Saturday, December 18, 2010


Recently I heard my placid 14-year-old cat give a blood-curdling shriek in the next room.  I rushed in to see her standing inches from the sliding glass door to the backyard, back arched and tail swollen like a bottle brush.  A half-grown coyote stood on the other side of the door, looking mildly amused.  He sauntered off when he saw me.

At the time I was just relieved that we never let Rusty go outside.  If she'd been out there, I'm sure she would have rushed over to defend the perimeter of her territory and ended up as a coyote snack.  Now, though, I wish I could invite the coyote back, along with his parents, siblings, and second cousins twice removed.

That's because last week we had to have a major chunk of the wiring leading to our pool equipment replaced for the third time this year because some varmint with sharp teeth had gnawed through it.  As if this weren't bad enough, the irrigation system for our front yard stopped working, and the repair guy confirmed that it had been sabotaged in several places by chewing critters.  Only he didn't say "chewing critters;" he said "rats."  His recommendation: put out poison pellets to deter the rats, gophers, rabbits, or other vermin responsible.

We've never wanted to do this and risk killing off the innocent fauna in the area.  (OK, part of this is my reluctance to deal with the ensuing corpses.)  On the other hand, we can't really afford to keep feeding the rabbits or gophers or rats (RATS!!) our electrical wiring and sprinkler pipe, and we're running out of other options.  We've tried burying everything securely, buying a baby gate for the enclosure around the pool equipment, and scattering bloodmeal and used kitty litter among the rocks in the yard - to no avail.  My mother tries bribing the rabbits in her yard with table scraps, assuming they'll leave her garden alone if they're already well-fed, but our homeowners association forbids the feeding of wildlife in our subdivision.  We may have to resort to poison.

The other possibility, of course, is to invite the local coyotes (or maybe the pair of large owls that nests nearby) to stake out our yard and pounce on any small furry intruders with a taste for metal and PVC.  However, I don't think coyotes can read, and I doubt that wandering the golf course where they supposedly live yelling "here, coyote, coyote" will work, either.  Any suggestions for attracting coyotes or deterring pica-afflicted rodents?

"I wouldn't mind the rat race - if the rats would lose once in a while. " ~Tom Wilson


  1. Rather a nasty dilemma! Poison is such a horrible ( albeit effective ) way to go ... you also run the risk of your cat finding and ingesting it ( shudder ).
    Here's a site that offers some natural rat repellents, a number of non-lethal alternatives that may work.
    Speaking from personal experience - we had mouse-squatters in one of our storage sheds - I know that peppermint oil works like a charm. However, for the areas which you will need to treat, this doesn't seem like a viable solution. You might try straight ammonia, it's relatively inexpensive, an important consideration since you'll need to reapply periodically.
    Anyway, give the site a look, they list quite a few possibilities ( toilet cakes, those pucks often placed in urinals, sounds like a good idea to try ).
    Good luck!

  2. Thank you, Nina! What a great site - we'll definitely try some of these things before we risk poisoning the neighborhood birds and innocent beasties!