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Friday, May 14, 2010

Under the same roof

It is just the two of us living under this roof........mostly. Rarely we have visitors, mainly the un-invited kind.

When we moved into the house in Spring of 2008, we were warned about droppings and odors in the inspection report. We tented the place to get rid of the termites and didn't bother too much about anything else.

One evening in August as Guru was chatting with Robert (our very fond electrical guy) right outside the garage with the garage door wide open, I spotted movement on one of the garage rafters. And lo behold was a four legged creature

Unfortunately, I am not reminded of "Jerry" or "Mickey Mouse" or the many nice cartoon characters when i spot one of them.

From then on, the scare was real and there began our fight against the un-invited folks that lived under the same roof.

A few days later, again around dusk, Guru came face to face with another one of them on the driveway. One of them had to make the move and our un-invited guest did. And straight to the cypress that was right up against the house and going all the way to the roof. (You can see the Cypress in the shadow, right next to the garage wall)

The spring and summer of 2009 was filled with a lot more activity than we were ready for. Early in Spring, I started hearing all these weird sounds at night, scratching, running and the like. It was at this time that we had removed all the old asbestos based duct work in the attic, with all the registers just opening up to empty space in the attic. One night we had a little mouse fall into the register and unable to get out. So the issue became all the more real. We got the mouse out ourselves (to catch a live mouse, it was gonna cost us $250, so we decided against it)

We freaked out about the possibility of more and decided to hire the some pest management company that charged us $250 to set 6 traps and come check on them once. So the guy set 3 in the attic and 3 in the crawl space. When he came to check on the traps in a few days, he said that 2 in the attic had been triggered but the mice that were caught were eaten up and after some research online we figured that Rats eat mice and it is called muricide. The 3 in the crawl space were however missing, and the guy was kinda mad at us saying that we checked and did something with the traps. Why would we when we were paying him for it !!
He then concluded that the traps might have been dragged away by the rats as they got caught....seriously these seem to be devilish we thought. These guys also offered to rodent proof our house for a price of $1500 but offered no guarantee on the issue coming to a close at a later point. At hat point, we figured it was time to take the project into our own hands and bid the guys adieu.

We were off to Osh and found this interesting kind of rat trap that would not be bloddy mess like the traditional mechanical ones, nor the possibility of the rat eating the stuff and croaking inside your dry walls. It was called the Rat Zapper, and the nice thing was that it came with a rat tail, that will light up once there was a kill. So we started to set the trap down in the crawl space, hoping to catch the mean rats that were feasting on the Mice. Everyday, the trap would get triggered, but there wouldn't be any kill, and i was beginning to wonder if this thing was working, considering we paid a fortune for it compared to the other traps out in the market.

And to add to the puzzle.....there was a weird smell that was emanating from the crawl space when we opened to check the trap. And all of a sudden, it dawned on us that we were not dealing with Rats.....but Skunks. We were in denial for a while and then in utter shock. Right away we went online to read up on Skunks, and were frozen in utter disbelief. It was the time of the year when they litter, and we might have a family living with us under the same roof.

Thankfully my team admin said that we should call the county vector control instead of a pest management company and they might be more helpful. I can't thank her enough for that advice. The Santa Clara county animal control person showed up right away and gave Guru a run down of what needs to be done. No traps...and we have to make the place un-inviting for them. We were out with pepper spray, newspapers every evening to stuff it into the crawl space entrance. We sprinkled talcum powder to track the footprints to make sure there was movement.

As we went about this daily chore, we were taking steps to rodent proof the place. The entrance of the main water supply to the house was in a pit that wasn't sealed with concrete. It was just dirt. The same was true for our crawl space entrance. We set out to line these with bricks and pour concrete. The pouring of the base concrete happened ahead of our Skunk discovery and we had paw prints on the concrete we had poured and some frantic digging. In fact that was what lead us to the litter theory. After this frantic digging we removed all the bricks that lined the pit and started stuffing just newspaper filled with pepper spray.After 10 days....the Santa Clara county animal control guy confirmed that they were out and we could go ahead and permanently seal the place.

We managed to have our handyman seal all the gaps in the roof and all around the crawl space with chicken wire mesh.

The water pit and the crawl space entrance got lined with bricks and we were happy that we had sealed things up.

Spring of 2010, and i was still hearing noises in our bedroom, something moving inside the drywall and scratching. All along Guru kept saying that it was nothing inside the house, and the sounds were from the access gate to the backyard that was right behind the bedroom wall. As spring came, the noises got louder and clearer and quite difficult to brush aside. 

In the meantime, I had ordered an outdoor camera from Logitech

It is a pretty easy to install product, and to get it hooked up to the outside wall, Guru had to go into the attic. We hadn't gone up there for a few months, at least not that far inside. It turned out that we were going to install the cam right outside the bedroom wall above the crawl space entrance. The same area from where i hear noses at night. And on the new pink insulation, we saw rat poop, fresh poop which couldn't have existed before because we cleaned up all the old insulation. So up went the RatZapper again with the bait, and we waited for a kill. Almost a month, and we never got any, and I still heard noises, once in a while. But i was telling myself that their activity was down because of the ultrasonic rat deterrent that we put up there when we set the traps.

At the same time this was happening, we were getting our backyard grading and irrigation done. The landscape guy had taken out the main water valve and dug up all the concrete around the water pits. And as he finished up, he just poured concrete into the hole instead of lining it up with brick and mortar. That night we heard loud noises in the attic nothing like we have ever heard before in the 2 years of living there. And at 9.30 pm that night the trap was triggered and we had a catch. We re-set it again the next day and we had another catch that evening. The Rat Zapper was a breeze to use and we love it.

It has been 2 weeks and we haven't heard any noise. We believe that the rats used the holes the Skunks had frantically dug when we briefly sealed the place not knowing we had a litter down there. Anyway....all is well that ends least for the time being.

1 comment:

  1. wow i didn't know the skunk story ....

    ----the wonderful sistehhhhrrr