With Halloween just around the corner, those of us with a darker side are busily preparing to scare the wits out of our neighbors, their children and anybody else who dares to drop by on All Hallow’s Eve.

There have been times while retrieving the ghouls, smoke machine, strobe lights, bats and other frightful occupants from storage, that I have also found what could be described as little black jelly beans all over the place.

Fortunately, I did not taste them to see how old they might be, because I know that these are not jelly beans, but the droppings of our friends the pack rat. Experience has taught me, they can be every bit as frightful in real life, as I try to be for Halloween.

In addition to leaving their fecal matter all over my stuff, pack rats can be fearfully destructive. They will go after the wiring in the storage room to line their nests. They strip insulation out of walls and make it the inner sanctum of their lair. Next they bring in cacti, bits of string and anything else they can get their hands on and pack it all around the exterior of the nest (also called a midden).

Here are a few do’s and don’ts if you discover pack rat activity in your storage:

  • Don’t get rodenticides or rat baits and toss them around the storage area or attic. This will likely result in dead, stinky rats smelling up your home. It will add to the spookiness, but not in a way you will enjoy.
  • Do use snap traps inside of tamper-proof containers to individually catch rodents. They can be easily retrieved this way, keeping your Halloween experience pure.
  • Don’t ignore this problem by moving the stuff they have been living around and perhaps in, they might move elsewhere in the house.
  • Do take care in cleaning up the droppings. Although they are not known to carry Hantavirus, there are other nasty things in them. Spray them with a good bactericide and then, while wearing a filter mask, sweep up the droppings.
  • Don’t throw everything away that has been touched by a packrat. Sometimes the chewing they leave behind adds credibility to your decorations
  • Do remove any discovered nesting materials.
  • Don’t ignore bugs that may appear shortly after getting rid of the rodents. These may be kissing bugs, and many people are allergic.
  • Do call University Termite and Pest Control if you feel this is beyond your desire or skill set to resolve.
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