Sage rats or woodrats are medium sized rodents. These dad-gum pests were a serious problem for us. We own a vacation rental on 20 acres surrounded on three sides by government land and overlooking the Prineville Reservoir in Central Oregon. Renters were having issues from instances like rats getting into the house when they would leave doors open to rats eating the wiring under their parked cars leaving them stranded and having to pay expensive repair and tow bills.
I searched for pictures of the type of rats in our area. Nothing close on google images. We had mainly two types. One a pack rat and the other some type of sage rat. One was rather large with a bushy tail and the other slightly smaller with a smooth tail that would easily fall off. I know that because picking up the dead rats by the tail was futile.
I had one renter chasing a rat around the house, said they were sort of having fun? The rat made a b-line for an open window and punched right through the screen. Another time I went into the house and found an overturned vase with the contents strewn all over leaving a path to under the range. When I pulled out the range I found the dirty rat had started a nest behind the kitchen counter. Really tough to get at! So I set another trap. The next day when I returned, I had him.
Let me set the record straight. I don’t like killing animals but we as a business cannot tolerate an unhealthy situation for our tenants. It has to be cleaned up and done quickly.
So, to continue, that was not the end of the problem.
I tried everything. Peanut butter on traps seemed to work for a while. But, it wasn’t long before they figured out how to eat the peanut butter off the trap without even tripping the trap. I even attached four traps to a board, thinking ther would at least slip up and get caught accidentally. Not a chance. I mixed rat traps with mouse traps and all I ended up doing was feeding and fattening the stinking rats.
Next I tried poison. It seemed to work the best so far. Still, we had those few rat turds on the patio. I always thought they must love the view, because their turds were always on the seats of the patio furniture. Not too inviting, huh.
So let me tell you what really worked.
I read that rats don’t like to travel far on a regular basis. Kind of home bodies. So, I started scouting trips, uncovering hiding places and nests in old hollowed out juniper trees or whatever hiding places they could make. I distroyed and burned every likely spot within about 500 feet of the cabin.
We had some pallets that formed sort of a patio in front of the pump pump house, a very comfortable hiding place. And a wood pile that I actually came face to face with a now deceased rat. He was no match for my Marlin semi auto 22.
So now we enjoy a rat free society at the cabin. No more rat turds whatsoever. But I did learn something more about peanut butter in rat traps.
You need to feed them before you try to trap them. Build their trust and after they are comfortable eating the peanut butter in safety, then set the traps. But all of the trapping and poison you try, nothing works better than removing their nests.