Today I had to deal with Animal Control. See, last summer our house had a rat problem. Yuck. But if you live in Houston, you have rats. Even in the city proper. They come in from out of the heat. Last summer was pretty bad because of the drought. They even chewed our A/C line which shorted out something and took out the A/C to upstairs where my scrappin' magic happens.
It was so bad that our next door neighbors were also having a problem. Ah! such as life living on the Golf Course; yeah, we look out into the backyard and there's the Golf Course. You see every type of rodent trying to get into the yard. Skunks and possums dig under the fence; racoons climb over the fence and trees.There are some mornings I wake, get the paper, and can tell there was a skunk in our car port during the night. Or, from what I learned when Animal Control came out here to trap a family of possums living under our deck, skunks dig these tiny holes in the mulch looking for these teeny tiny worms to feed on. That, and they love citrus and other fruit. Great. We have a lime tree and a pear tree in the yard. And we can forget having a foot garden in the backyard. Guess I'll get some space at the co-op place at the local Interfaith church.
Anyway, the dog will occasionally go out to investigate when she smells rodent. And yes, the dog has been sprayed a few times by a skunk. She even had to spend the night outside one time because she really got up close and personal with one and we weren't about to give her a tomato juice bath at 11PM. By the way, tomato juice doesn't work, at least not on dogs (don't know about humans); we will only use it to help take the edge off so we can tolerate the smell long enough to get the dog to the groomer.
She also had a close encounter with a raccoon which really scared me. I didn't want the raccoon to rip up the dog; they have sharp claws. But I think the dog scared the raccoon because that thing hightailed it to the nearest tree and jumped into the neighbors yard...who also have a dog.
Then there are the squirrels. The dog LOVES squirrels. I even found a squirrel toy for her at Wal-mart. She loves to chase after it when I throw it down the foyer hallway. She picks it up, walks briskly away with it, chews on it, whips it back and forth with it in her mouth...I wonder what she would do if she ever caught a real one? There are times I think the squirrels are playing with the dog in the backyard as they jump tree to tree and the dog tries to run and jump up at one.
So we trimmed our trees and made sure nothing was within 4 feet of the house, called Animal Control, and got rid of the rats. Everything was fine throughout winter. In summer of 2010 we had bees (FYI) in the attic - a lot of them! Now it's Spring. No, the rats aren't back; but we very badly wanted to rodent proof our house before they could have a chance to come back. Apparently, that is a reality because March is the time of year that rodents are having their babies so they're looking for a place to nest.
I feel better now knowing the house is rodent proof. It's a 3 year warranty. So if we get a rodent up in the attic (can't control the yard), Animal Control will come out and take care of the problem, meaning they will trap the rodent, fine its point of entry, and seal that up. It was expensive, but I have some peace of mind.
Actually, I take that back about controlling the backyard. It's not 100% fool proof because some rodents can climb a tree, but we can control the diggers. Buy a bag of lime and some sand at Home Depot. You make a mixture of the two, dig a small trench along your fence and pour. Now take a watering can and use that to water the mixture. Wait for it to dry. It will be like cement. That is what we did for the deck. We covered it up with dirt afterwards.
But along the fence we have landscape timbers. So before it gets really hot outside we need to do the same along the fence and put the landscape timbers back in place after the lime-sand mixture dries. The digging rodents don't like the feel and if you do it well enough, they will get discourage and leave. It's mainly skunks who dig. Possums are lazy and won't make much effort; they're more like opportunists and will climb through a hole if it's already there. So if we get rid of the skunks we can get rid of the possums.