my critter problem was:
- Seal entrances
I interviewed 5 wildlife/exterminating companies on pricing & techniques after doing extensive on-line research. Four failed as they trap first, not seal. Only one survived the standard: Forsyth Wildlife, a division of Forsyth Exterminating.
Forsyth Wildlife’s Raymond Vassak’s inspection lasted nearly 2 hours. He had not factored in encountering a 4-foot rat snake actively hunting prey in my attic. He checked every gable, nook, cranny, beam, gutter, window, and wiring entrance to my home & garage. He killed the snake & removed it for me. All this was at no charge to me.
Key Inspection Points:
Ivey Manor Subdivision is a wildlife haven; our homes back up to pastures & woods & we also have a nature sanctuary—natural habitats for snakes, rats, and other critters. Many older subdivisions in our area were built to GA law of no more than a 3-inch construction gap. Most homes here have these gaps all around—or damaged chimney caps, no screens on gables, around outside gutters, cable, phone, hot water heater, electric and a.c. outlets.
A rat or snake only need only a hole the size of a quarter to enter. We thus are vulnerable especially in the spring and fall nesting seasons to becoming victims of unwanted house guests. The cold drives them to seek shelter in our homes. One trick is to leave flour somewhere & check for rat tracks.
Snakes follow rats by scent trails. Wherever a rat can go, a snake can go.
It is illegal to use moth balls in attics for wildlife control in 50 states; in 4 states, it’s a felony to recommend their use to a neighbor. It is banned by the EPA as naphthalene is a carcinogen & moth balls reside in crevices in the attic & vapors emit into air ducts. Sonar devices do not work. Snake Away does not work. Snap traps are superior as they are instant, vs. the baited traps which cause a slow, painful death. Only sealing, trapping, and cleaning works.
He found 3 snakeskins total in my attic. Whatever rat feces one sees in the attic, there’s 3Xs more one can’t see embedded in the insulation. The rat snake is beneficial in that it kills rats. They are mini-boa constrictors and can grow to 8 feet; they live and nest in trees as well as piles of brush.
My rats are the large, gray Norway Rats—weighing over 1 pound and growing to 18 inches long, including the tail. We found one in my BBQ pit munching on a green tomato from my garden. Roof rats are black, but I have not seen them at my house. Or, one can have both.
Key Solution Steps:
- ROOF STEEL–Insert a metal galvanized steel edge between shingle & plywood and screw it in to the fascia board; overlap joins; seal ends—this protects the entire gutter line.
- GUTTERS–Clean all gutters.
- STEEL MESH/FOAM: Seal all entrances around electric/a.c. etc. with steel hardware mesh and spray foam
- SCREEN GABLE: Add outside screen over front gable to protect house from bats; they are numerous in our area
- PRUNE: Trim vegetation too close to the house—I ended up having 32 cu yds removed with 3 chain saws
- TRAP: Set 9 spring traps in attic & check every 3 days
- REMOVE INSULATION/CLEAN: When no animals caught for 2 weeks, proceed to having all insulation removed by vacuum truck; then deodorizing, viriciding, and disinfecting entire attic
- NEW INSULATION: Rat urine will destroy a home’s R-values by beating the insulation down; blow in new R45 insulation (~$2200 for 2200 sq ft home)
- DUCTS: Replace ducts rats have chewed through; I have 4 they chewed through & soiled @ ~$125/duct.
The first round of trapping netted only 1 rat but we are still setting traps as of 10-26-10. They sealed the house during the day when rats were out foraging, so they couldn’t return at night. A rat will eat any cache it has in 2-3 days & will start starving and go for the bait snap traps. The rat snake likely killed most of the rats residing there. The next steps will be #s7—9 in the next few months.
- FORSYTH EXTERMINATING 770-889-0954—only co. that gave me business card & folder w/info. (Forsyth Wildlife is a division) –extensive info on their site re techniques/material. Very prompt, professional.
- http://www.forsythwildlife.com/ The division page w/much tech info; BBB & other affiliation
- http://www.kudzu.com/m/Forsyth-Exterminating-663559 Kudzu shows 52 5-star reviews; much higher than the other cos.
- http://snohomish.wsu.edu/garden/vertchap.htm — Principles of Vertebrae Pest Management
National Pesticides Control Council on toxicity to humans & cases re using it for rats:
This article was written and published by Linda Woodward. Thanks for your input.