Coping with Critters

I got some great comments on my post (below) on trapping rats. I just remembered an article I wrote for Mother Earth News a few years ago on how I deal with rats and other homestead invaders:

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

4 Responses to Coping with Critters

  1. Some thoughts:

    The favorite snack food of skunks is live mice, so unless they are presenting themselves as a complete nuisance, it's best to leave them be, they are actually helpful overall.

    The most unique method of dealing with 'possums playing 'possum comes from that old chestnut The Mother Earth News itself, from 40 years ago, and involves emptying one's bladder on the apparently motionless (and afterwards hapless) marsupial. I believe the technique was called "Pissin' Possums".

    Your article on TMEN seems to have generated some spirited discussion regarding humane-vs.-traditional methods of pest control. Inevitable, but hopefully a topic that won't get too deep a toehold here. I don't think (or at least don't hope) that any of us enjoy having to take the life of creatures that are causing us difficulties, but when reasoning and outwitting them doesn't work, the other method is sure-fire. As long as the bears don't take up similar tactics, humans are still the top of the food chain and the most feared predator.

  2. I usually have to contend with Mice, Raccoons and a few Bats during the Summer.

    With Mice, 100% Peppermint Oil seems to work. A few drops of it once a week on a cotton ball once a week. Leave it where you find droppings.

    Raccoons don't like strong smells. I spray a mix of Cayenne Pepper and Water on areas around my home. And it works. They can't stand the spicy, peppery smell. In late Spring if you see them on your lawn, they're after grubs. In late Summer, they'll go after your veggie garden or garbage can.

    Bats are usually harmless so I just leave the windows open if I spot one flying around in a room. Turn on all lights and blast some music. They'll leave.

    Never ever feed feral cats. You'll create an endless headache for yourself.

  3. that peppermint oil idea sounds good..think i will add that to our route.

    re the termites, Lloyd, no idea if this would have any effect, but i know of a couple who had trouble with couple different bugs, and worked well.

    sprinkle baking soda all around/carpet/floor/couch/cracks. take a broom and sweep it in good, till it disapears into cracks.. every time you wash a carpet, redo. seems to work well with any crawling critter, but for sure termites are different.

  4. For twenty years I had problems with mice rats and squirrels trying to set up in rooms off my courtyard in a desert homestead with no domestic pets. What changed was that now I always put out the vegetable fruit and salad scraps in the same spot very day, the critters are now in the loop and they have stopped coming inside the rooms, just like that!

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