- Our Town
Keeping your home rat-free in winter
When it’s cold and wet outside, most of us choose a nice dry place to hide from the elements. We are not alone in this preference, but we are very good at creating nice cozy places from which to hide from the winter. Which means, not only do we humans need to spend the winter months fighting-off the cold, we need to fight-off the rats desperate to get into our space.
“You look at rat statistics from any city, and they’re all the same,” says David Pinner. “When the cold weather hits in October and November, the rat problems skyrocket. They know, instinctually that if they don’t find food and somewhere warm, they’ll die.”
Pinner is a self-educated and he says, unfortunate rat expert.
“Years ago, when my son was little I had a serious rat problem in my house,” he says. “My roof was being renovated and it started getting really expensive, so I told the contractor to just finish up as quickly as he could. Well there were holes where rats could get in and let me tell you, it turned into something out of a Stephen King novel.”
Pinner says that after dealing with his own rat problem, people started asking him for help. The more he helped people the more he learned.
“Like the south-side of the house,” says Pinner. “I put my poison pipes on the south-side because that’s where its warmest and that’s where they want to be.”
His method of dealing with rat infestation is a three-foot, two-inch in diameter pvc pipe cut diagonally on either end to prevent the moisture from coming in, with a sliding window on top in which to put to poison.
“If you put it out at night and look in the morning and see the poison’s gone, you’ve got to put it in there again right away,” says Pinner. “And you’ve got to keep doing that until the poison stops disappearing.”
Pinner says he’s been viciously criticized for his methods, but he believes in them.
“I’ve seen how bad it can get,” he says. “I’ve had a woman come to me and say she’s moving out of her house and going to sell it because of rats. I’ve seen three entire floors of a house taken over by rats. They’ll get in your barbeque, they’ll get in your compost, in your walls, and the only way of fighting back is to make sure they’re bringing poison back to their nests.”
Pinner says he believes there are two kinds of rats on Bowen: roof rats (otherwise known as black rats) and the slightly larger norway rats; and that neither of these lived here 30 years ago, when he first moved here.
“I’ve heard some stories and I don’t know which are true,” says Pinner. “I’ve heard rats were first seen scurrying out of a pile of topsoil somewhere near Miller’s landing. I’ve also heard that they came in on a shipment of road-fill when they were building Sunset Road. It’s hard to know, but I can tell you for sure, that rats are here to stay.”
Pinner calls Bowen a “rat utopia” given the multitude of home composters, bird feeders, pet food doled out outside, outbuildings, and hot-tubs. He says he does not particularly want to be in the business of rat control, but will help people when they ask for it. Ideally, though, Pinner says he wants people to educate themselves about rats and how to keep them under control.
“We are supporting their population with our ignorance,” says Pinner. “If you just start looking on the internet, there you can learn everything you need to know and pick your method of fighting this battle. If you educate yourself, you can save a lot of money.”
In 2011, people living on Cates Hill reported a major rat infestation, and the creatures’ prediliction for car engines and chewing through wiring.
Cates Hill resident Elle Glave says that while some neighbours have had success using chili oil on their car engines, but both traps and cats have proved useless in keeping the rat population down in the area.
“The rats nest in all the rock walls around and really only poison kills them. But there are so many, it just goes on. They are like the deer and very brazen. You often see them trotting past in the daylight,” says Glave. “I think it’d take a concerted, BIM-led island-wide effort to eradicate (no pun intended) the vermin.”