Doc sez “It’s alien invasion time of year”.

So, out at the old (old, old) Doc homestead, Doc and Mrs. Doc are beginning to feel that they are not alone. The household, consisting of Doc, Mrs., 4 dogs (of various varieties) and one cat (more on him later) is hearing spooky sounds and even seeing the occasional spooky sight. Yes, once again the “aliens” are moving into the house and outbuildings, disguised as mice and rats. The cat (remember I said we would come back to him?) points out that the suspected location of sounds and sights is INSIDE of the house and reminds the Doc family that his contract clearly indicates he is only responsible for OUTSIDE mice and rats… and he hasn’t been outside in quite a while, so this is obviously not his job. Within the herd of dogs there is one terrier (you all remember Cutest Dog In The World, don’t you?) who finds mice and rats completely enchanting and will bustle around, nose to the ground, pointing out suspected hideouts. This terrier is also, regrettable, quite a chowhound and therein lies our tale.

When mice and rats are inside of human habitations, there is the probability of fecal contamination and damage from chewing and the possibility of disease exposure to humans, for example Hanta virus. It is imperative that the invasion be stopped quickly but also safely, so humans don’t have broken toes from traps and dogs are not exposed to poison baits. At one time, the Doc household thought that they had ideal methods and recommendations regarding traps (yikes! don’t use ‘em. Unsanitary and the cause of many pinched fingers or broken toes on humans and animals both.) and baits (use bait boxes in locations where your pets cannot go). Those suggestions are ok as far as they go, but recent experience has added a couple of thoughts. Bait boxes are not impervious to a motivated dog. Baits smell great to rats, mice and dogs so baits must be placed in locations that are absolutely out of reach of pets and children. A complicating factor is regardless of where you place the bait trap, packrats may steal the bait and move it to other locations, so be aware that even with the greatest of care, bait can be found by your pet. When you place bait, take a photo of the product label or box. When you bring a sick pet to the veterinary office often one of the questions asked will be “Do you have mouse bait out? Do your neighbors have bait out?” If the answer is yes, treatment, which was once straightforward because there was only one common type of bait, is no longer automatic. Now baits come in two varieties, the old standby anticoagulant baits and the newer neurotoxin baits. Each is treated differently, and the vet must know which was used. Showing a photo of what you put out makes finding the active ingredient and beginning treatment quicker and more effective. Time and accuracy is important to the treatment’s success.

So, back at the old homestead, the bait is out, in locations hopefully inaccessible, “Cutest Dog” is being carefully monitored to try to limit her eating impulses to good dog food and yummy dog treats, the box of bait has been photographed and any extra is stored in a tight metal tin stored on a high shelf in a closed cupboard, and everyone’s ears are pricked up, listening to the blissful sound of silence. For now, the invasion of the aliens has been brought to a standstill…for now.

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