...and that's Rats, as in I have them. DISGUSTING!
A few nights ago I was woken up at 4:30am by Major catching a squeaking creature. I could hear it squeaking and him chasing it, so Anna and I went into the living room to investigate. At the time I'd thought that Major brought the creature in (although now I'm not so sure). At 4:45 I'd finally caught the thing and thrown it out in the front yard, dropped Major in the front yard next to it, and locked the cats out of the house before coming back to bed. When I woke up later in the morning, I'd discovered remains outside the cat door and was glad to see Major had taken care of the issue....or so I thought.
...UNTIL today when I was vacuuming the house and lifted an item in the almost empty TV area only to watch a creature (what I'd been thinking were mice....actually are small-to-mid sized rats) scurry to hide itself in the drapes. Again I went to find Major who eventually caught it but I again scooped it up, bagged it, and uh killed it and disposed of the body. Enter phone call to my father: "uh, Dad, do you think I have a mouse/rat issue?" and of course his response was in the affirmative. Here's where I cursed being newly single and getting to deal with this infestation solo--the joys! :)
Off to Bi Mart I went to purchase D-con and plastic bins to contain the chicken feed, which is likely the attraction for the rats....if I'd only I'd known the chicken feed part SOONER.
The dogs have been running around the shed in the backyard excitedly for about a week and peeking underneath it, so I'm pretty sure that the rodents are burrowing/reproducing/living underneath the shed and are probably happily gorging off chicken feed and the compost bin which is also right next to the shed. At this point, I still can't tell if the rats are also living in the house or if the cats have been bringing them in. Regardless I've placed four D-con baits under the shed and moved the extra chicken feed into plastic bins in the shed, as well as placed two baits in the garage and a total of five in the house. Tomorrow I will also be removing the feeder from the coop and will begin feeding the chickens out of a bowl in the morning and emptying the bowl at night. From my reading online and talking to my chicken friendly relatives, apparently chicken feed is a huge attraction for rats.
And how do I know they're rats and not mice now? Well I'd had a suspicion since their fur was gray and coarse with thicker tails than I'd imagined a mouse to have, and today I snapped a pre-death picture of the one guy that I showed to my aunt and uncle this evening during our viewing of the Duck football game...to which they laughed and assured me that it's a rat problem and not one of mice! Blah! Especially as I'd found a few droppings in the bedroom while vacuuming, so I went on a mad hunt prior to crawling into bed tonight...and I've shut the door going into the room. Here's hoping there aren't any rats in here with us...and that any that are in the rest of the house can be captured by the cats tonight! (Ironically I've been locking the cats out at night after the last incident, but I think I'm re-evaluating that decision now!)
Keep your fingers crossed I can get it under control and that none of the cats get sick in the process! YUCK!
UPDATE: As of this afternoon, FOUR more baits were set under the shed. The large amount of excess food in the coop was removed and a small container of it was placed where I can easily access & stow it in the evenings. Additionally I realized that the coop isn't completely sealed off so rats can easily enter the coop via the doorway and another corner where the chicken wire isn't connected. The random cut wood thrown behind the shed got relocated into the shed for drying, which should also decrease habitat for bugs & other critters. The chicken's boxes also got cleaned out to decrease potential for rats to investigate.