Seeing animals frolicking in their natural habitat is one of the things guaranteed to put a smile on anybody’s face. Whether it’s otters fishing for their dinner by a Derbyshire stream, hedgehogs preparing a winter nest in the depths of a forest, or the red deer startled by the headlights of an oncoming truck, most people agree that the wildlife of Britain is an asset to be treasured.
Most people also agree that wildlife should remain outside your house. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Attracted by warmth, food, and possibly an unconscious need to be loved, outdoor animals are increasingly making their way into urban homes. In these cases, wild animals cease to be adorable, and become pests.
Whether you’re a tenant or a landlord, pests are a problem you need to deal with. Here’s how.
Find out what it is.
It’s tempting to grab throw down a few traps if you think you have a mouse infestation behind the skirting boards. A steady supply of dead rodents will keep your household pets happy, and the sight of their friend’s corpses skewered on iron spikes will be sure to discourage others. But what if your problem is dormice instead. They’re a protected species, and capturing even one could land you with an unlimited fine and six months in jail. Woe betide you if you actually manage to kill one.
A can of RAID will make short work of the ant’s nest under your patio, but if it’s a nest of Red Barbed Ants, they’re a protected species and you can’t touch them.
Even if the animals you’re attempting to eradicate aren’t endangered, it’s a good idea to find out what you’re up against before you take any action. Using Ambush on scorpions will just make them angry.
Make a plan
Ideally, you want the pests gone as quickly as possible. You do not want to revisit the same issue the same time next year. You need to make sure that whatever you choose works quickly and completely.
Assuming that the pests aren’t protected, you need to choose a method which is effective, humane, and utterly, utterly lethal.
If you’re fumigating, don’t just fumigate one room – because the little beasties can just run elsewhere in the property. You need to seal up the entire house, warn the neighbours, and pump in so much poison that there is zero chance of anything surviving.
Likewise, if you’re using poison for pests such as rats, and having been living under a rock for the last half century, you’ll know about warfarin resistance. If you don’t kill every single last one of them, you won’t be able to use the same treatment again.
So choose the right tools for the job, and don’t start what you can’t finish.
Prevent pests from returning
This shouldn’t need saying, but you should make your property as unattractive to pests as you possibly can. Like all living things, pests need food and shelter to survive, and if these aren’t readily available, they’ll go elsewhere.
Most (not all) pests will be coming into the property in search of food. If you’re a landlord, now’s the time to whack your tenant across the back of the head. If you’re a tenant, please whack yourself. Don’t leave food out overnight. Make sure the food in your cupboards is sealed away. Clean regularly.
In most cases, it’s that simple.
Know when it’s time to get expert help
How confident are you in your abilities? Confident enough to put poison cheese down? Confident enough to scatter mousetraps across the kitchen floor and not tread on them when you get up at 3 am for a glass of water?
How about sealing and gassing a property without killing any of your pets or neighbours?
Is that a maybe?
What about removing a nest full of angry murder-wasps from your attic without dying?
Believe it or not, there are people who make a good living from doing unpleasant messy jobs so that you don’t have to.
They’re going to be better at it than you are. They’re going to be safer than you are. And in the long run, it might just work out cheaper as well.
Photo Credit: Nick Harris