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Appendix B Control tips for species that commonly cause nuisances.

MOLES

Species' Names

* Hairy-tailed mole, Parascalops breweri

* Star-nosed mole, Condylura cristata

* Eastern mole, Scalopus aquaticus

Size

Depending on the species, 1-5 ounces. The hairy-tailed and star-nosed moles are about 5-5 1/2 inches long, including the short tail, while the eastern mole is about 3 1/4-8 3/4 inches long. The snout of a star-nosed mole is ringed with 22 small, pink, fleshy projections that make it look like it has a sea anemone on the tip of its nose.

Signs of Their Presence

* Tunnels, or "runs," in the soil or lawn. (Runs of star-nosed moles are usually deeper and less noticeable than those of hairy-tailed moles, except, at times, in well-watered golf courses.) These tunnels are seen most often in the spring and fall, when the soil is moist, soft, and easy to dig. Moles make two kinds: feeder and travel tunnels. Feeder runs look like a long, squiggly, rounded ridge that's about two inches wide. Feeder tunnels tend to be short and very crooked, because if a mole finds an area that's full of food, it tends to dig all around, feeding. They'll abandon these runs when there's not much food left in them. Dead grass over the run is usually a sign of an old, abandoned run. (Moles don't eat grass, but they may loosen the roots from the soil, which can kill it.) Their travel tunnels are usually long and straight and often follow an edge, such as a driveway, fence, or foundation. Look for travel tunnels that continue into wooded areas because these will be the best spots in which to set traps.

* Molehills (also called boils or mounds): small, cone-shaped piles of soil that are usually just a few inches high and anywhere from a few inches to a foot wide. They vary in size. Often seen in the late fall, as the moles prepare for winter by digging deeper tunnels that are under the frost line. At that depth, the moles can't toss up the soil as they go, which is what they do when they're near the surface. So they'll usually dig forward for a while, then stop, and carry the soil up to the surface where they dump it, creating the molehill. Moles also dig deep tunnels in the summer when the soil is dry. Then, they're seeking earthworms, one of their favorite foods.

* It's unlikely you'll see or hear moles, or find scat or tracks because they spend their time underground. Although they feed and travel in the shallow, surface tunnels described above, they find shelter and raise their young in deeper tunnels that could be 6-24 inches below ground.

* Moles are often accused of crop damage that was actually caused by voles. Although moles rarely eat roots, their tunnels may damage them. So how do you tell a mole from a vole?
Moles have:                      Voles have:

Very small eyes                  Small eyes

No external ears                 Small, but definitely
                                 noticeable ears

A naked, pointy snout            Furry noses

Large front feet that are        Small, mouse-like feet
turned sideways, and
big claws (excellent shovels)


Diet

Mostly insects. Grubs, beetle larvae, earthworms, and some carrion. Occasionally, frogs and mice. Star-nosed moles may catch minnows. They must eat 70-100% of their body weight each day to have enough energy to burrow. Occasionally, they'll eat seeds, roots, or bulbs.

Typical Activity Patterns

Social style: Hairy-tailed moles are solitary, except briefly while mating. Star-nosed moles are thought to live in colonies.

Daily activity: Moles are most likely active throughout the day and night. They need to eat a lot to keep up their energy levels.

Hibernator? No. They simply move deeper into the soil, tunneling below the frost line.

Migrates? No.

Where Found

Distribution: Throughout the region.

Habitat: Lawns, meadows, orchards, and woods with moist, loose soil. Hairy-tailed moles prefer loamy, sandy soils well covered with plants and avoid wet, dry, or heavy clay soils. Star-nosed moles prefer swamps, bogs, and low, wet meadows (they've even been seen swimming under ice in the winter) but can manage in somewhat drier locales.

Territory and home range: Territorial. Two moles usually fight when they meet, except during the mating season. The home ranges of male and female moles overlap, but the home ranges of the females do not seem to overlap with those of other females. Some tunnels overlap territories and are used like highways by two or more moles. The males range over about two acres, females over a half-acre.

Breeding Habits

Pair bonding style: Polygamous. Female raises the young alone in an underground nest chamber lined with leaves and grasses. The nest chamber is usually found in a deeper tunnel, perhaps as far as two feet underground.

Breeding dates: Late February to March. Gestation takes about 42 days.

Birthing period: April to May.

Litter size: 3-7.

Weaning dates: Between 4-5 weeks of age.

Common Nuisance Situations

Time of year: Spring (April-May) and fall (September -November), when surface soil is moist and easy to dig, and grubs and worms are nearest the surface. You may receive a few calls as soon as the snow melts, which reveals old damage, but should wait to see if there are still moles present. After the snow melts, the runways seen above ground in turf are often the result of meadow vole activity, not moles.

What are they doing?

* While helping rid lawns, gardens, and golf courses of grubs, moles create unsightly runs. Their tunnels disfigure lawns and can wreak havoc in a garden.

* Disease risks: Almost none.

Debunking Myths about Moles

* Moles are often mistaken for voles, mice, and shrews. If in doubt, check your field guides.

* Many people believe that there's a mole in every tunnel they see. The good news is that even though you may see dozens of tunnels, there are probably only a few moles in the yard. Possibly only one or two. Really! Moles dig fast: about 18 feet/hour. They may be able to tunnel 100 feet a day or more, depending on soil conditions. You may think your lawn is full of moles, when it's just the home of a few, very busy little guys.

Best Practices

First, decide whether this is really a problem or not. Moles eat a huge number of grubs that damage lawns and gardens. Is the sight of the tunnels tolerable? If not, trapping is currently considered most effective, but repellents, exclusion, and habitat modification techniques may also contribute to an effective strategy, and may be preferred by some of your customers.

Protect vulnerable plants and lawns:

* Small areas can be fenced with hardware cloth or sheet metal. The fence should be two feet high, buried a foot deep, with the bottom edge bent outward into an L-shaped shelf that sticks out a foot. This should form a 90[degrees] angle. This keeps the moles from burrowing under the fence.

Make the area less attractive for moles: Moles prefer wet, low areas that are rich in grubs. Moles follow their food sources, so if there are fewer grubs, the moles may move on--just remember that moles eat worms and other foods, too.

* Don't overwater your lawns.

* Improve soil drainage and try to eliminate low spots.

Trapping Strategies

Lethal traps:

* There are several effective lethal traps for moles, including harpoon-shaped or scissor-jawed traps. A newer model, the NoMol trap, doesn't contain a spear or heavy springs so you may find it easier to use.

* Trap in the spring or fall, when the soil is moist and the moles are closer to the surface.

* If the lawn is so dug up that you can't tell the feeder tunnels from the travel tunnels, roll it flat (if it's small, walk it flat). Flag the area so you can find it easily, then watch for a few days. If the flattened area is raised again, you're looking at an active run.

* Watering a dry lawn will entice worms and moles closer to the surface, where the moles will be easier to catch.

* Set multiple traps. If you can't choose between locations, set traps in both.

* Set locations: Best: an active travel tunnel that extends into a wooded area. Good: any active travel tunnel, or a molehill. Questionable: feeding tunnels. The moles may not return to them.

* Place two traps in each tunnel, one in each direction. Homeowners can help you by checking lawns daily for new damage.

* Check traps frequently. If the mole is still alive, remove the stake carefully and grasp the wire to pull out the trap. Use a spare NoMol trap to kill the mole. Slide the trap's arms so that the jaws are just behind the mole's front feet, then release the tongs.

Preferred Killing Methods

* A lethal trap

Acceptable Killing Methods

* Pesticides (gel, gummy, and grain-based baits), for those WCOs with commercial pesticide applicator licenses. Baits often don't work well because moles are looking for live prey: earthworms and grubs.

Control Strategies that Don't Work Particularly Well

* Chewing gum, mothballs, thumpers, ultrasonic devices, windmills, and flooding the tunnels--none have proved effective.

* Grub treatments (insecticides) may get rid of the grubs in your lawn, but there will still be plenty of worms for the moles to eat. And the insecticides may not work well in heavy, clay soils, anyway. It's just not a good strategy for discouraging moles.

* Grain-based baits (containing zinc phosphide) don't work that well because moles don't normally eat grain. If they aren't attracted to the bait, they're not likely to ingest the poison.

* Borders of marigolds are thought to repel moles but haven't been tested.

* Castor-oil based repellents haven't been well studied yet, so their effectiveness is unknown.

OPOSSUM (Didelphis virginiana)

North America's only marsupial (mammals whose young develop in a pouch). They're more closely related to kangaroos and koalas than to the other animals in the neighborhood!

Size

From 4 to 14 pounds. Body is 15-20 inches long. They often suffer frostbite and lose part of their tails and ears.

Signs of Their Presence

* Sounds: Growl, hiss, screech when threatened.

* Evidence of their feeding: Eggs that have been chewed into many small pieces. (Raccoons usually remove one end of the shell without crushing it. Foxes carry eggs away. Weasels and mink crush the entire egg.) Opossums maul chickens beginning at the rear, while raccoons bite their heads off.

* Tracks: Look like they were made by little human hands, fingers spread wide apart (Figures B-12 and B-13).

* Scats: Are semi-liquid and don't last long. Left everywhere, even in the den. When scared, possums may secrete a smelly, greenish fluid out of their anus (Figure B-14).

Diet

Opportunist. Opossums eat mostly meat (mainly insects or carrion) but they also eat many plants, especially fruits and grains. They may eat garbage, compost, pet food, bird seed, bird eggs, and young birds (turkeys, chickens, geese, and game birds). They also eat voles, shrews, worms, and toads.

Typical Activity Patterns

Social style: Solitary.

Daily activity: Usually nocturnal.

Hibernator? No, but does den up for days at a time when the weather is bad.

Migrates? No.

[FIGURE B-12 OMITTED]

[FIGURE B-13 OMITTED]

[FIGURE B-14 OMITTED]

Where Found

Distribution: Throughout the region.

Habitat: Wide ranging--arid to moist, woodsy to open, but more common near streams and swamps. Dens in a different place three out of four nights (except in the cold of winter). Finds shelter under buildings, in brush heaps, hollow logs or trees, old crow or squirrel nests, and rock crevices. Opossums may share quarters with woodchucks, skunks, and rabbits.

Territory and home range: Not territorial. They have constantly shifting home ranges and may be considered nomadic. Home range is usually 10-50 acres.

Breeding Habits

Pair bonding style: Polygamous. Females raise the young alone.

Breeding dates: February through June. Most females, though, have just 1-2 litters per year. The young are born about 13 days after breeding.

Litter size: 6-16, average 8.

Life in a pouch: The tiny (about 1/2 inch long) young are born blind and helpless. They must crawl into the mother's pouch and attach to a nipple. They'll remain in the pouch for 7-8 weeks, firmly attached to that nipple. Then, for about 2 weeks, they'll begin to explore the world, often riding on the mother's back. They'll return to her pouch to nurse. They're weaned at about 3 months old and are generally fully independent by the time they're 7 inches long.

Amount of time young remain with parents beyond weaning date: 3-4 weeks.

Common Nuisance Situations

Time of year: Any time of year.

What are they doing?

* Raid gardens, chicken coops, bird feeders, pet food, and garbage.

* Sometimes den in garages or attics and make a mess.

* A parasite found in the feces of opossums can contaminate water and food sources for horses (both hay and feed). This parasite can transmit a disease to horses, called equine protozoal myelitis. This disease affects the nervous system and can cause lameness.

* Disease risks to people: mange, rabies (rarely).

Debunking Myths about Opossums

A hissing or drooling possum is not necessarily rabid. When threatened, a healthy opossum may bare its teeth, make a lot of noise, drool, bite, or leak a nasty fluid out of its anus. Stress may cause them to play dead, which might confuse predators and prevent the possums from being eaten.

Best Practices

Relax:

* Opossums move around a lot, and usually don't stay in one den site. If the problem was caused by an individual possum, it will probably leave on its own. Just realize that the problem could be caused by different animals, which are all attracted by the same source of food, water, or shelter.

Remove food sources and shelter:

* Put trash out in the morning instead of the evening.

* Possum-proof garbage can with a tight-fitting lid, or secure it with straps.

* Don't leave pet food out at night.

* Enclose compost piles in a framed box using hardware cloth; in a sturdy container, such as a 55-gallon drum; or in a commercial compost container.

* Keep the area under bird feeders clean.

* Remove brush piles and debris.

* Close garage doors at night.

Protect vulnerable livestock:

* Close doors to poultry houses, and if birds are caged, keep those doors closed, too.

* To keep opossums from climbing over a wire mesh fence, install a tightly stretched electric wire near the top of the fence, about 3 inches out from the mesh.

* Install an electric fence around the hen house, or use hardware cloth to cover holes and potential entrances.

Trapping Strategies

Live traps:

* Opossums are easily caught with cage traps.

* Foothold traps (#1 or #1 1/2) are also effective.

* Set traps along fence rows or trailways in a dirt hole, cubby, or running pole set.

* They prefer slightly spoiled baits, such as cheese or fruit. If you use a box trap with these baits, you may also capture skunks so be prepared to release them.

* They're slow, so it's possible to capture them by hand, or with the use of a catchpole. Grasp the end of the tail (wear heavy gloves because they have sharp teeth). If you're holding a possum and it tries to climb its tail to reach and bite your hand, lower it to the ground, where it will attempt to crawl away.

* Assume that a female opossum has young in her pouch during the rearing season (March--August). The females are not likely to retrieve young, so make sure that all her babies are either in her pouch or clinging to her before you release her.

Lethal traps:

* Body-gripping trap, #120 or #160, set in a vertical cubby for greater selectivity (see Chapter Five for details).

Preferred Killing Methods

* C[O.sub.2] chamber

* Lethal trap

* Lethal injection of barbiturate, if possible

* Shooting, using a shotgun with #6 shot or larger, or a .22 caliber rifle (heart/lungs shot is preferred). Why is just the heart/lungs shot listed as preferred? The head shot is difficult because possums have very small brains located in a relatively large skull--and there's a strong crest on their skull, which can deflect the bullet. See Figures B-15a and B-15b for more information about the head shot.

Acceptable Killing Methods

* Gunshot to the head (this is a difficult target and should be attempted only by WCOs who are more experienced and skilled in the use of firearms)

* Stunning and chest compression

* Stunning and exsanguinations

[FIGURE B-15a-b OMITTED]

RABBIT, EASTERN COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus floridanus)

Size

From 2 to 4 pounds. Body is 14-18 inches long.

Signs of Their Presence

* Visual sighting of animal.

* Scat: 1/3 inch in diameter, round to somewhat saucer-shaped pellets. One rabbit leaves 250 to 500 pellets a day. Like hares, voles, and beavers, they eat their feces to extract more nutrients from grasses and tree bark, which are difficult to digest.

* Damaged garden crops, shrubs, and trees. Usually you can tell if this damage was caused by a rabbit, vole, woodchuck, or deer. Rabbits attack smooth bark and gnaw in patches. Their toothmarks are a little less than an inch wide--wider, but less distinct, than the voles'. They often clip twigs, branches, and berry canes with a clean 45[degrees]-angle cut. Deer, on the other hand, lack upper incisors, so they leave ragged edges when they browse on branches.

* Tracks: Seen in groups of four. The tracks of the back feet actually imprint ahead of the front feet because rabbits leap, pushing off from their front feet. The front track is almost round, about 1 inch wide, the hind track is about 3-4 inches long and oblong.

* Sounds: Usually quiet, other than a high scream of distress when attacked, the grunt of the mother when her nest is approached, or the high squeal of a female during mating.

Diet

Herbivore. In the winter, they often eat the bark, twigs, and buds of ornamental shrubs and fruit trees because everything else is covered by snow. In the spring and summer, their big menu includes vegetables, legumes, field crops, flowers, and other succulent green plants.

Typical Activity Patterns

Social style: Mostly solitary, although they may have an informal social network.

Daily activity: Nocturnal, and crepuscular. May feed during the day in summer, under or near thick cover.

Hibernator? No.

Migrates? No.

Where Found

Distribution: Throughout the region.

Habitat: Prefer brushy fence rows, field edges, overgrown pastures, sapling stands, and shrub or perennial borders in landscaped backyards. They don't need a water source because they can get what they need from snow or dew. Can reach densities of 3-10/acre; more, if the habitat is favorable (suburban densities are often higher, too). They don't dig holes, but will take refuge in a skunk or woodchuck burrow in bad weather--always staying right near the entry. Normally they rest in small depressions in the grass.

Territory and home range: Not territorial, but they are aggressive and establish a dominance ranking within each gender. Females are generally dominant over males, except during breeding. Rabbits have overlapping home ranges of 1-14 acres (average 5 acres) that may shift as food sources and cover change with the seasons. Males' home ranges are somewhat larger than females.

Breeding Habits

Pair bonding style: Rabbits are polygamous, with dominant males mating the most. Female raises the young alone.

Breeding dates: Late February through September. Gestation is variable but averages 28 days. Females have up to 6 litters per year, giving birth to as many as 35 young. Females may breed again as soon as they've given birth.

Litter size: 4-5. May see as few as 2 or as many as 8. Mothers visit their young only at night, to nurse them. Weaning dates: Between 4-5 weeks old.

Amount of time young remain with parents beyond weaning date: Not long.

Common Nuisance Situations

Time of year: Any time of year.

What are they doing?

* Eat flowers, vegetables, and agricultural crops.

* Can girdle young trees and shrubs (ornamental and fruit) during winter.

* Disease risks: tularemia.

Best Practices

Rabbits are such prolific breeders, and there are always so many nearby that are ready to move into a vacant territory, that removal won't be effective for long. The best solution combines exclusion and habitat modification.

Reduce their nesting sites:

* Rabbits need dense cover close to their feeding areas to protect them from predators. Remove the cover and you make the area far less attractive to rabbits.

* Remove brush piles.

* Trim shrubs and fencerows.

* Keep paths around gardens and fields closely mowed.

* Clean up overgrown ditches or stream banks that are near crops.

Protect vulnerable plants or areas:

* For a small area, erect a 2-foot-high chicken wire fence with a 1-inch mesh that's either buried a few inches deep or is very tight to the ground. Rabbits won't dig under the fence, but they will try to squeeze through loose spots. Support the fence every 6-8 feet with a strong post.

* Put cylinders of quarter-inch mesh hardware cloth around trees and shrubs until their bark roughens. Keep the mesh an inch or so away from the plant. If you use half-inch mesh, be sure it's far enough away from the plant to prevent the rabbits from nibbling through the mesh.

* Commercial tree wrap can protect young trees. Remember, most tree damage happens during the winter. When there's deep snow, the rabbits can reach 20 inches above snow depth.

* A dome or cage of chicken wire over small garden beds will discourage rabbits.

* A single-strand polytape electric fence will work well. To keep deer from damaging the fence accidentally, hang white cotton flagging on the fence every 6 feet to make it more obvious at night. You can spray the flagging with a deer repellent for extra security (if you have a commercial pesticide applicator license).

* If there's an existing electric fence, add three additional wires at 5, 10, and 15 inches from the ground to keep the rabbits out, too. This also discourages woodchucks.

* A 2-foot-high welded wire fence made of 1-inch mesh, installed in the rat wall L shape with a top wire that's electric also works well, but is more expensive.

WCOs with commercial pesticide applicator licenses:

* Many repellents registered for use against deer are also registered for rabbits. Egg-based repellents have proved effective; other possibilities include capsaicin (hot pepper), and thiram products.

Trapping Strategies

Rabbits are such prolific breeders that trapping--or for that matter, shooting--won't solve the problem for long. More rabbits will gladly move in from other areas.

Live traps:

* Rabbits are protected small game animals. Permits will be needed to trap and transport live rabbits. You can suggest that customers invite beagle club members to live trap and remove rabbits from their properties with the appropriate state permits.

* Rabbits are easy to capture in a box or cage trap (9 x 9 x 18 inches). Traps should be set just after sunset or just before sunrise, when the rabbits are most active. Winter is the easiest time to trap rabbits because there's less food around, so the bait is often more attractive.

* Place traps close to the hole, feeding area, or trail. A trail of a few pieces of bait leading to the trap will help guide the rabbit into the trap.

* Bait with apples or corn, and add a few rabbit droppings to increase the bait's appeal.

* Don't clean the trap between uses because the scent of a rabbit will attract other rabbits.

* Place traps away from prevailing winds (winter) to keep snow and dry leaves from interfering with the trap door. And cover with dark canvas or other material to make the trap seem like a safe, secure place.

* After a week, if the trap's not working, move to a new site.

Lethal techniques:

* Body-gripping traps, #110, or #120, set in the hole. Cover the trap or take other precautions to prevent the capture of nontargets, as described in Chapter Five.

* In rural areas, you can also suggest that customers invite hunters to hunt on their properties during the legal season. An overall reduction in the local rabbit population may help reduce the chances of conflicts.

Preferred Killing Methods

* C[O.sub.2] chamber

* Cervical dislocation

* Lethal dose of barbiturate, if possible

* Stunning and chest compression

* Shooting using an air rifle, shotgun, or .22 caliber rifle (target the head if rabies testing isn't required, or the heart/lungs)

Acceptable Killing Methods

* Stunning and decapitation

* Stunning and cervical dislocation

* Stunning and shooting

RACCOON (Procyon lotor)

Size

From 12 to 36 pounds. Body is 26-38 inches long, including 10-inch tail.

Signs of Their Presence

* Visual sightings of the animal.

* Sounds: Cries include a whistle-like tremolo, hisses, soft grunts, barks, growls, and a "churrchurr" noise while feeding. Cry when attacked is a piercing cascade of snarling screams. The young are quite noisy, their chitters are easily heard in the house, and often mistaken for birds. Raccoons can make a lot of noise when they lumber around in your attic.

* Tracks: Flatfooted, like people, so track is big for the animal's size. The length and width of the front paw is about equal, about 2 inches long. The hind paw is much longer than it is wide, about 3 1/4-4 1/4 inches long; described as "a miniature human footprint with abnormally long toes" (Figures B-16 and B-17).

Scat: Likely found at the base of trees, on logs, big rocks, woodpiles, or other prominences (such as roofs). The scat often shows what they've been eating and can give clues about what is attracting the raccoons to the site (Figure B-18).

Building damage: Black smudges on walls or downspouts; bent gutters; holes in the siding or boards torn off; damaged soffits or louvers; damaged insulation; odors.

Crop damage: Partially eaten corn ears with the husks pulled back, or broken stalks; hole in the rind of watermelons, through which the contents have been pulled out.

Diet

Opportunist. Eats fruits, berries, and mast (acorns, and nuts and seeds from trees); insects; worms; frogs; fish; turtles; mice; crayfish, clams, and snails; eggs and young of birds and reptiles; garden, orchard, and field crops; bird seed; pet food; garbage; and carrion.

[FIGURE B-16 OMITTED]

[FIGURE B-17 OMITTED]

[FIGURE B-18 OMITTED]

Typical Activity Patterns

Social style: Generally solitary, except female with young.

Daily activity: Nocturnal, but may be active during the day, especially in the spring and summer when the female is nursing her young and needs more food, or when she's looking for a den site.

Hibernator? Sleeps for days at a time during the coldest weather (below 25[degrees]F). Adult females (with their young) often den together, especially in a preferred cavity or attic. Raccoons may lose half of their body weight during the winter, as they live off stored fat.

Migrates? No.

Where Found

Distribution: Throughout our region. Can reach densities of 30-40 raccoons/square mile in rural areas, 100+ raccoons/square mile in urban areas.

Habitat: Prefers hardwood forests near streams, rivers, swamps, or ponds. Highly adaptable. Dens in tree cavities and hollow logs, rock crevices, burrows, brush piles, haystacks, beaver lodges, chimneys, attics, crawl spaces, barns, buildings, culverts, storm sewers, and abandoned autos. Usually has a central den (and a few spares) within its range. Females may den together in groups of up to a dozen. Males den by themselves.

Territory and home range: Not territorial, but may fight to establish dominance in common feeding grounds (such as a dumpster). The adult's home range is about a mile in diameter.

Breeding Habits

Pair bonding style: Polygamous. Female raises the young alone. If an adult male comes across the young, he may kill them.

Breeding dates: Peaks in late January to February. Gestation takes about 63 days.

Birthing period: March through May. Late-breeding females may give birth in June, July, or August.

Litter size: 3-5, average 4. May see as few as one kit or as many as eight.

Weaning dates: Between 2-4 months of age.

Amount of time young remain with parents beyond weaning date: Young males leave in the fall, but young females may remain with their mother through their first winter, dispersing the next spring.

Common Nuisance Situations

Time of year: Any time of year. Calls from customers often peak from mid-March through mid-May, when the females are looking for den sites in which to raise their young. From mid-May through July, customers may call about "sick" or "rabid" raccoons that are active during the day (see explanation below). From the late summer through the fall, raccoons may dig through lawns and turf in search of grubs.

What are they doing?

* They den in attics, chimneys, sheds, and barns, annoying people with their noise and odors.

* Their nest materials might block a vent, causing a fire hazard. They also chew on wires.

* Raccoons can damage buildings, either purposefully, to gain entry or create a nesting area, or accidentally, because they're heavy enough to bend gutters as they move through them. Raccoons enter buildings through the roof (using rain gutters, brick chimneys, and overhanging branches to reach the roof ); push their way through louvers or soffits; or climb directly up the siding. They may tear shingles, vents, or roofing material to gain entry.

* Raccoons also cause damage as they feed, pillaging gardens and agricultural crops, knocking over and chewing through garbage cans, getting stuck in dumpsters, pulling down and chewing holes in bird feeders, and pulling up turf for worms and grubs.

* Their scat fouls yards and children's play areas and may present a health hazard (parasites found in scat).

* Disease risks: Rabies (they are the primary rabies vector species along the Atlantic seaboard), raccoon roundworm.

Debunking Myths about Raccoons

* A raccoon that's active during the day is not necessarily rabid. It may be a healthy female that's feeding more often than usual, because of the demands of her young. When seeking den sites, coons may also be active during the day. Habitat destruction or development may also prompt increases in daytime activity.

* In raccoons, the symptoms of canine distemper can be easily mistaken for rabies. This leads some people to overestimate the number of rabid raccoons.

Best Practices

Remove artificial food sources (garbage, compost, bird seed, pet food):

* If anyone is feeding the raccoons, persuade them to stop.

* Put trash out in the morning, instead of the evening, if possible, or keep trash in a protected area.

* Raccoon-proof garbage cans or dumpsters with a tight-fitting lid (coons seem to have more trouble opening the type of can that has a 4-inch-high lid that twists on). Secure garbage can with heavy-duty straps or bungee cords, or attach it to a post, or keep it out of reach in the garage (close garage doors at night), or place the can in a covered and secured bin. A top that closes with a latch and snap hook will keep the coons out but will be easy for the garbage collectors to open.

* Feed birds during the winter and gradually stop by April. If the customer really wants to feed birds during the warmer months, install a predator guard on the bird feeder pole. Use sturdy poles. Keep the area underneath the feeder clean.

* Enclose compost piles in a framed box using hardware cloth or welded wire; in a sturdy container, such as a 55-gallon drum; or in a commercial compost container.

* Feed pets indoors. Any food left outdoors should be removed at night. Pet food bowls should also be brought indoors because they retain attractive odors.

Protect children at play:

* Cover children's sandboxes.

* Teach kids to wash their hands thoroughly after outdoor activity. Wash toys that were used outdoors with a mild bleach solution (10% chlorine beach, which is one part bleach to nine parts water).

* Keep kids away from typical raccoon latrine areas (base of trees and wood piles). As best you can, keep kids from putting things in their mouths. Young children may put raccoon scat, wood chips, soil, or other potentially contaminated objects (including their own dirty hands) into their mouths.

* If there's a known latrine site on the property, you may wish to alter the site conditions to make it less attractive, so the raccoons will stop using it. Remove piles of logs or debris.

Protect vulnerable crops:

* Establish a barrier around gardens and fields with a 2-wire electric fence (if allowed by local ordinances) with the wires placed at 5 and 10 inches above the ground. Fences can be turned off during the day (or left on to also prevent woodchuck damage). Best to install fences at least two weeks before crops reach an alluring stage, so the coons haven't developed the habit of feeding in the garden or field.

* Wrap filament tape around ripening ears of corn (tape should have glass-yarn filaments in it so the coons can't tear through it).

* One scare device, the Critter Gitter, combines a siren and flashing lights. It's triggered by a motion detector. The device switches patterns, so it should be effective longer than a scare device that doesn't vary.

Prevent entry into building: First step: if there are no definitive signs of raccoon activity, determine if coons are still inside by plugging the entry hole with newspaper. If the paper is still there when you return two days later, you can begin exclusion. In the winter, they may be napping, so it may be more difficult to determine whether they're inside or not. Inspect the site as thoroughly as possible.

If this is a preventive action, or there are no young present, you can:

* Replace plastic vents and louvers with metal designs that are securely attached to the building. This is most important for gable louvers, soffit ventilation openings, and roof vents.

* Half-inch hardware cloth (or, even better, welded wire mesh) or galvanized sheet metal may be used to screen holes, decks, or other vulnerable areas. To protect the area underneath a deck or porch, create an L-shaped "rat wall." Attach the hardware cloth to the bottom of the deck. Then bury the bottom 6-12 inches deep, with a 12-inch shelf that sticks out, to prevent animals from digging underneath the barrier.

* Cover chimney flues with commercial caps. Coons can remove some covers, so choose a design that bolts securely to the flue. Raccoons can usually remove the type of chimney cap that simply slips inside the tile liner of the chimney.

* Trim overhanging tree branches 6-8 feet away from the house to make it harder for them to reach the roof (if you also want to foil squirrels, trim to 10 feet away from the building).

* Attach a 2-foot-wide band of metal flashing around trees at chest height, to prevent raccoons from climbing the trees.

If young are present, remove the entire family before blocking the entrance to their den:

* If the raccoons are older and mobile, install a one-way door over the entry hole. The mother and young will leave on their own, but won't be able to re-enter. The mother may bring her young to one of her other dens.

* For trap-and-release strategies to reduce the risk of orphaning wildlife, see Chapter Five. Remove the female at dusk or in the evening.

Trapping Strategies Live traps:

Ideally, cage trap should be at least 10 x 12 x 32 inches for a single-door model, longer for double-door models. Bait them with commercial sweet baits and anise oil as an attractant.

* Place a board (or some other sturdy object) underneath the trap to protect the lawn or roof shingles. The board should be 6-8 inches wider than the trap, all the way around. Coons often reach outside traps, grabbing and tearing at anything they can get their paws on as they try to escape. This precaution applies to all live traps, such as cage traps, foothold traps, and foot encapsulating devices.

* New foot encapsulating trap designs specifically for use with raccoons (Lil' Grizz Get'rz, EGG trap, Duffer trap) reduce both the chance of catching the wrong species and the chance of the captured raccoon injuring itself.

* Traditional foothold traps, #1 or 11/2, baited with commercial sweet bait.

* Foothold traps are not recommended for use inside a building because the captured raccoon may damage whatever it can reach.

Lethal traps:

* Body-gripping trap, #120, #160, or #220, preferably in a restricted opening set that reduces the risk to dogs and cats (vertical cubby, deep-notch box, or a bucket with a restricted opening). These sets also work well if the entry site is on a building, such as a soffit vent or roof vent. See Chapter Five for details and other tips that reduce the risk of capturing an unintended animal, such as using a one-way trigger.

* Modify the trigger to help ensure a top-to-bottom strike (which is more humane) and to prevent the raccoon from refusing to enter the trap. Raccoons don't like to have anything brush against their eyes or whiskers, so separate the trigger and center it on the top or bottom of the trap. Proper positioning helps to ensure a cleaner, more humane catch.

Preferred Killing Methods

* C[O.sub.2] chamber

* Lethal trap

* Shooting, using a shotgun with #6 shot or larger, or a .22 caliber rifle (target the head, if no rabies testing is required, or the heart/lungs)

* Lethal injection of barbiturate

Acceptable Killing Methods

* Stunning and shooting

* Stunning and C[O.sub.2] chamber

* Stunning and chest compression, for a smaller raccoon (one that weighs less than 8 pounds)

Control Strategies that Don't Work Particularly Well

* Lights, radios, dogs, scarecrows, streamers, and aluminum pans often don't work.

* Ammonia is dangerous to raccoons and people.

Its odor may persuade an adult raccoon to vacate a chimney but there's no guarantee that she'll remove her young--she may simply abandon them. There are better removal methods. WCOs cannot use ammonia even if they have a commercial pesticide applicator license because it's not registered as a repellent.

* Registered repellents that have been tested have proven ineffective.

NORWAY RAT (Rattus norvegicus)

Size

This exotic species may weigh up to 1 pound. They're 12-18 inches long, from the nose to the tip of the tail. The tail is somewhat shorter than the body.

Signs of Their Presence

* Sounds: Squeaking, scuttling, scratching, or gnawing inside the walls, ceilings, or between floors of buildings.

* Scat: 1/2-3/4 inches long with blunt ends. Look in kitchen cabinets, drawers, and corners; on counters, under sinks, behind appliances, near food, and in cellars, attics, along walls in barns, warehouses, and feed storage areas. Use an ultraviolet light to look for their urine stains on woodwork (it glows blue-white). Rat urine smells musty and experienced WCOs can distinguish it from mouse urine.

* Runs, smudge marks: Rats use the same route over and over. Eventually, a faint, dark "trail" of body oil and dirt may be noticeable on baseboards and along walls, on beams, rafters, and pipes. Look as well for smooth, worn paths in insulation.

* Nests and burrow holes: They will nest indoors and out. If outdoors, their burrows are usually about 1 1/2-2 feet deep and 3 feet long, with two or more entrances, and usually a well-hidden escape route. Their outdoor burrows are often found in river banks and under sidewalks, platforms, boards, junk piles, foundations, and slabs. They may nest indoors in basements and the lower floors of a building, in crawl spaces, storage rooms, under floors, pallets, junk, and boards, or behind stored items. They may nest in sewers or storm drains. Rat nests are usually 8-12 inches in diameter, made of shredded paper, cardboard, insulation, and bits of fabric or plastic. Their burrow holes are usually 2-4 inches wide.

* Damage to stored goods and buildings: Gnaw marks are often seen on the bottoms and corners of doors, on ledges, in the corners of walls, and on stored materials. Look also for holes and piles of wood shavings. Check cabinets, electric cables, pipes, baseboards, window casings, and foundations. They will gnaw on almost any building material: wood, cinder blocks, aluminum, sheet metal, glass, adobe, asbestos. Their teeth grow constantly, so they gnaw to keep them trimmed.

* Evidence of their feeding: Rats are steady feeders, and will settle down and eat large quantities at a sitting. Their leftovers are usually half-eaten pieces of grain. Rats need water every day. May see and smell scat and urine.

Diet

Opportunist. Norway rats prefer fresh food over garbage, but they'll make do with what's available. They prefer cereal grains and high-protein foods such as meats (sandwich meats, insects, mice, bird eggs, young birds), fish, nuts, insects, and pet food, and garbage. They'll eat some fruits (especially dried fruit), cheese, peanut butter, bird seed, potatoes and vegetables, bacon, butter and lard, compost, and manure. They'll even eat paraffin wax, leather products, and the feces of dogs, cats, or horses.

Typical Activity Patterns

Social style: Generally colonial, with an established hierarchy, although you may find solitary rats.

Daily activity: Nocturnal. If populations are very high, they may be active during the day, too.

Hibernator? No.

Migrates? No.

Where Found

Distribution: Widespread, in urban, suburban, and rural areas throughout the East. Rats are generally found near people. Although many people think of rats as an urban problem, about half of North America's rats live on farms.

Habitat: Any building that provides food and shelter, usually in the basement and on the lower floors of the building. They're found in apartment buildings, homes, kennels, warehouses, stores, slaughterhouses, barns, livestock buildings, silos, granaries, even sewers and dumpsters. Rats will nest underneath buildings and concrete slabs, along stream banks, around ponds, and in dumps. They like to nest near water.

Territory and home range: Territorial, especially among males. Daily, rats will travel through an area that's up to 100-150 feet in diameter, more than ten times the size of the foraging range of a house mouse. Rats generally stay within 300 feet of their burrows.

Breeding Habits

Pair bonding style: Rats are polygamous. Female raises the young alone.

Breeding dates: Peaks during the spring and fall. Females may breed again within a day or two of birthing and may produce 4-6 litters a year.

Litter size: 6-12. Gestation takes about 21-23 days.

Weaning dates: Between 3-4 weeks of age.

Amount of time young remain with parents beyond weaning date: Not long!

Estimating rat populations:

* There are probably about 10 rats in the area for each one spotted at night. Medium population: see one or two rats at night, but none seen during the day; or find old scat, or old gnaw marks. High population: see three or more rats at night, or see rats during the day; find fresh scat; gnaw marks and tracks are abundant.

* Another way to estimate populations: Put out food, then record how much is eaten by the rats to estimate the minimum number of rats in the area. Use finely ground grain, not whole grain or pellets, which the rats can carry off. Remember, rats are cautious, so give them some time to get used to this food source before you begin your data collection. When you're ready to collect data, weigh the food (in ounces) then place it where you believe the rats are active. The next day, weigh whatever's left. That tells you how much food they ate. Multiply that number by two, because one ounce of food/day typically supports two rats, and you'll have an estimate of how many rats are in the area. Of course, rats have other food sources, so this isn't exact.

Example:

a. Day one, place 40 ounces of grain near a rat hole.

b. Day two, measure what's left over (for this example, let's say 12 ounces).

c. Subtract the amount left over from the total bait: 40 - 12 = 28 ounces eaten.

d. Multiply the amount of grain eaten by 2 (each ounce supports 2 rats): 28 x 2 = 56 rats.

Common Nuisance Situations

Time of year: Any time of year.

What are they doing?

* Rats can cause extensive damage to buildings and household goods as they seek food and nest sites. They'll gnaw on or foul siding (even aluminum), woodwork, sheet metal, plasterboard (Sheetrock), insulation, plastic food containers (including garbage cans), papers, packaged goods, clothing, mattresses, furniture, even lead or copper pipes.

* Their nest materials might block a vent, causing a fire hazard.

* They also chew on wires, which in addition to creating a fire hazard could also short-circuit electrical systems, causing alarm systems and refrigerators to fail.

* Their burrowing may cause roads and railroad beds to settle, or damage the banks of irrigation canals and levees. It may also undermine foundations and slabs.

* Rats bite and terrify some people. They transmit several diseases to people.

* Rats may damage crops in the field, in silos, granaries, and warehouses. They contaminate stored foods, especially grains, in commercial settings such as restaurants and warehouses and homes. Rats ruin a large amount of the world's food supply.

* They'll raid bird feeders and pet dishes.

* Their noise and smell may drive you and your pets to distraction.

* They foul items in museums and libraries.

* Disease risks: The diseases that rats are more likely to transmit to people or livestock include murine typhus, leptospirosis, trichinosis, salmonellosis (food poisoning), and rat-bite fever. Bubonic plague is more closely associated with roof rats (Rattus rattus) than it is with Norway rats. Rats are often infested with lice, fleas, and mites that transmit other diseases.

Best Practices

It's critical to consider how well rats climb, jump, and swim when planning your control strategy. If you had the physical abilities of a rat, you might be an Olympic athlete. Here's what a Norway rat can do:

* Climb up: Brick buildings (or any building with a rough exterior), wires, conduit, pipes (inside and outside!), vines, shrubs, trees. Rats can climb inside a pipe that's 1 1/2-4 inches in diameter, or along the outside of any pipe that's within 3 inches of a wall or other support. Otherwise, rats can climb up an exterior pipe that's up to 3 inches in diameter (and if the surface is rough, they can climb up an even larger pipe).

* Run along: Telephone wires, power lines, pipes, conduit, and tree branches.

* An adult rat can squeeze through a hole that's about 3/4 inch wide. A young rat can squeeze through a 1/2-inch hole.

* Jump vertically about 3 feet and horizontally 4-8 feet, depending on whether they start on a flat or elevated surface. If people could match that, they'd be jumping about 18 feet up or 24-48 feet out, without poles or a running start.

* Stretch up about a foot on a smooth wall.

* Swim up to a half-mile in open water, underwater for about a half-minute; against strong currents; and up through toilet traps (water seals). Rats can tread water for up to 3 days.

* Burrow 4 feet into the soil.

* Fall from a height of 50 feet without serious injury.

* Gnaw through lead and aluminum sheets, cinder block, plastic, and other materials.

The best way to deal with a rat infestation is to clean up, get rid of the rats, and keep them from finding a way back in. Keep three words in mind: sanitation, eviction, exile.

Remove artificial food sources (garbage, compost, bird seed, pet food):

* Garbage is usually the main food source for rats in urban areas. Ideally, garbage would be removed daily, before dusk. This often isn't possible, so make sure that garbage is kept in secure containers.

* Clean garbage cans, dumpsters, and chutes regularly, at least once a week.

* Screen the drainage holes in dumpsters with quarter-inch hardware cloth.

* Steel garbage cans are a better choice than plastic, which the rats may chew through.

* If rats, raccoons, or dogs tip over the garbage cans, either use a spring-loaded fastener or bungee cord to keep the lids on, or put the garbage cans on a platform that's 18 inches above the ground and 3 feet away from buildings.

* At a dump, cover the garbage with soil every day. Store food, bird seed, pet food, garbage, compost, and recyclables in metal, glass, or ceramic containers with tight-fitting lids.

* Near buildings, rake up and dispose of fruits and nuts that fall from trees. It's not a bad idea to wrap these trees with sheet metal, so the rats can't climb up and feed in them. Prune low-hanging branches, too.

* Put unfinished pet food in the refrigerator.

* Store large bags of flour, grain, pet food, or livestock feed on open-wire shelves. Bottom shelf should be at least 18 inches off the ground.

* Especially in kitchens and food storage areas, elevate equipment (mixers, stoves, refrigerators) so you can clean underneath it easily. If you can't elevate it, then close it off so the rats can't get underneath the equipment.

* Elevate compost heaps or enclose with half-inch hardware cloth or welded wire mesh.

* Keep livestock feeding areas and feed storage areas as secure as possible.

* Remove dog, cat, and horse feces daily; rats will eat them.

* Keep the area around and underneath bird feeders clean, especially of spilled seed. Use baffles to keep rats (and squirrels) out of feeders.

Remove their nesting sites:

* Keep stored items off the floor and away from walls. In a warehouse, paint a 12-inch white band on the floor all the way around the room to make inspections easier, and to remind people to keep items away from the walls.

* Reduce clutter and remove cardboard boxes.

* Move firewood, junk piles, and garbage cans away from the house.

* Maintain a foot-wide gravel border around the foundation that's free of vegetation (best), or keep the foundation plantings well trimmed. Don't stack anything (such as firewood) against the foundation.

* Rats find shelter in dense ground covers such as ivy. Either keep it well-trimmed or replace it with a more open ground cover.

* Break up large expanses of dense ground cover with exposed pathways. Rats don't like to cross areas where they can easily be seen.

Prevent entry into building:

* Close the door! (Use screen doors.) Install mechanical door-closers in warehouses or other areas where people forget to close doors.

* Add metal kick plates (26-gauge sheet metal) to the bottoms of doors, especially those leading to warehouses and food storage areas.

* Repair every crack and hole that's more than 1/2 inch wide. Seal openings beneath and behind sinks, stoves, and dishwashers with latex caulk. Fix cracks in foundations and floors with concrete or masonry grout. Remember to check around pipes, sewer outlets, cables, stairs (inside and out), roof joints, and the areas where chimneys and fireplaces come through the floor from the cellar or crawl space. Use strong materials to repair holes, such as half-inch hardware cloth, welded-wire mesh, sheet metal plates, concrete mortar, or coarse steel wool or Stuf-Fit with expanding foam sprayed over it.

* Plug gaps around water, gas, and heating pipes, heat registers, air ducts, electrical chases, and false ceilings with latex caulk.

* For large holes around pipes, use galvanized metal pipe chase covers, sheet metal plates, mortar, plaster of Paris, or cement.

* Wrap pipes that run along exterior walls with sheet metal guards that fit closely to the wall, sticking out 12 inches from the pipe.

* Check vents (sewer, stove, clothes-dryers, roof, ridge-line, soffit, furnace, and air-conditioning ducts, attic fans). If it's damaged, replace the vent with an animal-proof design, or screen it with quarter-inch hardware cloth or welded wire. End caps on ridge vents may loosen, providing access to the attic. Soffit vents are best protected with metal louvers.

* Add guards to power lines to keep rats from traveling along them (consult with your power company first).

* Paint a foot-wide band around the perimeter of block or concrete buildings at a height of 3 feet. Use hard, glossy (slippery!) paint. This technique may also be used to make it harder for rats to climb up vertical pipes.

* Monitor structures routinely for structural cracks and openings. Places that might be overlooked, and yet are attractive to rats, include elevator shafts, laundry chutes, the compressors of refrigerators or freezers, and the insulated walls of large coolers.

* Trim branches at least 3 feet back from buildings.

* Rats can live in sewers, and may enter buildings through toilets or water pipes. A toilet can be rat-proofed by adding a one-way flap valve called a "rat guard" or by feeding the pipe from the toilet bowl into a wider pipe. Screen drains in basements and shower rooms with half-inch hardware cloth or welded wire.

* Repair broken sewer pipes.

* Add "rat wall" barriers underneath floors, around foundations and footings, or as linings for walls and ceilings. Use quarter-inch hardware cloth or welded wire. Bury it 6-12 inches deep, then bend the bottom edge outward into an L shape that sticks out one foot to prevent the rats from burrowing underneath it. Or install a concrete curtain wall.

* In double-wall construction, add a barrier between the exterior and interior wall. Nail galvanized sheet metal between the studs, joists, floor, and sill.

Rat-proofing tips for new construction:

* Fit pieces together carefully so all joints are tight. These are vulnerable areas that may warrant protection with sheet metal.

* Use concrete when building new grain storage facilities. If you need to build with wood, line the floors, walls, and ceiling with welded wire (quarter-inch mesh) or hardware cloth (19 gauge).

* Ground floors should be 11/2 feet above grade, or made of concrete, stone and mortar, or brick and mortar.

* Footings should be buried to a depth of 2 feet, and be protected by "rat walls" and "termite shields," a metal cone that's attached upside down to footings and building piers.

* Build "rat wall" barriers underneath floors, around foundations and footings, or as linings for walls and ceilings (see previous description).

* Install metal kick plates on the outside of doors, and protect door casings with sheet metal. Fasten metal thresholds to floors.

* Steel pipes embedded in concrete create a strong metal door threshold that allows the door to swing freely. This is a good option wherever heavy equipment or livestock travel through the doorway.

* Corrugated metal siding can provide many entry holes. You can butt the siding against a solid material, such as concrete or metal flashing, to seal these holes. (This may cause the metal to rust faster.)

* In double-wall construction, add a barrier between the exterior and interior wall. Fireproof stops of concrete or brick are best.

Trapping Strategies:

* The Norway rat is an exotic species, so please do not release any into the wild (Chapter Two explains why).

* Rats are often hard to trap because they avoid new objects. Place baited, unset traps for up to a week, until the rats are used to the sight of the traps. Be persistent.

* To increase your success, trap intensively for several days. More is better. A good rule-of-thumb is to place one trap for every rat. In homes with moderate to heavy infestations, use 12-24 traps. In barns or large buildings, 50-100 traps may be in order.

* Place the traps in their runways, in dark corners, along rafters, near food sources, nests, or holes--wherever the rats are most active (look for droppings and gnaw marks). You may be able to lift some ceiling tiles to place traps in a dropped ceiling.

* Set traps at night, when rats are most active, and check them in the morning.

Live traps:

* Norway rats are generally too smart to enter a live trap. Because they're an exotic species, this technique is not recommended. Lethal trapping will likely prove challenging enough! If a customer insists, use a squirrel-sized cage trap (6 x 6 x 24 inches) for adults. You may be able to capture younger rats in a chipmunk-sized cage trap (16 x 6 x 6 inches). Set live traps parallel to the wall.

Lethal traps:

* The familiar mouse trap is called a "snap trap." There are larger models for rats. Don't try to use the mouse-sized traps because they're too small. Look for some of the newer designs, such as traps that have bait covers, which are triggered when that lid is lifted; or traps with expanded "triggers" or a clothespin design (Figure B-19). The design with the bait cover is more selective, while all of these newer models are easier to set than the traditional rat trap.

* Place traps right against the wall, every 5-10 feet.

* Set snap traps in pairs. This is much more effective. Two sets that work well:

* Side-by-side, perpendicular to the wall, with the trigger snapping towards the wall

** Parallel to the wall, with the triggers snapping to the outside (not into the center)

** Traps may be attached to rafters with nails, or to pipes with wire or Velcro strips.

* Bait with bacon, hot dog, liver, peanut butter, or nut meats. You can sprinkle oatmeal around the trap to make it even more attractive. You may want to put the bait on the bottom of the trigger, which increases the chance that the rats will spring the trap.

[FIGURE B-19 OMITTED]

* To protect young children and pets, place traps in bait stations, a cage trap with 1 by 2 inch mesh, a coffee can with both ends cut out, or in PVC pipe (remember to test that the trap will spring within its container). Or use a commercial tunnel trap. Alternatively, keep your pets locked in a safe room at night and don't release them until you've sprung all of the traps.

* Body-gripping trap, #55. Use a one-way trigger to increase the selectivity of the trap.

* The use of glue boards, which the authors do not consider a best practice, may be warranted in the case of a severe infestation. A glue board is a layer of long-lasting adhesive spread over a surface, usually cardboard or plastic. The rats get stuck in the adhesive (glue boards are used to capture mice, rats, and snakes). Although some call the glue board a live trap, it's not often used that way. In fact, some biologists believe that you cannot remove the animal from the trap unharmed because the oil that is used to loosen the glue may harm the animal. In practice, rats are frequently left to die on glue boards. Snap traps are often as effective as glue boards and are more humane, although setting them does take more effort. If using glue boards, set them in protected areas, such as within a dropped ceiling. Check them frequently (at least every 12 hours) and kill any captured rats by stunning them. Do not leave dead rats to rot on glue boards because the carcasses will stink and likely attract other pests.

Other lethal techniques, for WCOs with a commercial pesticide applicator license:

* Poisons (in various forms, such as baits, fumigants, and tracking powder) can be effective and may be warranted in some situations. Rodenticides can be hazardous to children, pets, and animals that eat poisoned rats. The rats may die in walls and stink, while providing a breeding place for flies. Trapping is often a better solution.

* Rats are generally cautious when approaching a new food, including poison baits. They sample just a bit at first, and it takes several days for them to overcome their fear. Nor is any bait a universal favorite. Young rats may imitate their mother's food preferences, so if their mother avoids poison baits, the young may, too. This can lead to bait shyness in large populations of rats. This is why testing various baits and pre-baiting with nontoxic baits is so helpful in controlling rats.

Preferred Killing Methods

* Lethal traps

* C[O.sub.2] chamber

* Shooting, using an air rifle or .22 caliber rifle

Acceptable Killing Methods

* Stunning and chest compression

* Pesticides (with the proper license)

Control Strategies that Don't Work Well

* Ultrasonic and electromagnetic devices don't work against rats. Loud or unusual noises will frighten them and may drive them off for a short time.

* Mothballs and ammonia don't do much, and may not be registered.

* Cats may kill some rats, but the rats may also kill the cat, especially if it's vastly outnumbered. Other predators that kill rats include snakes, owls, dogs, coyotes, and birds of prey. They'll help to reduce rat populations but shouldn't be relied on as the sole source of control.

* Glue boards can capture rats but they may cause other pest infestations if used improperly. There are more humane options that are effective.

SKUNKS

Species' Names

* Striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis)

* Spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius)

The striped skunk is more common, especially in urban and suburban settings. The far less common spotted skunk may be identified by a break in the white stripes running along its back. Skunks have a wide variation in coat color, ranging from almost completely black to almost entirely white.

Size

Striped skunk is 20-30 inches long, including 10-to 15-inch tail. They weigh 6-12 pounds. Spotted skunks are somewhat smaller.

Signs of Their Presence

* Visual sighting of animal.

* Sounds: Adults are generally quiet, although you'll hear them stamp their feet. Young skunks are more vocal, especially when playing. You may hear teeth clicking, hissing, grunts, growls, purrs, squeals, and shrill screeches.

* Odor is nauseating, penetrating, acrid musk. Tracks: Small relative to body size, 5 toes on all feet, smooth continuous palm pads, long front nails (Figures B-20 and B-21).

* Scat: Includes mostly insect body parts, some fur, and seeds. (May be slightly curved, not shown in Figure B-22.)

* Evidence of their feeding: Funnel-shaped holes in lawns, 3-4 inches in diameter, where skunks dig

[FIGURE B-20 OMITTED]

[FIGURE B-21 OMITTED]

[FIGURE B-22 OMITTED]

Diet

Opportunist. Their diet changes seasonally. Skunks eat primarily insects (including ground bees and wasps), as well as earthworms, snakes, mice, moles, fruit, nuts, fish, amphibians, crustaceans, birds, the eggs of birds and turtles, poultry, garbage, pet food, and carrion. They're particularly fond of grubs and occasionally raid vegetable gardens.

Typical Activity Patterns

Social style: Generally solitary, except for females with dependent young, and when in winter dens.

Daily activity: Nocturnal. During the summer, may see daytime activity, as females forage with their young. May bed down during the summer in open sites away from the den.

Hibernator? Skunks sleep deeply for up to 31-2 months at a time, but are not true hibernators. They'll emerge periodically during warm spells and during the mating season. Skunks den alone, or in a group of 2-7 females and 1 male. They may lose up to 38% of their body weight during the winter.

Migrates? No.

Where Found

Distribution: Common throughout the East. Can reach densities of 50 skunks/square mile in suburban areas.

Habitat: Widespread, from coastal habitats to mature woodlands and small woodlots. Prefers open fields, lawns, and agricultural areas with areas of mixed shrubs and forest edges, near buildings, barns, or porches.

Territory and home range: Skunks rarely travel more than one mile from their den except during the breeding season.

Breeding Habits

Pair bonding style: Polygamous. Females raise young alone. (Male skunks will kill their young.)

Breeding dates: Late February through March. Gestation takes about 62-75 days.

Birthing period: May through early June.

Litter size: 2-10, often 4-7.

Weaning dates: At 2 months old.

Amount of time young remain with parents beyond weaning date: Kits forage with their mother when they're 7 weeks old. They're independent at 3 months, and disperse in the fall.

Common Nuisance Situations

Time of year: Calls peak in February and March, when they're mating. In May and June, calls are usually related to their grubbing in lawns. This picks up again in late July, continuing through mid-October. Also during that period, you may get calls about "rabid" skunks that are active during the daytime (see explanation in "Debunking myths about skunks").

What are they doing?

* Seeking a sheltered place in which to raise their young. They may den under porches, decks, foundations, garages, barns, or sheds.

* Stinking up the place. Skunks can be very smelly, especially from the mating season through the whelping season, if the female fights off a male. If the smell seems to come and go and is more noticeable at dawn or dusk or with a shift in wind direction, or if the smell seems to be coming from an area with evergreen trees, it might be the odor of a great horned owl. These owls commonly eat skunks.

* Defending themselves. Skunks are a mild-mannered, slow-moving, mind-your-own-business kind of animal. If provoked, they may spray people or pets. Their spray can reach up to 16 feet. Skunks can spray once they're 2-4 weeks old. They can spray up to six times in a row, but would then need a day to "recharge."

* They'll fall into window wells while searching for insects and toads, and then become trapped.

* Skunks dig in lawns for grubs. They'll sometimes scratch beehives in search of honey and insects, or raid poultry houses for eggs and chickens (but that's rare, and such damage is more likely the work of a raccoon). Disease risks: Rabies (they are a rabies vector species in our region), distemper.

Debunking Myths about Skunks

* A skunk that's active during the day isn't necessarily rabid. It may be a healthy female that's feeding more often than usual, because of the demands of her young.

* Adult skunks are not trigger-happy but "teenaged" skunks may be. Very young skunks squirt small amounts of fluid as they walk because they're not yet mature enough to have control of the "spray muscles." You can usually tell if an adult skunk intends to spray (described later).

* Grubbing by skunks is sometimes blamed on other animals because there's no skunk smell. Skunks spray in defense.

Best Practices

When dealing with skunks, a new factor enters into the choice of capture, transport, and dispatch--how to keep the skunk from spraying. WCOs who have handled skunks successfully for decades advise those less experienced with handling skunks to relax. Move slowly and quietly, and don't wave your arms around. Be patient and gentle. Learn their habits and use those to your advantage.

For example, skunks like to see their targets. If they can't see, they're not likely to spray. So, if you use a plastic box trap or cover the sides of a cage trap, you'll reduce the risk of being sprayed. For a more securely covered cage trap, attach quarter-inch plywood to the sides and top. Leave room to reach the trigger release and the carrying handle.

Some WCOs have found that it's better to work with a covered trap than to cover the trap after you've caught the skunk. You may want to create a partially covered wire trap to use during hot weather, when the plastic traps could cause the skunk to overheat and die.

Here are some tips for capturing a skunk that's indoors. Set up a covered trap, and then slowly and quietly approach the skunk from behind. Guide the skunk toward the trap by gently pushing it with a broom or occasionally squirting it with water from a spray bottle.

Another option for nervous skunk handlers: don't do it! You are not required to handle all nuisance species. Some WCOs specialize in one, or perhaps a few species, and have successful businesses. If you've spent some time with experienced skunk handlers and still don't feel your skills are adequate, consider referring customers to someone else.

Remove food sources and shelter:

* Put trash out in the morning instead of the evening, if possible, or keep it in a protected area.

* Skunk-proof the garbage can with a tight-fitting lid, or secure the lid with straps.

* Don't leave pet food or their food bowls out at night.

* Enclose compost piles in a framed box using hardware cloth or welded wire; in a sturdy container, such as a 55-gallon drum; or in a commercial compost container.

* Treat lawns to reduce grub populations. (Biological controls are preferred. In the southern part of the region, where it's been proven to work, try Milky Spore.)

* Keep mice out of buildings. Skunks eat them, and will go inside buildings looking for rodents.

* Remove brush piles and debris.

Protect vulnerable areas and crops:

* Close garage doors at night.

* Cover window wells. There are readily available commercial window well covers that are inexpensive.

* Close basement windows at night, and keep them in good repair.

* Fence beehives or poultry areas with 1-inch chicken wire, 1 by 1 inch or 1 by 2 inch vinyl coated or galvanized welded-wire mesh, or hardware cloth (quarter-inch or half-inch mesh). If there's already an electric fence, add a wire at 5 inches off the ground, or place the hives 3 feet above ground.

Keep them from denning under buildings: If this is a preventive action, or there are no young present, you can:

* First, ensure that the skunks have left the den. Close all of the entrances to the den except the main hole. You can place a one-way door over that hole for 3-4 days to give the skunks time to leave, or use the soft plug method. Sprinkle flour, talc, or nontoxic tracking powder on the ground inside the den area near the hole, and then cover the hole with hardware cloth. Return the next day to check for tracks. Once you're sure the skunks are gone, you can permanently seal the hole.

* Screen areas under decks, porches, and houses (foundation skirt) with a "rat wall." Use 1 by 1 inch or 1 by 2 inch vinyl-coated, welded-wire mesh or hardware cloth (quarter-inch or half-inch mesh). The fence must be buried 3-6 inches deep, with the bottom edge bent outward at 90[degrees] into an L shape that sticks out 6-12 inches to prevent the skunks from burrowing underneath it. If you can't bury the fence, the 90[degrees] bend extending along the ground can be effective. This design also works for a freestanding fence. If the top isn't attached to the deck or porch, the fence should be 3 feet high.

* Skunks can squeeze through small openings in buildings. Seal any hole or crack that's 3-4 inches across with sheet metal, concrete, or hardware cloth.

If young are present, remove or evict the entire family before blocking the entrance to their den:

* For trap-and-release strategies to reduce the risk of orphaning wildlife, see Chapter Five. Capture and release the mother and young at dusk or in the evening.

* If the young are older and mobile, install a one-way door over the entry hole. They'll leave but won't be able to re-enter. Wait 3-4 days before sealing the entry permanently.

How to avoid being sprayed:

* Skunks give a warning before they spray. They turn to face the aggressor, arch their backs, raise their tails, stamp the ground, and shuffle backwards. Then, just before spraying, they bend into a "U" shape, so both their head and tail faces the target. Should you see any of these signals, back away slowly and quietly, and don't wave your arms around.

* Take precautions before letting dogs out at night, or keep them on leashes and maintain control.

And how to get rid of that lovely "eau de skunk":

* First, ventilate the area.

* A mix of equal parts of tomato juice and vinegar will clean a dog, but most people don't realize that you'd have to soak your pet for an hour--and then wash with soap.

Here's an easier recipe, developed by chemist Dr. Paul Krebaum:

1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide

1/4 cup baking soda

1 teaspoon liquid soap

Mix the ingredients together and immediately wash your pet (or soak your clothing) while the solution is bubbling. Rinse. Don't try to bottle this mix because it generates a lot of oxygen and could explode.

* To clean clothing or objects, two household products will work: ammonia or bleach (oxygen or chlorine bleach). You must choose one or the other. Don't mix them because together they form toxic fumes. So, either pour a little ammonia into the water, or a little bleach into the water. Soak the clothes for several hours, then wash as usual. You may have to wash the clothes a few times, and there may be some discoloration. You could also try Dr. Krebaum's recipe, listed above.

* There are many commercial deodorizers that can neutralize or mask the odor. For information, see the publication "Removing Skunk Odor" (http:// www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/live/nf646/build/ nf646.pdf ).

Trapping Strategies

Live traps:

* Cage trap should be 9 x 9 x 24 inches for a single-door model, longer for a double-door model.

* Bait with commercial fruit-based bait or peanut butter.

* The skunk will be calmer if it enters a dark space. Use a plastic box trap, except during hot weather, or cover the sides of a cage trap with boards.

* Foothold trap, #1 or #1 1/2 (double-jawed traps preferred, but can also use standard jaw or laminated traps), or the Lil' Grizz Get'rz, Duffer, or EGG foot encapsulating traps designed for raccoons.

* How to get a skunk out of a window well: Skunks are poor climbers. Many people will suggest placing a board in the well to allow the skunk to climb out on its own, but this will work only if the window well is large enough so the board can be placed at a shallow angle of less than 45[degrees] (if you try this, give the skunk some traction by nailing a few boards or some cleats across the board). Unfortunately, most window wells are too small for this technique. Instead, try restraining the skunk with a Cat Grasper (akin to a catchpole) and then lifting it out, or place a small cage trap or small cardboard box in the well and guide the skunk into it using a long stick. Work calmly and you should be able to remove the skunk without being sprayed.

Lethal traps:

* Body-gripping trap, #120, #160, or #220, preferably in a restricted opening set that reduces the risk to dogs and cats (vertical cubby, bucket with restricted opening, or a deep-notch box set). The skunk will likely spray. See Chapter Five for details about these sets, and other tips, such as the use of a one-way trigger, that reduce the risk of capturing an unintended animal.

* Modify the trigger to help ensure a top-to-bottom strike (which is more humane) and to prevent the skunk from refusing to enter the trap. Skunks don't like to have anything brush against their eyes or whiskers, so separate the trigger and center it on the top or bottom of the trap. Proper positioning helps to ensure a cleaner, more humane catch.

Preferred Killing Methods

* The skunk will probably spray, so be prepared

* C[O.sub.2] chamber (let the animal settle down before turning on the gas, and use a lower flow rate to avoid frightening the animal)

* Lethal trap

* Lethal injection of barbiturate, if possible Shooting, using a shotgun with #6 shot or a .22 caliber rifle (Target the heart/lungs. The skunk will almost certainly spray if you use a head shot.)

Acceptable Killing Methods

* Stunning followed by chest compression (with care, to avoid rabies exposure). The skunk will probably spray, so be prepared.

A Killing Method that's Under Debate

Some people inject acetone into skunks to kill them. Is it a best practice? This method looks good from the outside. The skunk seems to "just go to sleep," falling over quietly before it dies. There aren't any signs of struggle, discomfort, or pain and the skunk rarely sprays.

Unfortunately, there's no scientific data to adequately explain how acetone injections kill skunks. You'll hear opinions both for and against this method. If acetone is as bad as some people believe, then why don't the skunks spray? And even if it is traumatic, if it reliably kills skunks as quickly as some people report, could it still qualify as a best practice? We prefer facts--and although we tried hard, we didn't get satisfactory answers. So for now, we can't condone this method.

Why not trust your eyes? Like wildlife biologists, successful WCOs are careful observers of wildlife behavior. In fact, to use the best practices method, you must make decisions based on what you see, smell, and hear. Consider the drug succinylcholine hydrochloride, which was once used to immobilize animals. This drug paralyzes muscles, so the animal would be quiet and unable to move--but it would also be fully alert and able to feel pain. How do we know that? Some people volunteered to take the drug so they could describe the experience, which they said was painful and frightening. This drug is no longer recommended for immobilizing wildlife.

Kind? Cruel? You may not be able to tell just by watching. We recommend you choose a method that is well understood and has been properly studied.

Control Methods that Don't Work Well

* Mothballs aren't registered for this use, and could be dangerous to people if used in the quantity that would be needed.

* Other repellents haven't worked against skunks.

* There are no toxicants registered by EPA for skunk control.

TREE SQUIRRELS

Species' Names

* Gray squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis

* Red squirrel, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus

* Fox squirrel, Sciurus niger

* Northern flying squirrel, Glaucomys sabrinus

* Southern flying squirrel, Glaucomys volans

Size

Gray: 18-20 inches long; tail half that length; 1-1 1/2 pounds

Red: 12 inches long, same with the tail; about 5 1/2 ounces

Fox squirrel: 21 inches long, includes 9 1/2 inch tail; nearly 2 pounds Northern flying: 10-11 inches, including 4 1/2 inch tail; 3-4 ounces

Southern flying: 9-10 inches, including 3 1/2 inch tail; 1 1/2-2 1/2 ounces

Signs of Their Presence

* The animals themselves. Don't be surprised if people report seeing black or white squirrels. They're really gray squirrels--just a color variation.

* Sounds: Red squirrels are loudest, with their sometimes birdlike, sometimes scolding, but seemingly endless chatter. Gray and fox squirrels also chatter, and during the mating season, they'll make a chucking bark as they chase each other. You may hear chewing, pattering, scampering, scratching sounds in attic, eaves, and walls from early morning throughout the day--unless the residents are flying squirrels, which are nocturnal.

* Scat: Oval, smooth, roughly 1/4 inch long. The scat of flying squirrels is often found in distinctive piles.

* Nests: Gray, fox, and flying squirrels make leaf nests, usually placed in a tree crotch, that are used summer and fall. The flying squirrel's nest is about 8 inches in diameter; those of the gray and fox squirrel are larger.

* Evidence of their feeding: Nipped twigs of spruce, hemlock, and pine trees; piles of gnawed hickory nuts and walnuts, or strips of acorn shell, between attic joists or in wall cavities (gray, fox, red, or flying); piles of pine cones, acorns, hickory nuts (red).

* Garden and crop damage: They eat flower bulbs and seeds, raid bird feeders, damage the equipment used for maple syrup collection, eat cherry blossoms and ripe pears or apples, and chew on the bark of fruit trees. They may also strip bark, which they use in their nests.

* Building damage: Holes in vents, eaves, soffits, and fascia boards. Claw marks on siding. Tunnels in insulation. Chewed wires. Damage to stored household goods from their chewing, urine, or feces.

Diet

Opportunists, primarily herbivores. The flying squirrels are the most carnivorous of the group, although all tree squirrels will eat bird eggs and nestlings. All of these tree squirrels store food for the winter. Red squirrels create one large cache, while gray and fox squirrels bury nuts singly, all over the place.

Gray and fox squirrels prefer the same foods: fall through winter, they eat fruits and nuts (especially acorns, hickory nuts, and walnuts) and bird seed, if available. In early spring they switch to tree buds, then in summer to fruits, berries, and succulent plants. They'll also eat insects; bird eggs; mushrooms; corn; garden, orchard, and field crops; and when very hungry will chew tree bark and lick the sap.

Flying squirrels tend to eat the same foods as the gray and fox squirrel, but they're more likely to eat bird eggs, nestlings, insects, and carrion.

Red squirrels prefer pine seeds and buds, but will eat many of the foods listed above. They're more carnivorous than gray and fox squirrels, but not as likely to eat meat as flying squirrels.

Typical Activity Patterns

Social style: Gray and fox squirrels are somewhat sociable. Red squirrels are solitary, except for females with dependent young. Flying squirrels are social, with dozens (perhaps as many as 50) nesting together.

Daily activity: All are diurnal except for the flying squirrels, which are nocturnal.

Hibernator? No.

Migrates? Not typical, but when food supplies crash, they may migrate in large numbers.

Where Found

Distribution: Throughout the region. The fox squirrel has the most limited distribution of the group. The gray squirrel is the most common and adaptable but they're all comfortable in cities and suburbs.

Habitat: Wooded areas. Gray and fox squirrels prefer hardwood forests (fox squirrels like the forest edge); red squirrels prefer softwood forests or mixed hardwoods and conifers; flying squirrels also prefer softwood or mixed forests, but aren't as picky as red squirrels. Squirrels den in tree cavities, rock crevices, burrows, brush piles, deserted buildings, chimney flues, attics, and barns. Gray, fox, and flying squirrels also make leaf nests for use in the summer and fall. Red and flying squirrels prefer old woodpecker nest holes and hollow tree limbs.

Territory and home range: The red squirrel is strongly territorial, defending both food sources and den trees. Gray and fox squirrels are not, but may fight to establish dominance in common feeding grounds, such as around a bird feeder. Their home ranges are broadly overlapping and variable, generally about an acre. Flying squirrels are often found in large groups and are most likely not territorial.

Breeding Habits

Pair bonding style: Polygamous. Females raise young alone.

Breeding dates: Gray and fox squirrels: mid-December through January (fox squirrels mate in January). Red and northern flying squirrels: late winter. Southern flying squirrels: early spring. Gestation takes 40-45 days. Five to ten percent of older female gray squirrels may breed again in June. In more southern locales, some squirrels may breed twice during the season.

Birthing period: Gray and fox squirrels: February through March. Gray squirrels may have a "second" litter in late summer. Red and northern flying squirrels: April through May (red squirrels may continue into June). Southern flying squirrels: May through June.

Litter size: Gray squirrel: 2-4 young; fox squirrel: 2-4; red squirrel: 3-6; flying squirrels: 2-7 young.

Weaning dates: Gray squirrels begin leaving the nest at 10-12 weeks.

Amount of time young remain with parents beyond weaning date: Not long. Young female gray squirrels may stay with their mother for several months, although they won't necessarily remain near the den site.

Common Nuisance Situations

Time of year: Any time of year.

Customers calling from fall through winter (September through February) often complain about dens in attics or walls. Typically, an attic den could be home to 8-10 squirrels (red or gray squirrels) or dozens of flying squirrels (perhaps up to 50).

From March through May, most calls relate to their breeding, as females seek places to raise their young. That's when you typically find one female and her young in the attic or wall.

What are they doing?

* They den in attics, walls, sheds, barns, and chimneys, annoying people with their noise and odors. Squirrels usually gain access via overhanging branches, power lines, or by climbing up the siding. They may fall into chimney and furnace flues, thus gaining entrance to the basement or interior of the house.

* Their nest materials might block a vent, causing a fire hazard.

* They chew on and scratch wires (another fire hazard) and also damage attic vents, eaves, screens, bird feeders, siding, insulation, household goods, and the tubing used for maple syrup production.

* They run along power lines and sometimes short out transformers.

* Squirrels also eat garden, field, and orchard crops; bird seed; and newly planted vegetable seeds.

* They'll strip the bark from trees, especially fruit trees, maples, and cedar.

* Disease risks: mange, cat scratch disease, typhus, rabies (rarely).

Best Practices

Remove artificial food sources (bird seed, pet food):

* If anyone is feeding the squirrels, persuade them to stop.

* There are metal bird feeders that close once the squirrel jumps onto them, which are effective. Other feeder designs can be modified to make them more squirrel-proof. Place a stovepipe baffle (min. length 2 1/2 feet) or an inverted cone on the pole, at least four feet off the ground.

* Keep the area underneath the feeder clean.

* Enclose compost piles in a framed box using hardware cloth or welded wire; in a sturdy container, such as a 55-gallon drum; or in a commercial compost container.

* Feed pets indoors.

* Just so you know (and for those WCOs with commercial pesticide applicator licenses)--there are brands of sunflower seed and suet that are treated with a repellent. The active ingredient is capsaicin, the chemical that makes hot peppers taste hot.

Protect vulnerable crops:

* Plant bulbs within a cylinder of 1-inch poultry wire. Lay the wire in a trench, then plant the bulbs in it. Add some dirt, finish wrapping the wire around the bulbs, then cover with soil.

* Another option for bulbs is to plant them and then lay a piece of half-inch hardware cloth over the soil surface to reduce the squirrels' ability to dig up the bulbs. The hardware cloth should extend at least a foot around the plantings, and be covered with soil. Its mesh must be large enough for the stems to grow through, so you may need to experiment with different sizes for different plants.

* Establish a barrier around gardens and fields with fences (wire mesh, electric, or combination wire/ electric fence). Use half-inch hardware cloth or welded wire. The fence must be 30 inches high, buried 6-12 inches deep, with a foot-wide L-shaped shelf that sticks out to prevent the squirrels from burrowing underneath it. Or use a 2-wire electric fence (if allowed by local ordinances) with one wire placed at 2 inches above ground, and the other at a height of 6 inches. A combination fence should have a wire at 2 inches off the ground, and along the top of the fence.

* If there aren't any mammals nesting in the tree, wrap two-foot-wide bands of sheet metal around fruit trees at 6-8 feet, to prevent squirrels from climbing the tree. This will work only if the squirrels can't leap from another tree or other object onto this tree. Attach the band loosely so the tree has room to grow. Don't staple the band onto the tree because that can prove dangerous if someone needs to cut down the tree.

* For WCOs with commercial pesticide applicator licenses: There are several repellents for use on maple sap collection equipment, lawns, gardens, outdoor furniture, and buildings. Their effectiveness is quite variable.

Prevent entry into building:

First step: Remove any current residents. Exclude them with a one-way door when the young are old enough to be mobile. (For squirrels in a chimney, see the rope trick, described in the second bullet below under "If young are present ...")

If this is a preventive action, or there are no young present, you can:

* Replace plastic attic vents with metal designs that are securely attached to the building, or screen them with half-inch hardware cloth. Attic vents are a common entry point for squirrels.

* Seal openings at the joints of siding, overhanging eaves, and where pipes and utility lines enter buildings. Plug gaps around water, gas, and heating pipes with latex caulk. For large holes around pipes, use galvanized metal pipe chase covers, sheet metal plates, mortar, plaster of Paris, or cement.

* Cover chimney flues with commercial caps, and seal any gaps in the chimney's flashing.

* Wrap 2-foot-wide bands of sheet metal around trees that are within jumping distance (10 feet) of the building (see notes above).

* Trim overhanging tree branches so they're 10 feet away from the house.

* Screen gutter pipes, downspouts, and foundation drain pipes with quarter-inch hardware cloth.

If young are present, remove the entire family before blocking the entrance to their den:

* If the young are older and mobile, install a one-way door over the entry hole. They'll leave but won't be able to re-enter. Make a squirrel excluder of 4-inch diameter plastic pipe, 18 inches long, mounted over the opening, pointing down at a 45[degrees] angle.

* If the squirrels are caught in a chimney, give them a way to climb out. Place a small weight on a rope that's 1 inch in diameter. Drop the rope down the chimney. The weight helps you drop the rope all the way down, and then keeps the rope taut so the squirrels can climb it. Once the squirrels have left, cap the chimney so they won't enter it again.

* For trap-and-release strategies to reduce the risk of orphaning wildlife, see Chapter Five. Release red, gray, and fox squirrels on-site, during the day. Flying squirrels should be released at dusk or in the evening because they are nocturnal. Locate the young by following trails made in attic insulation. Flying squirrels don't show signs of nursing, so assume young are present during the breeding season.

* A caution about relocating squirrels. All of these squirrels rely on a cache of food to survive the winter, so if you move them too far away during that time, they'll probably starve to death. Not possibly--probably. Limit relocation to times when food is readily available.

Trapping Strategies

* Set traps over the entry hole, or as close as you can.

Live traps:

* Install one-way doors, especially with the smaller squirrels, such as flying squirrels.

* Cage traps should be 6 x 6 x 24 inches. Set and bait the trap, then prop it open for 2-3 days so the squirrels will grow accustomed to feeding in it. Bait with apples, nuts, peanut butter, sunflower seeds.

* Multiple-capture cage traps are available for use with flying squirrels. Place food in the trap; this may reduce their level of stress and the risk that they'll fight.

Lethal traps:

* Body-gripping traps: many new products have been released recently, so scan the markets. Options include: #110 (and a newer, slightly smaller version based on the #110, the #50-2); #120 (and its smaller cousin, the #60-2); #55; the 5 x 5 Buckeye; 3 x 3 Eradicator; and smaller Koros traps.

* Tunnel traps (cylinder with body-gripping trap inside). Less obvious to viewers. You can place a standard body-gripping trap in a wooden box or other container for an equally discreet effect.

* Modify the trigger to help ensure a top-to-bottom strike (which is more humane) and to prevent the squirrel from refusing to enter the trap. Squirrels don't like to have anything brush against their eyes or whiskers, so separate the trigger and center it on the top or bottom of the trap. Another option is to bend the trigger into a circle; you can add a piece of thin wire or monofilament line to complete the circle, if necessary. Proper positioning helps to ensure a cleaner, more humane catch.

* Rat-sized snap traps for the smaller squirrels (flying and red squirrels). Look for models that have "covers" over the bait (see Chapter Five for details).

Other lethal techniques: In most states in our region, gray squirrels and fox squirrels are game species. Hunting may reduce the population and help alleviate some concerns.

Preferred Killing Methods

* C[O.sub.2] chamber

* Lethal trap

* Shooting, using an air rifle, a shotgun, or a .22 caliber rifle

Acceptable Killing Methods

* Stunning and cervical dislocation

* Stunning and chest compression

VOLES

Species' Names

* Meadow vole, Microtus pennsylvanicus

* Pine vole, Microtus pinetorum

* Prairie vole, Microtus ochrogaster

Size

4-7 1/2 inches long; 1/2-2 1/2 ounces. Meadow vole is larger than the pine vole. The meadow vole's tail is longer than its hind foot; the pine vole's tail is shorter than its hind foot.

Signs of Their Presence

* High vegetation, when mowed, reveals a network of small, crisscrossing tunnels, 1-2 inches wide, "roofed over" by vegetation, at the soil surface. Similar tunnels occur in mulched garden beds and tree and shrub borders. If the lawn's mowed, you will see runways, not tunnels. They also tunnel under plastic and paper mulch. Runways are particularly well displayed during winter thaws.

* Scat piles at tunnel crossroads and scattered along runways, 1/4 inch long, cylindrical (mouse scat fits same description).

* Plant cuttings, 1/4-1/2 inch long, scattered through tunnels.

* For the pine vole, a subterranean burrower, small holes mark the entryway to their burrows. Burrows are 3-4 inches below ground, or occasionally just below the soil surface; in this case, they resemble small mole tunnels. Pine voles may take over the abandoned burrows of moles or short-tailed shrews--and even make surface tunnels at times. Where pine vole infestation is heavy, the ground will have an almost "spongy" feel.

* Girdled trees and shrubs, especially seedlings and saplings up to about 15 years old. Ornamental and orchard plantings are equally at risk. Tooth marks (1/8 inch wide, 3/8 inch long) make a crosshatch pattern near the ground or snow line.

(Rabbit gnaw marks are larger and not as distinct; they clip right through branches with a clean, oblique cut.)

Diet

Green plants, roots, tubers, bark, mushrooms, and occasionally snails, insects, carrion, and each other's young. They store food for the winter (grains, tubers, bulbs, and rootstock). Pine voles generally eat roots and tubers. Like rabbits, hares, and beavers, they eat their feces to extract more nutrients from grasses and tree bark, which are difficult to digest.

Typical Activity Patterns

Social style: Generally social, especially female with young.

Daily activity: All day and night, with alternating periods of rest and feeding.

Hibernator? No. In fact, voles may even breed and bear young through the winter if snow cover is deep enough to provide sufficient insulation for their nests.

Migrates? No.

Where Found

Distribution: Abundant and widespread in rural and suburban areas throughout the region. Population densities vary wildly, often in four-year cycles. Prairie voles are found primarily in the Midwest and central United States.

Habitat: Fields and moist, grassy bottomlands, but adapt well to suburban woodlots, gardens, and ornamental plantings as well as orchards. Pine voles prefer deciduous forests, brushy areas, and orchards with dense vegetation (especially apple orchards). They are excellent swimmers and decent climbers (although the pine vole is a bit clumsy).

Territory and home range: Females are scrappy fighters and territorial toward other females; males are not territorial. Females' home ranges cover roughly 75 square yards, males' about 200 square yards. The home ranges of the males may overlap those of several females and other males as well.

Breeding Habits

Pair bonding style: Polygamous.

Breeding dates: Year-round as the weather and food permits. Gestation takes about 20-23 days.

Birthing period: Year-round as the weather and food permits.

Litter size: 3-5, average 4. May see as few as 1 or as many as 9 pups.

Weaning dates: Between 2-3 weeks of age. Females may breed within days of being weaned. Males and females are sexually mature at 45 days old.

Amount of time young remain with parents beyond weaning date: Not long!

Common Nuisance Situations

Time of year: Any time of year. The type of damage changes seasonally:

* Early spring (mid-April through end of May): can ruin lawns, golf courses, some perennial bulbs (especially tulips and irises), newly planted vegetables (peas, beans), and some ornamental shrubs.

* Spring and summer: they damage hay, leafy vegetables, and legumes (beans and peas).

* Summer and fall: voles eat root crops (carrots, beets, potatoes, as well as kohlrabi).

* Fall (September through November): they damage lawns, golf courses, fruit trees, and some perennial bulbs.

* Fall and winter: they will girdle trees and shrubs (especially fruit trees and some ornamental shrubs). Pine voles will girdle the roots of many trees and shrubs during this period.

Look for damage up to the level of the deepest snow cover.

What are they doing?

* Burrow through and damage lawns and golf course turf.

* Girdle some fruit trees and ornamental shrubs.

* Eat flower bulbs, especially tulips and irises.

* Eat some vegetables in gardens and farms, especially legumes (peas, beans) and root crops (carrots, beets, potatoes).

* Eat hay crops. A population of 100 voles per acre may reduce the crop by a half-ton over the course of a season.

* Disease risks: minimal because of their infrequent contact with people, but voles can carry tularemia and hantavirus.

Debunking Myths about Voles

Voles are often confused for moles. Here's how to tell them apart:
Voles have:                      Moles have:

Small eyes                       Very small eyes

Small, but definitely            No external ears
noticeable ears

Furry noses                      A naked, pointy snout

Small, mouse-like feet           Large front feet that are
                                 turned sideways, and big
                                 claws (excellent shovels)


Best Practices

If your strategy includes lethal control, plan to reduce vole populations before the first winter snow.

Protect ornamental plantings and lawns:

* Mow closely under and around ornamental trees and shrubs; remove vegetation and pruned branches.

* Pull mulch away from the bases of trees.

* Make vole guards for trees. The guards must be large enough to allow 5 years of growth. Circle the tree with quarter-inch hardware cloth that's buried 3-6 inches deep. The tree guards should be taller than the anticipated snow depth by about 3-4 inches.

* Mow lawns regularly.

Protect garden crops:

* Remove vegetation, ground covers, and brush piles or other plant litter near crops.

* Tilling before planting annual crops destroys tunnels and removes cover.

* Small areas may be fenced with quarter-inch mesh hardware cloth that's buried 3-6 inches deep.

Protect orchard crops:

* Follow recommendations for ornamental plantings.

* Consider the relative economic and environmental value of tilling or close mowing between rows and applying herbicide in rows to reduce cover. Rotary mowers cut closer than sickle bar mowers.

* Mow adjacent strips and drainage ditches; work to reduce vole populations in older orchard blocks (where trees are too big to be vulnerable) that border younger blocks. Clean up windfall apples.

* Trap intensively over a 5-day period. Trapping can reduce vole populations by 90%.

* Encourage predators. Voles provide 85% of a hawk's or owl's diet. All the other carnivores--foxes, skunks, weasels, coyotes--rely on them, too. However, voles are so prolific that predators alone won't usually provide effective control.

For WCOs with a commercial pesticide applicator license:

* Repellents may give short-term protection against meadow voles (they don't do much against pine voles). There are thiram and capsaicin-based repellents.

* Toxicants (zinc phosphide) will work, and may make economic sense in some situations. Some states also have chlorophacinone registered for field use in orchards, nurseries, and vineyards.

Trapping Strategies

To increase your success, trap intensively for several days. More is better.

Live traps:

* Set cage traps in their runways. Bait with apple chunks.

* Place larger multiple-capture traps (Ketch-All) in the runways with the door facing the runway. For meadow voles, use a larger multiple capture trap such as the Ketch-All or a 3 x 3 x 8 inch Sherman trap. Traps set above ground can be effective for meadow voles, but successful trapping of pine voles almost always requires that traps be placed underground, perpendicular to the runway systems. Cover the traps with a board or roofing shingle.

Lethal traps:

* The familiar mouse trap is called a "snap trap." Look for ones with an expanded "trigger" (properly, it would be called the "pan" but you're more likely to hear it referred to as a "trigger") or a clothespin design, because they're easier to set.

* For pine voles, use the mouse-sized snap trap: preferably, a design such as the Victor Quick-Kill trap, which has a lid over the bait cover. Only animals that are motivated to seek the bait will lift the lid. This means that an animal can accidentally step on the lid without triggering the trap. The trap will not fire if it's picked up. In addition to being more selective than the traditional mouse trap, this design is also more effective, because the location of the bait cup positions the mole in the perfect strike position.

* For the larger meadow vole, you may want to switch to a larger trap.

* Place traps in the runways, spaced every 15-20 feet. Cover the trap with a bent shingle "roof."

* Set snap traps in pairs. This is much more effective. Place them side-by-side, perpendicular to the runway, with the trigger snapping into the runway.

* Bait with apple chunks.

* To protect young children, place traps in a cage with 1-inch mesh, a bait station, a coffee can with both ends cut out, or in PVC pipe (remember to test that the trap will spring within its container).

* Wildlife rehabilitators may appreciate donations of voles, which are used to feed some snakes, birds of prey, and other animals. Be sure that no poisons have been used during previous control efforts. You can double-bag the voles and freeze them.

Preferred Killing Methods

* Lethal trap

* C[O.sub.2] chamber

* Cervical dislocation

Acceptable Killing Methods

* Pesticides, in appropriate settings (often not recommended for urban or suburban areas)

Control Strategies that Don't Work Particularly Well

* Ultrasonic devices don't work.

* Repellents don't work well against pine voles.

WOODCHUCK or GROUNDHOG (Marmota monax)

Size

20-27 inches long, excluding tail; 5-12 pounds

Signs of Their Presence

* Adults often seen basking in the sun, in a grassy area, on a fence post, stone wall, large rock, or fallen log--always near its burrow.

* Sounds: Occasional sharp whistles and low churrs, given at times of danger.

* Odor is distinctive. Will often see flies around an active burrow.

* Scat: Rarely seen (woodchucks excavate a privy off their main burrow).

* Evidence of their feeding: Chewed wood. Chewing on fresh plants similar to that of rabbits; difficult to identify as woodchuck's without supporting evidence.

* Dens: Will see a large mound of dirt and stones by the main entrance to their burrow; the secondary entrances, which were dug from the inside, generally don't have a dirt mound by their opening. Well-worn trail from entrance to entrance, or to the garden.

Diet

Herbivore. Woodchucks eat succulent grasses, weeds, clover, fruits (apples, cherries, pears), berries, field and garden crops (cabbage, lettuce, beans, peas, carrots, alfalfa, soybeans), and ornamental plants (they love phlox). They'll climb trees to take fruits such as cherries, apples, and pears.

Typical Activity Patterns

Social style: Generally solitary.

Daily activity: Diurnal, most active in the early morning and evening. They rely on dew as their water source. Woodchucks have good eyesight and are good swimmers. They'll climb trees up to a height of about 20 feet, although more usually they keep to 8-12 feet.

Hibernator? Yes. Hibernates deeply from the time of the first heavy frost through early spring. Occasionally hibernates in small groups.

Migrates? No.

Where Found

Distribution: Throughout the region.

Habitat: Meadows, woodlots, hay fields, pastures, hedgerows, idle fields, parks, suburbs. Dens usually found in open fields; near fence rows or woodland edges; under barns, sheds, porches, decks, stone walls, and wood piles.

Territory and home range: Territorial. Woodchucks may skirmish to establish dominance. Subordinate woodchucks avoid dominant ones. Home ranges overlap and are usually small. Woodchucks rarely travel more than 50 yards from their den, even to feed. Their burrows can be 2-5 feet deep and as much as 60 feet long. There are usually 2 or 3 (but perhaps as many as 5) entrances, possibly including a well-hidden, straight-down "plunge hole."

Breeding Habits

Pair bonding style: Polygamous. Females raise young alone.

Breeding dates: Late February through March.

Birthing period: Late March to early May. Gestation takes about 31 days.

Litter size: 3-4.

Weaning dates: at 5-6 weeks.

Amount of time young remain with parents beyond weaning date: Young stray from burrow alone at 6-7 weeks, mid-June to early July. Mother drives young from her burrow by July.

Common Nuisance Situations

Time of year: Calls peak in July and August, although their damage may begin in spring and last into the fall.

What are they doing?

* Feeding, or just filing down their front teeth, which never stop growing. Woodchucks raid gardens, fields, lawns, orchards, and nurseries, and may gnaw or claw on shrubs and fruit trees. Occasionally chew on outdoor furniture, decks, and siding while scent-marking or filing their teeth.

* Marking their territories: They may strip off the bark at the base of a tree that's near their burrow entrance.

* Burrowing. Look for burrow entrances among shrubs near vegetable and ornamental gardens; under woodpiles, brush piles, and stone walls; under sheds, porches, decks, and crawl spaces. Burrows in fields may damage agricultural equipment, while those in pastures may trip livestock, resulting in injuries.

* Disease risks: Low. Mange, rabies (rarely), raccoon roundworm.

Best Practices

Year-old woodchucks will search for and occupy abandoned burrows. You can try filling in the entrances, but woodchucks may re-open the holes. Burrows systems are difficult to excavate, so there are often younger woodchucks looking for empty burrows. After lethal control, burrows may be reoccupied in 2-3 weeks, on average.

Remove artificial food sources and shelter:

* Remove brush piles and debris, and keep areas well-trimmed.

Protect vulnerable crops:

* Woodchucks are excellent climbers and diggers.

They can climb trees and may be found 20 feet up in a fruit tree. For this reason, use a combination woven-wire and electric fencing. Erect a "rat wall" fence around gardens and fields. Use 2 by 4 inch welded wire that's 2 feet high, buried 1 foot deep; if you prefer, you can bury it only 1-2 inches down, if you bend the edge outward into an L shape that sticks out at a 90[degrees] angle to prevent the woodchucks from burrowing underneath it. Also bend the top 15 inches of the fence out at a 45[degrees] angle to keep them from climbing over it, or add an electric wire strung 4-5 inches above ground level, and 4-5 inches from the outside of the fence.

Keep them from creating dens under buildings:

First step: Remove any current residents. Exclude them with a one-way door when young are old enough to be mobile.

If this is a preventive action, or there are no young present, you can:

* Screen areas under decks, porches, and houses with the rat wall fence, as described above. Attach the top of the fence to the structure.

If young are present, remove the entire family before blocking the entrance to their den:

* If the young are older and mobile, install a one-way door over the entry hole. They'll leave but won't be able to re-enter.

* For trap-and-release strategies to reduce the risk of orphaning wildlife, see Chapter Five. Cover cages during transport to minimize stress. Release them on-site, preferably in the morning. Use a larger box with a 7-inch hole. (One WCO recommends a 2 x 2 x 1 foot box.)

Trapping Strategies Live traps:

* Cage trap should be at least 10 x 10 x 24 inches. Double-door traps should be at least 10 x 10 x 30 inches.

* Conceal the trap, using grass or canvas.

* Choose the size of trap based on the size of the burrow's hole, but realize that woodchucks can destroy a small or lightweight trap.

* Foothold traps, #1 or #1 1/2.

* Bait with apples, cantaloupe, cabbage, carrots with their green tops, fresh peas, or lettuce. Woodchucks may ignore the bait if food is plentiful. Use a cage trap that's already held a woodchuck, because the scent will attract other woodchucks, especially males.

* Check traps twice daily, and provide shade and protection from weather. Woodchucks overheat easily.

* Clean brush away from the opening of the trap so it won't interfere with the door.

* You can also set trap without bait, placing it directly in front of the hole. Dig down a bit and use fencing to guide the woodchuck into the trap.

Lethal traps:

* Spring is the best time for control, when the adults are active but before the young are born. It's also easier to see the burrows then, and other animals are less likely to be inside. Woodchuck burrows provide shelter to several species.

* Body-gripping traps, #160, #220, #120, or a 5 x 5 Buckeye, placed at the entrance to the burrow. To reduce the risk of catching pets or unintended wildlife, cover the hole and the trap with a weighted box or hardware cloth. Another option is to add a one-way trigger to the trap, so it fires only when the woodchuck is leaving its burrow. See Chapter Five for details.

Modify the trigger to help ensure a top-to-bottom strike (which is more humane) and to prevent the woodchuck from refusing to enter the trap. Woodchucks don't like to have anything brush against their eyes or whiskers, so separate the trigger and center it on the bottom of the trap. Proper positioning helps to ensure a cleaner, more humane catch.

Other lethal techniques:

* For WCOs with commercial pesticide applicator licenses: Aluminum phosphide gas, a restricted-use pesticide, may be used to kill woodchucks in their burrows. The gas is extremely toxic and must be used carefully, but it doesn't pose a fire hazard.

* Carbon monoxide gas cartridges, a registered product, may be used to kill woodchucks in their burrows. These gas cartridges do pose a fire hazard so don't use them near buildings, under sheds, or near stumps. They could ignite grass, buildings, gasoline, and other flammable objects.

Preferred Killing Methods

* C[O.sub.2] chamber

* Lethal trap

* Shooting, using a shotgun, a .22 caliber rifle, or a centerfire rifle where safe (target the head, if no rabies testing is needed, or the heart/lungs)

* Lethal injection of barbiturate, if possible

Acceptable Killing Methods

* Stunning and chest compression

* Pesticides (carbon monoxide fumigants) for WCOs with a commercial pesticide applicator license

Methods that Don't Work Well

* There aren't any registered repellents for woodchucks.

* Commercial deer and rabbit repellents, as well as some pesticides thought to repel woodchucks, weren't that effective at keeping them away from crops.
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Title Annotation:Part 2: MAMMALS: MOLES-WOODCHUCK or GROUNDHOG
Author:Curtis, Paul D.; Shultz, Jill
Publication:Best Practices for Wildlife Control Operators
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2008
Words:18284
Previous Article:Appendix B Control tips for species that commonly cause nuisances.
Next Article:Appendix B Control tips for species that commonly cause nuisances.
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