ALTERNATIVES TO POISON
Raptors are the solution but… they can’t be the entire solution. We recommend taking an “integrated pest management” approach to rodents.
Start by finding their source of food, shelter, and water and exclude them from it, or hire a company to help you. Remove invasive ivy (it’s a luxury hotel for rats). If those actions do not work, consider some of the alternatives below. And read Marin County’s very informative poison-free rat management plan.
A few warnings:
Any time you see a “bait box” with an exit hole—beware.
Rats and mice can “check in,” eat poison, and then check out, easily becoming food for a hawk, an owl, other wildlife, or your pet cat or dog. Bait boxes are NOT safe for wildlife unless you get them from a company that uses snap traps inside them—most do not. Glue traps are inhumane and have also been known to kill or seriously injure birds, including small owls, and other animals.
Most large pest control companies still use poison in their bait boxes. The EPA has not been able to take those products off the market because the manufacturers have sued them.
Alternatives to poison include hiring companies that, instead of poison, use snap traps (sometimes enclosed in boxes) and regularly check and empty the traps.
Pest control companies that claim they do not use poison include:
The Hit Men (SF Bay Area)
Pestec (SF Bay Area)
Biopest (SF Bay Area)
Outside the Bay Area, try googling “integrated pest management.” Other non-toxic products successfully used to deter rodents include:
Fresh Cab – a botanical repellent
RatX – a promising new product on the market as of January 2015
Raticator – an electronic trap
If you are using a traditional pest control company, tell them you do not want any poison used. If there is a big enough market for exclusion and humane solutions, the poison will eventually stop. Currently, the poison cycle equals profits for pest control.
As a last resort, try using a snap trap INSIDE a bait box. (Otherwise, songbirds and other small animals can also be caught in them.) There are many brands of inexpensive snap traps (most of which can be re-used). Here is just one example: http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3132844
Other tips on discouraging rats:
- Pick up bird seed waste in your yard—feed birds with seed blocks or cakes instead of bulk seed—those products leave less seed on the ground.
- Backyard chicken coops also attract rats. Consider putting rat-proof flooring in your coop.
- Remove ivy—rats thrive in it—and replace it with native plants that offer wildlife habitat. Do not leave pet foot out and make sure garbage bags are tied tightly and secured. If you live in or manage an apartment building, make sure dumpsters are kept closed at all times and preferably locked.
- Consider installing a barn owl box—but ONLY if everyone in your neighborhood commits to not using poison. See also the Hungry Owl Project for more information and tips.
And last but not least, check out this excellent new web site about safer rodent control.