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What Kind of Varmint Do I Have?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Haston, Apr 24, 2008.

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  1. Haston

    Haston Member

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    Feb 21, 2006
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    Bethesda, Maryland. I have a kind of outdoor "closet" that houses our electric meter. The largest gap into this closet is at the bottom of the door, a space measuring roughly 2" x4" at best. At the top of the closet there is access to the master bedroom floor, which the previous owner sealed off with very stiff chicken wire nailed in place. In the past, we have had mice get into this space and a year ago I added a heavy duty noise machine that is supposed to keep the mice and larger animals away. The other night around midnight something peeled back this chicken wire and gained access to the insulation and the floor above. It pulled the chicken wire back about six inches and pulled it off the nails. So it was big enough to pull off this feat of strength, yet was small enough to fit through the 2" x 4" gap at the bottom of the closet door. What am I dealing with here? Roof rat, possum? I set up a Have-a-Heart racoon trap outside the closet door but have not enticed anything to the bait (ham and sliced apples). H.

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  2. ansehnlich1

    ansehnlich1 Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Adams County, PA
    I live in Gettysburg, Pa., not all that far from you actually.

    I say you have a gray squirrel. That would be my guess, as I've seen them peel back flashing, cut through 3/4 inch board, rip up mesh wire, and such to gain access to a structure. You'll have to nail some 1/16 inch or better plate over that opening if you want to keep 'em out.

    there's my $.02 worth.
  3. Haston

    Haston Member

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    Grey squirrel. That's what I was thinking at first, but the fact that it peeled the wire back at midnight (my wife and I heard it happening) got me thinking in another direction. Are squirrels nocturnal? Thanks for the input and advice on making future entry more difficult. Now I face the dilemma of when to effect repairs, i.e, when do I know that thing is out of the inside of my house. Ideally, when I capture the little bastard, I suppose. Thanks again. H.
  4. termv

    termv Member

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    I'd have to agree on the squirrel. I've trapped them before in my younger years for fun using a similar but smaller trap and some have chewed through the wire it was built out of. The best approach is sealing it off with some heavy guage metal as suggested. I've even had starlings move big pieces of wood covering access to the eave. Oh, make sure they don't have any young ones in their nest, it makes the squirrels that much more determined to get back in and it will start to stink once they starve.
  5. Soopah 27

    Soopah 27 New Member

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    Loc:
    Southwestern Ontario
    On the squirrel- use peanut butter as bait.

    I lost count at 8 squirrels trapped, this spring. They do love the peanut butter....

    I usually dip a walnut in peanut butter, & place the sticky mess on the trigger - so the little bugger has something to munch on while he waits to be released... far, far, away.

    Good luck
  6. N/A N/A

    N/A N/A New Member

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    The thing about varmints is that most of them can and will go anyplace they can fit there head. If they can get there head through your 2x4 crack they are in...
  7. TruePatriot

    TruePatriot New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
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    I agree--grey squirrel.

    I live in NYS. I can personally attest to the fact that squirrels will conduct nocturnal Olympic contests. It took me a really long time to evict the squirrels living in the roof of a brick house I lived in for a while. And they would start up at all hours of the night, running/jumping/scrabbling around--inside the roof, above the plaster ceilings. So I assume that, if they'll do that once they're inside, they'll do it trying to get in, regardless of the fact that, generally, they may not be considered nocturnal.

    I trapped them, one at a time, with peanut butter in a Have-a-Hart trap, off the front porch, directly in front of, and below the holes they were using over the front porch. First, I sealed off the two holes they were using, over the eaves troughs, with sheet-steel, riveted in place.

    They had one remaining hole, directly over the porch. So...I made a one-way "squirrel vavle," by covering the hole with 1/4" screen, then cutting a squirrel-sized hole in the screen (use a "cross" pattern and leave the four "leaves" of the cut attached--don't cut a circle.) Then, I bent the four "leaves" of the screen outward, around I a small hole they could crawl out of, on the theory of a minnow trap, i.e., allowing one-way passage only. I don't know if this ever worked but finally, out of desparation, I took the screen off and, one afternoon, I went out for coffee. Unbelievably, on my way out, I saw (what turned out to be) the last last squirrel, just inside the hole, looking out at me, through the (now unscreened hole). He looked me right in the eye, through the hole over the porch, after I had removed my "squirrel valve," which he may have been afraid to pass, for a couple days.

    Perhaps he was thirsty, or felt confined, by my "squirrel vavle"--I dunno. But when I came back, I had the feeling he was gone, and closed up the hole with 3/4" plywood, then stapled 1/4" screen all over the wood sealing the hole up, and that was that. He really was gone, and I suspect that it was because he hadn't felt like going through my squirrel valve, so that he felt confined in the roof for a few days.

    So...you might consider blocking them in for a day or two, so you can control a "pulsed egress" and let them out. Apparently the trick is to go out for coffee, come right back, and seal off their access, after they've gone out for the afternoon.

    On the other hand, they can get mega destructive if they feel trapped, so don't go far from home, if you try this method. My buddy had one shred the woodwork in his basement, near the windows, trying to get out--I don't think anybody ever figured out how he got in.

    And they can make a lot of noise in a quiet house--I was convinced I had "roof rats" until I saw them hanging around the eaves too consistently, and finally figured it out. You can hear them scratching, even, (and I mean, scratching their own fleas, or whatever--when they start in on the wood, that's even louder) in the middle of the night, and thumping and bouncing around.

    But they do have a weakness for peanut butter, as has been noted. Peanut butter is perhaps your greatest weapon...I used Peter Pan "Chunky"--YMMV. :)

    Good luck.
  8. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I have had flying squirrels in our house, and they ARE nocturnal... The have-a-hart that I tried didn't even phase them, but I found the big size Victor rat traps can be a definite "terminal solution" - for bait I used peanut butter, but if you just smear the stuff on the trap they can sometimes get it without tripping the arm. Instead work it into a chunk of cotton ball and fasten that to the trip lever. If you do this they will really tug and pull on it, and that both trips the lever, and keeps their head where the trap will do the best job...

    Gooserider
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