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brief sorta update/ disgusting question


pinkmint
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Question first, explanation following. How dangerous is rat blood?

 

We just got internet. Settling into new house slowly. I love it. 

 

What I don't love is that we apparently have rats. Not mice, RATS. 

 

First spotted 2 nights ago. I was spacing out on the couch as DH was getting kids ready for bed and spotted a thing scurrying along the wall under kitchen cabinet. Freak out, do research, buy traps, locate holes behind oven, buy hole filing supplies etc. 

 

So while we're waiting for an important hole-filling item to ship from Amazon, we're setting the big rat snap-traps at night. Woke up this morning to find one of the traps had been set off and it was upside down with no rat in it. Hmmm. Sleepily but nervously look around. Notice big fat deceased rat on the floor by the couch that 3 year old almost stepped on (DH disposed of it). Then notice trail of blood all over from the kitchen to living room. I used latex gloves and disinfecting wipes to clean blood off the ceramic tile floor, but this guy struggled all over the place. There's blood on some household items and toys. 

 

Should I bother cleaning those things or throw them away? 

 

Reading up on the diseases and behaviors of rats has not been reassuring. Black plague anyone? 

Edited by pinkmint
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That's pretty darn gross. Poor you! To move into a new dream house and have to deal with rats is not pleasant at all! 

 

I'd take a photo and contact your local public health department. They'll be able to give you some advice, I'd bet.

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Rats are very smart.  You are lucky that that one died.  If it had not, it would have remembered what a rat trap looked like for the rest of time, and would never have been caught in one.  I hate to admit it, but when we had a rat that sprung our traps and was not caught by a sticky trap, we resorted to poison in the end.  This was after trying to catch it for about 3 months.

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Rats aren't that uncommon, so don't despair on that account.

 

I think if you can disinfect items, it's fine.  You are probably in more danger from the outside of the rat.

 

But, if it grosses you out, get rid of things.

 

In general terms, rats require vigilance to get rid of, and if you are in an area where they live it will probably be ongoing.  You can use poison, but personally I wouldn't as I've seen bad results to animals as a result.

 

The first thing you really need to do is find openings in your house and close them.  Also take away food, and cover around the outside. 

 

Traps are ok, and if you are rural you can use a small gun to hunt them, but the #1 thing I've found works is a rat-hunting cat or small terrier.  Rats are smart and will stay away.

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Don't mean to alarm you, but we once had rats appear from time to time in the basement of a duplex we were renting.  The landlord got ahold of a rat exterminator, who told us that often a few rats in a home is a sign of lots and lots of rats living in the ground right near the home.  They ended up digging up the entire yard and apparently found hundreds of rats living down there.  They said they we would have had continued (and probably worsening) problems with them coming into our home if they hadn't gotten rid of the main source.

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I've definitely thought of calling a professional. I think that's a cost-prohibative option though from what I've heard about what they charge. A cat seems like a natural solution, and my kids beg us almost daily for a cat. They've got allergy issues though and I don't know how my kids would react. Maybe we will take them to a shelter and pet store to spend time with cats and see how they do. 

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If the cat remains outside (and you might consider getting two kittens to keep each other company and be more effective at keeping rats away) then a mild allergy to cats might not be an issue.  If your kids have severe allergies it will.  The problem is usually the cat dander, which is sticky and pretty invisible.  Once cat dander is in a house it is hard to get out.  Not an issue if you aren't allergic to cat dander.  Most people can't smell or see it.   

 

For cats to want to remain in the area and to be a pet they will need socializing.  People would need to be holding and petting them and interacting with them on a regular basis as kittens.  Otherwise they might become feral.  

 

 

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Good to see you back, pinkmint! I'm glad you're enjoying your new house.

 

If you're using snap traps, be sure you place them so that the baited end is perpendicular to the wall, not parallel to it. This will make it more likely that the rat's neck will be snapped and he will be killed quickly. Usually snap traps are much more humane than sticky traps or poison. You could also try an electric trap.

 

Rodent droppings can spread disease and areas in which they are found should be disinfected, but I don't think I'd be especially worried about blood. I probably wouldn't toss anything unless I couldn't thoroughly wash it.

 

If you find that your kids do okay with cats, bringing one into your family would likely help tremendously!

 

Good luck!

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RE: the cost of getting a professional to take care of the problem

 

You just bought the house, right? Were there any inspections done prior to settlement that should have uncovered the problem and might give you some recourse financially in terms of getting an exterminator to deal with the problem? Just throwing that out there as I don't know the answer.

 

ETA: I'm not saying pursue it if there's just one. But if you're dealing with a significant infestation, it might be worth asking the question even if the answer is "no."

Edited by Reluctant Homeschooler
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Good to see you back and no first hand experience, but I do enjoy reading older books and am under the impression that rats used to be a HUGE issue before antibiotics and indoor plumbing became as ubiquitous as they are today.

 

I'm not saying rat blood is 100% benign today, just that our emotions (and maybe even the hard wiring in our brains) might make all of us overreact to the actual risk of catching a serious disease.

 

Happy new house and I'll let the experienced homeowners talk now.

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I've definitely thought of calling a professional. I think that's a cost-prohibative option though from what I've heard about what they charge. A cat seems like a natural solution, and my kids beg us almost daily for a cat. They've got allergy issues though and I don't know how my kids would react. Maybe we will take them to a shelter and pet store to spend time with cats and see how they do. 

 

That sounds like a good plan.

 

Not all cats will hunt rats, so a pair might be a good idea if you go that way.  Make sure any males are fixed early so you avoid spraying!

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I've definitely thought of calling a professional. I think that's a cost-prohibative option though from what I've heard about what they charge. A cat seems like a natural solution, and my kids beg us almost daily for a cat. They've got allergy issues though and I don't know how my kids would react. Maybe we will take them to a shelter and pet store to spend time with cats and see how they do. 

 

I would start with a kitty as well. We have an outdoor only kitty - okay dh built him an outdoor wooden house because we had heavy rain storms this winter and I am a sucker - but Ollie lives outside and most cats do their job. Our cat showed up here and adopted us. If one of your kids is mildly allergic, an outdoor kitty may not cause many issues unless he cuddles the cat a lot.

Edited by Liz CA
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In our area the Board of Health will do free home visits to assess for rat habitats. We saw rats in our backyard when dd was a toddler and the BoH guy was super helpful--found their den in our neighbor's wood pile and set up free traps that he returned to take care of. I'm sure not every municipality offers this but worth a few phone calls.

 

Our neighbor also has an apple tree that was a great food source for the rats. So helpful to have an expert assess both food sources and habitats so you can make your home and yard less hospitable to the critters.

 

Amy

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If you're not in a dry area of the country the diseases rats carry aren't nearly as bad.  The scary ones (hanta virus, plague) are all in the Southwest.  When we lived in Colorado we got instructions to clean mouse poop with a wet bleach solution, and to use rubber gloves.  And not to use a vaccuum, because that could help get the virus airborne.  I guess most of the country it is harder to get hanta virus, the humidity keeps it from being transmitted.

 

If you decide to get a cat, I'd look at farms in the area - killing mice and rats is a skill taught by mama cats.  We once had a purebread cat come nose-to-nose with a mouse in our house and turn and run away scared. DH, who grew up in the country and not with purebred cats, was scandalized. It was a breed he wasn't allergic to though, so we weren't going to get rid of it.

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Plague exists in a small region. Look up a map. I live in the center of that region. My baby ate a dead mouse out of a trap a year ago. I freaked beyond freaking out, obviously. The pediatrician called the state office that deals with disease and they said that if he ran a fever in six weeks, bring him to the ER to rest for plague. He was fine. That said, I would throw away anything easy to replace.

 

 

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Plague exists in a small region. Look up a map. I live in the center of that region. My baby ate a dead mouse out of a trap a year ago. I freaked beyond freaking out, obviously. The pediatrician called the state office that deals with disease and they said that if he ran a fever in six weeks, bring him to the ER to rest for plague. He was fine. That said, I would throw away anything easy to replace.

 

 

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😨😵😷

 

oh my goodness, I can't even imagine!

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Plague exists in a small region. Look up a map. I live in the center of that region. My baby ate a dead mouse out of a trap a year ago. I freaked beyond freaking out, obviously. The pediatrician called the state office that deals with disease and they said that if he ran a fever in six weeks, bring him to the ER to rest for plague. He was fine. That said, I would throw away anything easy to replace.

 

 

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I'm freaking out over this. So many layers of horrible here.

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Plague exists in a small region. Look up a map. I live in the center of that region. My baby ate a dead mouse out of a trap a year ago. I freaked beyond freaking out, obviously. The pediatrician called the state office that deals with disease and they said that if he ran a fever in six weeks, bring him to the ER to rest for plague. He was fine. That said, I would throw away anything easy to replace.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

Oh wow, what a nightmare. I am so glad he is okay!

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RE: the cost of getting a professional to take care of the problem

 

You just bought the house, right? Were there any inspections done prior to settlement that should have uncovered the problem and might give you some recourse financially in terms of getting an exterminator to deal with the problem? Just throwing that out there as I don't know the answer.

 

ETA: I'm not saying pursue it if there's just one. But if you're dealing with a significant infestation, it might be worth asking the question even if the answer is "no."

In Texas, unless something has changed quite recently, pest inspections usually only get you a 30 day recourse against the inspector, if anything. And even at that, good luck.

 

We had a bad rat problem in our barn when we moved into current house. They were everywhere and were pretty brazen. We couldn't catch anything in the traps. They were too smart and I refuse to use poison with all of our kids and animals around. We got a barn cat and she cleaned them out in no time flat. Haven't seen one out there since. (And she's now a house cat.) :)

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Rats are very smart.  You are lucky that that one died.  If it had not, it would have remembered what a rat trap looked like for the rest of time, and would never have been caught in one.  I hate to admit it, but when we had a rat that sprung our traps and was not caught by a sticky trap, we resorted to poison in the end.  This was after trying to catch it for about 3 months.

 

We once had a rat (in a previous house) that could not be trapped.  In fact, the snap traps would just... disappear, never to be seen again.  Those things are impressive and such a PIA to set without breaking a finger, and how that rat would foil them is still a mystery.  After weeks of trying, Dh was finally fed up.  The next time he heard it rustling around, he ran after it with a broom and swept it into the new snap trap we'd set that day!  He is a brave, brave man.

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We got two kitties from the neighbor.  They are outdoor only as we are allergic and they have been with us 6 years now.  We live in a very old house with lots of greenspace around so critters showed up.  The old neighbor said we needed cats.  They were right!  The cats fixed our problem in no time!  I do keep poison traps behind the washing machine and the fridge as back up. 

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We live in a neighborhood that is very shady, lots of old trees, with a creek running through the middle of it  (that creates a flood plain).  While that sounds idyllic and rural, it's really quite urban, and we are close to the city center, with old, 1950s houses that were built with a gap between the roofline and fascia that rats can get into.  

 

Rats are a huge problem in our neighborhood.  They call them "roof rats."  They seem to jump from trees onto the roof, then into the attic and into the walls of houses.  

 

We rent our house, and our landlord is not the type to pay for professional exclusion, though that is very popular in our neighborhood.  We didn't want the whole $2000 exclusion deal on our dime, either, so we DIYed it.  All of this hasn't been at one time....we've lived here 7 years.  We found every hole in the crawl space/exterior perimeter, stuffed with steel wool, and filled it with spray foam insulation (that has to be redone from time to time).  The house had already had the attic gap closed (when we had raccoons in the attic!  smh).  We mostly have used snap traps with peanut butter, and that seems to work well.  However, when we had a house demolished next door, we used poison outside.  I know it's not good for the animals and food chain, but it did work, and it was our best option.   We keep traps behind the washer, the stove, and in the attic as prevention, but we usually only have an issue at change of seasons or something weird (for us, that's a flood that floods our crawl space or the neighbor house being demolished).

 

You can do this!  It's such a pain, and it's so gross, but it's super common, and you can win against the rats.   :)

Edited by Zinnia
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I've definitely thought of calling a professional. I think that's a cost-prohibative option though from what I've heard about what they charge. A cat seems like a natural solution, and my kids beg us almost daily for a cat. They've got allergy issues though and I don't know how my kids would react. Maybe we will take them to a shelter and pet store to spend time with cats and see how they do. 

 

The only value I got from the professional when we had mice was that he knew how to look for holes that I couldn't see with my untrained eyes and he knew what places to look for signs of (in our case) mice that I didn't know to look for. This is a big value, though, because no amount of killing rats will get rid of new ones coming in and if you're only treating them in one part of the house but they have spread you'll not do much good, either. But I'd do this as a last resort; and I would include poison carefully placed before I did that.

 

Emily

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Thank you, all.

 

I found a small local place that will come and scope out the problem for a low fee. I want to know what we're dealing with. They're coming Wednesday.

 

I'm glad we're not the only ones who've dealt with rats. It's one thing when you have ants or even mice but full-on rats... They're known for spreading deadly disease and biting too. Sure, we live in modern times with sanitation and medical advances, and we're a relatively clean and tidy family but I've seen Lady and the Tramp (the rat scene) and the episode of Little House on the Prairie where rats get into the local flour supply and the town people get deathly ill.

 

Anyway, any other tips on finding a good "ratter" cat appreciated. That's one thing we're seriously considering now. I'm impressed with what I've read about how effective cats can be on rodent control.

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I agree with pp to look for a farm cat that has been raised by a rodent-hunting mother.

 

We have three cats--two of them never go after rodents. Birds, bats, snakes--but not rodents. The third was the kitten of a pregnant stray who showed up at our property last spring. Mother cat turned out to be a rodent hunter and so is her offspring.

Edited by maize
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Thank you, all.

 

I found a small local place that will come and scope out the problem for a low fee. I want to know what we're dealing with. They're coming Wednesday.

 

I'm glad we're not the only ones who've dealt with rats. It's one thing when you have ants or even mice but full-on rats... They're known for spreading deadly disease and biting too. Sure, we live in modern times with sanitation and medical advances, and we're a relatively clean and tidy family but I've seen Lady and the Tramp (the rat scene) and the episode of Little House on the Prairie where rats get into the local flour supply and the town people get deathly ill.

 

Anyway, any other tips on finding a good "ratter" cat appreciated. That's one thing we're seriously considering now. I'm impressed with what I've read about how effective cats can be on rodent control.

 

You want to find one with a high prey/play drive. Lazy cats aren't much good as mousers. We went through a rescue for our barn cat as the local animal shelters will not adopt out animals that aren't to be kept indoors, and I wasn't going to be dishonest.

 

I told the rescue what her purpose would be and that I needed something to kill rats- I didn't care about color or sex- just get me a hunter!! And they did!  She's actually a small cat, so I was skeptical, but I ended up with enough dead rats brought to my doormat she was obviously the real deal. We did have to keep her locked in the barn for a full month, or else she might have run away- so if you're looking to get an outdoor cat, you might still consider you need to keep them in a garage or something until they get to know their new home. She eliminated the rats, and after coyotes showed up we moved her indoors with us and she's adapted quite nicely. She rules the roost over all three dogs and our other cat. :) 

 

If you do get a cat for this though, please make sure you feed it well. Some people advise that by restricting the cat's food it will be a better mouser. That's not true. It just makes for a sickly cat. 

 

One other thing- you might make sure you have all of the branches trimmed around your roof. It makes it harder for the rats to get in from the roofline as someone mentioned in a pp. In this part of Texas, that's one of the easiest ways they get in- trees or fences to top of the house and then find (or chew) a hole in the soffit or around a vent pipe etc. 

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My cat that was a great ratter had been abandoned and had to fend for himself. The downside of that was that he would pee in the house.  But he was pretty effective - he would sometimes kill the adults but mostly the younger rats.  And crunc them down in less than 5 seconds, leaving only the tail!  But it kept the population under control and kept them from coming in the house.

 

Make sure you worm any cats regularly, as they will get them from the rats.

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Agree with others that if it doesn't cause allergy issues, a cat or two will likely get rid of any rodent problem. I've owned cats my entire life, and have never seen a live rodent anywhere in or around my house. Our best hunting cats were adopted from the animal shelter and had previously been strays. They've all been friendly and indoor/outdoor cats. We tried to keep our current cat as indoor only. He was absolutely miserable only being in the house. He had been a stray, and we adopted him at a year old. He's in/out now, very social and friendly, and the best hunter we've owned.

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Rats are quite big and usually it is dogs that battle rats.  Dogs like small terriers (Jack Russel comes to mind) and rat terriers.  The rats I have seen are bigger than most cats.

 

Rats bigger than cats??? :ohmy:

 

The Jack Russell we inherited from MIL chased rats in the barn all day long. She was relentless.

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We checked out the local shelter yesterday. We may have lost our minds but we're seriously considering adopting a pregnant stray that came to the shelter. She is a beauty for one thing, a stray, which is a plus for potential rat-hunting disposition, very sweet and friendly and the kids like her. We're thinking of letting her have the kittens at our house, let the kids pick their favorite so she can have a friend to live with, and then finding homes for the others when they're weaned. 

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We checked out the local shelter yesterday. We may have lost our minds but we're seriously considering adopting a pregnant stray that came to the shelter. She is a beauty for one thing, a stray, which is a plus for potential rat-hunting disposition, very sweet and friendly and the kids like her. We're thinking of letting her have the kittens at our house, let the kids pick their favorite so she can have a friend to live with, and then finding homes for the others when they're weaned. 

 

 

A mama cat might be a great choice if you are worried about allergies; My cat allergy is not a problem around female cats.

But male cats (especially non-neutered male cats) cause non-stop sneezing, wheezing, and itching.

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A mama cat might be a great choice if you are worried about allergies; My cat allergy is not a problem around female cats.

But male cats (especially non-neutered male cats) cause non-stop sneezing, wheezing, and itching.

 

Do you have some sort of link to support this?  IME it is breed and not gender specific.

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Do you have some sort of link to support this? IME it is breed and not gender specific.

Female cats do typically produce less of the protein that most people are allergic to.

 

From one link:

 

"Most people who are allergic to cats are allergic mostly to one protein that is made in the cat's saliva, sebaceous glands (tiny glands in the skin), and urinary/reproductive tract. This protein is called "Fel d 1." Individual cats produce Fel d 1 in different amounts, but there are a few generalizations that can be made:

 

Female cats generally make less Fel d 1 than male cats.

Light-colored cats generally make less than dark-colored cats.

Long-haired cats may give off less allergen into their environment than short-haired cats, because their long fur holds the protein against the skin better.

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So, in theory, a female, light-colored, long-haired cat might be less allergenic. However, all these generalizations may be overridden by a specific cat that just makes a lot of the protein, so they are not actually that helpful."

 

http://www.everydayhealth.com/allergy-specialist/truth-about-cat-allergies.aspx

 

Anecdotally our long haired female does not trigger my MIL's allergies as most cats do.

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We checked out the local shelter yesterday. We may have lost our minds but we're seriously considering adopting a pregnant stray that came to the shelter. She is a beauty for one thing, a stray, which is a plus for potential rat-hunting disposition, very sweet and friendly and the kids like her. We're thinking of letting her have the kittens at our house, let the kids pick their favorite so she can have a friend to live with, and then finding homes for the others when they're weaned.

My kids loved loved loved having kittens around when a pregnant stray showed up at our house last year. We couldn't adopt the mama because she didn't get along with our other adult cats but we kept one kitten :) I say go for it!

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