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Animal between our main floor and basement..how do we get rid of it??


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We have a one story home with a mostly finished basement. I had been hearing some pattering sounds in the ceiling, while in the basement. DH and DS thought it was probably mice. I thought it sounded bigger than a mouse. They set traps. The peanut butter was gone but nothing was caught. 

I didn't hear anything for a while, then it started again. Today DH noticed something has chewed a HOLE in the side of our house, near the back door, and tonight DH and I were in the basement family room and definitely heard something bigger than a mouse in the ceiling, so between the basement and main floor.  It sounded like whatever it was, was dragging or scraping something, pulling it. 

I'm freaked out. Is it a squirrel? Possum? HOW DO WE GET RID OF IT? DH tried to climb up and look with a flashlight in the unfinished furnace room, but there was too much duct work in the way. Do those ultrasonic pest repellants work on small animals?

Help!

 

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I had some success keeping raccoons from coming through our cat door into our garage by continuously playing a radio and leaving the lights on. It made for an inhospitable environment. 

Best thing would probably be a baited humane live trap, something like this. Check often so your visitor doesn't get stressed, and release him/her several miles from your home in a public area with some cover. 

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Shawn woods has suggestions on youtube for catching rats. (including live traps if that is your preference.)  Rats are very smart - and will often outsmart traps.  But he has some suggestions that work.  Including live trap that they can't escape.

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4 hours ago, Pawz4me said:

I'd call a pest removal company. Many of the same ones who will spray for bugs also do wildlife removal, or will be able to recommend someone who does.

This is what I would do.  A couple years ago we had squirrels in our attic.  Took the pest control guy several visits to get them all out and patch up the hole so no more could get in.  It was more than we could have handled on our own.

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Last night DH put sticky traps outside the hole, on our deck. This morning the sticky traps were halfway across the deck, stuck together. There was hair left on it, a few teeth marks, and we saw a paw print that looks like a possum. The hair was long and gray like a possum, too. We think we're going to try to do a live trap and if that doesn't work, we'll call a pest control company.

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Rats don't need much of a hole.  My mom thought she'd trapped one in a room - the pest guy said the slit under the door (not that big) was plenty big for the rat to get through.  fortunately - at that time it was only the one in her condo.  A service person had left her patio door open, and in it came.

if it's a bigger hole, it may be something else.  as well as getting rid of the animal - you have to block every. single. hole.   no matter how small.  

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1 minute ago, gardenmom5 said:

Rats don't need much of a hole.  My mom thought she'd trapped one in a room - the pest guy said the slit under the door (not that big) was plenty big for the rat to get through.  fortunately - at that time it was only the one in her condo.  A service person had left her patio door open, and in it came.

if it's a bigger hole, it may be something else.  as well as getting rid of the animal - you have to block every. single. hole.   no matter how small.  

We really think, based on the hair left on the sticky trap and the paw print, that it is a possum. I've seen them here before. When we used to have a cat, sometimes I left cat food on the deck. A couple times I heard something out there at night, and opened the back door to see a possum scurrying away. We've just never had one inside our house before!

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9 hours ago, gardenmom5 said:

Shawn woods has suggestions on youtube for catching rats. (including live traps if that is your preference.)  Rats are very smart - and will often outsmart traps.  But he has some suggestions that work.  Including live trap that they can't escape.

Does he have similar info about squirrels? Because that’s the most likely culprit around here. 

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2 hours ago, athena1277 said:

This is what I would do.  A couple years ago we had squirrels in our attic.  Took the pest control guy several visits to get them all out and patch up the hole so no more could get in.  It was more than we could have handled on our own.

And if one had managed to die in a crawl space, the pros have tried and true and safer methods for retrieving remains. Because even though the noise stops, you don’t want that in your house, either. 

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2 hours ago, PrairieSong said:

Last night DH put sticky traps outside the hole, on our deck. This morning the sticky traps were halfway across the deck, stuck together. There was hair left on it, a few teeth marks, and we saw a paw print that looks like a possum. The hair was long and gray like a possum, too. We think we're going to try to do a live trap and if that doesn't work, we'll call a pest control company.

If you know about when it leaves every day, that gives you a chance to batten down the hatches and make sure it can't get back in. That's your easiest, cheapest way to go.

23 minutes ago, gardenmom5 said:

Rats don't need much of a hole.  My mom thought she'd trapped one in a room - the pest guy said the slit under the door (not that big) was plenty big for the rat to get through.  fortunately - at that time it was only the one in her condo.  A service person had left her patio door open, and in it came.

if it's a bigger hole, it may be something else.  as well as getting rid of the animal - you have to block every. single. hole.   no matter how small.  

Exactly. If this one doesn't come back, another one will. If you can block all the holes (sometimes with metal flashing to make chewing harder) while it's out, you've solved both problems with one action.  

We had squirrels in our attic in our old house. We thought we'd lose our minds. They are basically rats with bushy tails and the ability to chew through nearly anything. It took forever to find all the ways to keep them out, but eventually we found them all. I think my DH might have also used some poison (sorry)--it makes them want to drink, so they leave and then die elsewhere. That's pretty much a last resort. We had hoards of squirrels in the neighborhood--they chewed all kinds of phone lines up and down our street too, driving the phone company mad, and they were generally just horribly destructive. After that, we did a better job of keeping branches away from the roof, and DH used a pellet gun to keep the population down a bit. Eventually, a hawk moved in for a while, and I think that helped. 

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1 hour ago, kbutton said:

If you know about when it leaves every day, that gives you a chance to batten down the hatches and make sure it can't get back in. That's your easiest, cheapest way to go.

Exactly. If this one doesn't come back, another one will. If you can block all the holes (sometimes with metal flashing to make chewing harder) while it's out, you've solved both problems with one action.  

We had squirrels in our attic in our old house. We thought we'd lose our minds. They are basically rats with bushy tails and the ability to chew through nearly anything. It took forever to find all the ways to keep them out, but eventually we found them all. I think my DH might have also used some poison (sorry)--it makes them want to drink, so they leave and then die elsewhere. That's pretty much a last resort. We had hoards of squirrels in the neighborhood--they chewed all kinds of phone lines up and down our street too, driving the phone company mad, and they were generally just horribly destructive. After that, we did a better job of keeping branches away from the roof, and DH used a pellet gun to keep the population down a bit. Eventually, a hawk moved in for a while, and I think that helped. 

yep.  we never used to have squirrels on our property - then they cut down trees across the street to build mcmansions - and, we had squirrels.  coincidently, they were up on a balcony a week after I bought my first squirrel buster bird feeder (I was tired of the Stellars Jays making a huge mess.  You can adjust it so if something is too heavy, it will close the ports.)  So they went after my other bird feeder.  They could climb up the side of my house to get to the deck.  I go yell at them and they'd scramble off.  one - took a flying leap off the deck and landed on the driveway on the FAR side of my son's car.  Then it ran off.

BUT - we've also had several issues of squirrels shorting out power transformers and everyone on this side of the transformer would be out of power until it was fixed.

The neighbor had the massive big leaf maple clump cut down prior to selling that house.  It took THREE DAYS with two to three people working to take out the clump. I used to have nightmares of it coming down on my house as the center of the clump was rotting.  (big leaf maples do that.)  the squirrels left after that.  They used to eat the helicopters (fine with me - just don't plant them somewhere.).

We had a hawk last spring - I haven't seen him.  But there seem to be fewer birds period.  I assume it's the smoke.

We've talked about a pellet gun for the rabbits. . . . I've only gotten one with a live trap.  And a few really mad towhees. (who took off like a bat when I opened the cage.)

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1 hour ago, Seasider too said:

Does he have similar info about squirrels? Because that’s the most likely culprit around here. 

I'm sure there's similar.  squirrels are NOT as smart as rats, so in one sense they're easier to catch.  some of the rat traps he does could work for them - just make it big enough they can't get back out.

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1 hour ago, PrairieSong said:

We really think, based on the hair left on the sticky trap and the paw print, that it is a possum. I've seen them here before. When we used to have a cat, sometimes I left cat food on the deck. A couple times I heard something out there at night, and opened the back door to see a possum scurrying away. We've just never had one inside our house before!

If it's in your house - I'd get a pro to trap it. You have to block every single hole - with wire mesh if necessary.  get branches away from your house.  don't leave any food source outside.

One youtube channel I watch is a guy building a log cabin on his grandfather's property.  He had a possum come in and start chewing on things.  (doors haven't been installed yet.) - so they blocked them with metal sheets like a baby gate.  Then it started chewing on the plywood underneath.  Fortunately - it had to climb up on the boulder supports to reach it as it's a minimum of about 2' off the ground - but he had to cover all of those areas with metal mesh to stop the chewing. 

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16 hours ago, PrairieSong said:

 and tonight DH and I were in the basement family room and definitely heard something bigger than a mouse in the ceiling, so between the basement and main floor.  It sounded like whatever it was, was dragging or scraping something, pulling it. 

Um, is moving an option? Sounds like it's taking prisoners now. 

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Guys! I can't believe people are still using sticky traps. You realize the mice and rats are stuck to them, alive, until they either dehydrate to death or until someone (if they're very lucky) comes along and bashes them over the head? They pee and poo all over themselves out of panic and some try chewing off limbs to escape. Not a nice way to treat any living creature.

And, yes, I will keep saying this as long as people keep recommending and using these horrid things. 🙂 

If you find a living creature trapped on ones of these devices of torture, you can slowly release them by pouring cooking oil around the stuck parts and pushing them off with something like a pencil. Just FYI. 

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45 minutes ago, Pen said:

Live trap. Close up the hole thoroughly. Release animal elsewhere. 

DH bought a live trap today. We'll see if we have anything in the morning. We're in a small town so it's an easy drive to release it somewhere in the country.

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Use a small amount of ammonia in a container or 2 in the area, like maybe 1/4 cup in each...(making sure dogs and other pets stay away).

 

Live traps-we've been doing that for chipmunks in our yard lately. We just heard they should be released over 3 miles away to help ensure they don't find their way back...also: 

Try putting about 1/3 cup of ammonia in a container (or 2) in your space if you can get into it.  Apparently, the ammonia bothers their nose... this worked for raccoons we had in our attic one time. They never came back. We were then able to seal up the hole they got in from. 

I would try this again in an instant, for any animal that is a pest...just make sure dogs and other pets won't be near it...

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On 9/17/2020 at 2:29 PM, MercyA said:

Guys! I can't believe people are still using sticky traps. You realize the mice and rats are stuck to them, alive, until they either dehydrate to death or until someone (if they're very lucky) comes along and bashes them over the head? They pee and poo all over themselves out of panic and some try chewing off limbs to escape. Not a nice way to treat any living creature.

And, yes, I will keep saying this as long as people keep recommending and using these horrid things. 🙂 

If you find a living creature trapped on ones of these devices of torture, you can slowly release them by pouring cooking oil around the stuck parts and pushing them off with something like a pencil. Just FYI. 

If I catch a rat or mouse in my actual home, I kill it.  I don't let it suffer but I don't release it either.  They are vermin.  They carry disease.  They steal food.  I don't take a live and let live stance on those.  Or mosquitoes, anywhere.  Or God forbid if there were ever a snake in my house.  I do release spiders outside.  Other than that, enter at your own peril.

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12 hours ago, Carol in Cal. said:

If I catch a rat or mouse in my actual home, I kill it.  I don't let it suffer but I don't release it either.  They are vermin.  They carry disease.  They steal food.  I don't take a live and let live stance on those.  Or mosquitoes, anywhere.  Or God forbid if there were ever a snake in my house.  I do release spiders outside.  Other than that, enter at your own peril.

I know that people will kill mice and rats. My point is that there are relatively humane ways to do it (snap traps, electric traps) and very inhumane ways to do it (glue traps, poison). 

I believe they are beautiful, intelligent creatures who exist for their own reasons, and I like to give them a chance. I recognize not everyone feels this way, but, please, don't let them suffer on a sticky trap--not even for a half hour--or slowly die from internal bleeding caused by poison. (That's why poison makes them thirsty, folks--they are bleeding to death from the inside.)  

Props to you for the spiders, though! Seriously! Lots of people just squash them. 

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YMMV obviously.....but

After having a chipmunk infestation, that turned into a mouse infestation, that turned into 4 or so of them dying in various walls and stinking up my home and coinciding with a power outage,  that finally turned into a fly infestation (Yes, it's like the song about the old lady who swallowed a fly in reverse!) I now couldn't care less if they all starve and bleed to death on sticky tape.

I am being a little tongue in cheek here, but I have been through most of the Biblical plagues this summer, and have lost all patience with critters.   I am doing everything within my power to keep them out of my house now, but they need to die! die! die! if they come in.   We have tried for so long to be humane and I am DONE.   We are using snap traps for now, but I will absolutely resort to glue tapes if need be.   The people in the house need to come first.

As far as advice goes, be careful if you hire someone for pest control.   The pest people didn't do anything differently than I did, and turned it into a fly infestation.  I think I didn't ask enough questions, and trusted them too much.

 

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I didn't completely answer your OP.

Catching chipmunks was easy.   We did get a humane trap for that, and just put a peanut in it and caught 3 of them in 2 days.   We drove them miles away and found the hole the house and plugged it.   If it's a bigger animal it may actually be easier to deal with.     And we have the same situation with the unfinished basement and the main floor as you do.

Mice (and rats) are really destructive jerks and impossible to deal with.   

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Well, we didn't catch anything in the live trap which we left on our deck near the hole. We put some apple in it, which I read they really like. Must have walked around it. DH had to leave town last night and I really didn't want to deal with the possum (pretty sure that's what it is) on my own so tonight we'll fix it again. I'm going to shove the live trap up next to the hole and barricade the sides with bricks or something heavy, making a little hallway where it can't go anywhere but into the live trap.

I'm going to put ammonia in a dish and stick it up there where I can get access. The basement is mostly finished. I can hear him scrabbling around in there!!! Ugh. I just want him gone. I was in the basement family room watching a movie and I could hear him in the ceiling. So freaky. 

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On 9/17/2020 at 2:29 PM, MercyA said:

Guys! I can't believe people are still using sticky traps. You realize the mice and rats are stuck to them, alive, until they either dehydrate to death or until someone (if they're very lucky) comes along and bashes them over the head? They pee and poo all over themselves out of panic and some try chewing off limbs to escape. Not a nice way to treat any living creature.

And, yes, I will keep saying this as long as people keep recommending and using these horrid things. 🙂 

If you find a living creature trapped on ones of these devices of torture, you can slowly release them by pouring cooking oil around the stuck parts and pushing them off with something like a pencil. Just FYI. 

you can also use a shallow angle bowl with some peanut oil in the bottom for mice.  they won't drown - but they're coated in oil and can't get out either.  Then you can choose how you dispose of them.

 

we use a five gallon bucket with a rolling log. (sides must be high enough they can't jump out if you choose to use it as a live trap) Some designs allow you to use a cover to make escape harder.  (covers work better for rats - as they are much smarter.)  we've caught two  mice this year.  Last year we caught 30.  they are put out as offerings to wildlife around here that eat them.  now - if that wildlife would eat the bunnies  . . . . 

eta: -i  agree, these are vermin.  they are destructive, and even mice can do thousands in damage to homes and/or cars.  They don't get moved to some nice place, they are killed and fed to other wildlife.  (we put them far enough away from our house.  once one was still there the next morning, not the 2nd morning.)

I used a habitrail cage once to catch a gerbil that was loose in my basement. . . . It came running for it's food, and I had the only entrance up high so it would drop into the cage.  Then it couldn't get back out.

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17 minutes ago, PrairieSong said:

 

I'm going to put ammonia in a dish and stick it up there where I can get access. The basement is mostly finished. I can hear him scrabbling around in there!!! Ugh. I just want him gone. I was in the basement family room watching a movie and I could hear him in the ceiling. So freaky. 

Be sure to report back how the ammonia works.   I am very intrigued!

When we had chipmunks they sounded very big and seemed to be having fights to the death with the mice in the walls.    It was crazy.

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55 minutes ago, PrairieSong said:

Well, we didn't catch anything in the live trap which we left on our deck near the hole. We put some apple in it, which I read they really like. Must have walked around it. DH had to leave town last night and I really didn't want to deal with the possum (pretty sure that's what it is) on my own so tonight we'll fix it again. I'm going to shove the live trap up next to the hole and barricade the sides with bricks or something heavy, making a little hallway where it can't go anywhere but into the live trap.

I'm going to put ammonia in a dish and stick it up there where I can get access. The basement is mostly finished. I can hear him scrabbling around in there!!! Ugh. I just want him gone. I was in the basement family room watching a movie and I could hear him in the ceiling. So freaky. 

 

You need to find bait that will be very attractive to opossum.    If apple, maybe cut one so it has extra odor coming from it.  We had a packrat interloper at one point who liked fruit but was hard to catch initially.    If you have a corner spot where two sides are blocked by walls it might help.   You might try a piece of apple not in a trap first — to get the animal hooked on and not afraid of human provided Apple , and to verify that it likes Apple.   

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53 minutes ago, gardenmom5 said:

eta: -i  agree, these are vermin.  they are destructive, and even mice can do thousands in damage to homes and/or cars.  They don't get moved to some nice place, they are killed and fed to other wildlife.  (we put them far enough away from our house.  once one was still there the next morning, not the 2nd morning.)

Mice are not intentionally trying to cause trouble for anyone. I personally don't think they should receive a death sentence for inadvertently bothering us. I know others don't agree. All I am saying is that if you feel killing mice is truly necessary, please use a humane method. Glue traps and poison are not that. 

Sure, sometimes released mice get eaten by other animals. But I have never believed in killing any living creature on the off-chance that he or she may suffer later in life. Not feral cats, not unborn babies, not mice. 🙂 

I actually read a blog years ago by a woman who cared for some wild mice in her basement until winter was over, then released them. She kept their cage in the area in which she let them go so they could visit it for food if need be. She also put flour around it to check for their tracks. They came back regularly at first, then less and less over time. Apparently they were doing just fine. 

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My parents had raccoons once in the walls of their home.  They'd leave every day to get food.  Some animal control place easily discovered where they were coming in, and installed a type of screen that opened to the outside but wouldn't allow them back inside.  So once they were out, they couldn't get back in again.  I don't know if something like that would work...  just throwing it out there.

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1 hour ago, MercyA said:

Mice are not intentionally trying to cause trouble for anyone. I personally don't think they should receive a death sentence for inadvertently bothering us. I know others don't agree. All I am saying is that if you feel killing mice is truly necessary, please use a humane method. Glue traps and poison are not that. 

Sure, sometimes released mice get eaten by other animals. But I have never believed in killing any living creature on the off-chance that he or she may suffer later in life. Not feral cats, not unborn babies, not mice. 🙂 

I actually read a blog years ago by a woman who cared for some wild mice in her basement until winter was over, then released them. She kept their cage in the area in which she let them go so they could visit it for food if need be. She also put flour around it to check for their tracks. They came back regularly at first, then less and less over time. Apparently they were doing just fine. 

considering we've had car repair bills in the THOUSANDS of dollars from mice "just looking for somewhere warm to sleep"  - and chewing up things that required taking apart the car to fix - I will kill mice.  Not to mention what they've done to my garage

 

 

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4 hours ago, gardenmom5 said:

considering we've had car repair bills in the THOUSANDS of dollars from mice "just looking for somewhere warm to sleep"  - and chewing up things that required taking apart the car to fix - I will kill mice.  Not to mention what they've done to my garage

And there's nothing I can do to stop you. Just pretty please do it humanely. 

"A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast" (or God's beasts, in the case of wild animals), Proverbs 12:10.

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14 hours ago, J-rap said:

My parents had raccoons once in the walls of their home.  They'd leave every day to get food.  Some animal control place easily discovered where they were coming in, and installed a type of screen that opened to the outside but wouldn't allow them back inside.  So once they were out, they couldn't get back in again.  I don't know if something like that would work...  just throwing it out there.

I like this idea! 

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We baited the trap with some peanut butter but no luck, again. We're still going to try blocking off the way to the trap with boards/bricks, like a hallway where George has only one path, into the live trap. The other thing is, to sit on the deck and watch for him to leave, then block the entry hole he made with something heavy like a cement block.

Oh yes, I got some ammonia, soaked a rag with it, and put it in a bowl up in the ceiling. There's a hole in the closet ceiling of a basement bedroom. I don't think the ammonia was near enough to bother him much.

And yes, my son named him George.

 

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10 hours ago, PrairieSong said:

We baited the trap with some peanut butter but no luck, again. We're still going to try blocking off the way to the trap with boards/bricks, like a hallway where George has only one path, into the live trap. The other thing is, to sit on the deck and watch for him to leave, then block the entry hole he made with something heavy like a cement block.

Oh yes, I got some ammonia, soaked a rag with it, and put it in a bowl up in the ceiling. There's a hole in the closet ceiling of a basement bedroom. I don't think the ammonia was near enough to bother him much.

And yes, my son named him George.

 

Cheap, canned cat food can help entice them into the trap.   
 

Growing up, we ran out raccoons from our attic by using dollar store perfume.  We soaked cotton balls in it and put it in an open container.  They left within hours. 

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The county animal control guy suggested putting dry cat food in the live trap, but...I haven't heard any noises at all from George today! He has been very noisy every afternoon and evening until today. We blocked the entry hole near our back door with a very heavy stone. Hopefully this is the end of it. Maybe he was scared away by the ammonia smell or maybe he just moved on. Hopefully he did NOT die inside our house! Ugh. If we hear him again we will take the stone away and bait the live trap again. 

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