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Old 10-24-2019, 10:17 AM   #1
blackcatsamurai
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Default Cabin winterization

Hi all. Long time lurker, first time poster. My wife and I recently purchased property on Bear Island ... we love it!! I am admittedly not the best of handymen, but I can hold my own. That said, I pose my question ...

I am heading up soon to close the camp. Many recommend using anti-freeze in the drains to prevent ice once we have cleared the system. I know there are some options which have minimal impact on septic and such but am wondering ... has anyone used vodka instead? This seems like a relatively cheap alternative, and one that does not use anti-freeze and all the fun chemicals it contains. My googling has revealed a little info on this but am curious if any other cabin closers out there have used and found success this way.

Thanks in advance
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Old 10-24-2019, 10:32 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by blackcatsamurai View Post
Hi all. Long time lurker, first time poster. My wife and I recently purchased property on Bear Island ... we love it!! I am admittedly not the best of handymen, but I can hold my own. That said, I pose my question ...

I am heading up soon to close the camp. Many recommend using anti-freeze in the drains to prevent ice once we have cleared the system. I know there are some options which have minimal impact on septic and such but am wondering ... has anyone used vodka instead? This seems like a relatively cheap alternative, and one that does not use anti-freeze and all the fun chemicals it contains. My googling has revealed a little info on this but am curious if any other cabin closers out there have used and found success this way.

Thanks in advance
The antifreeze you should be using is "RV Antifreeze" which is completely non toxic and safe for your septic system. It is also good to -50 below zero. And at less than $3.00 per gallon much cheaper than any vodka (or any vodka I would drink!!) out there...

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Super-Tec...SABEgL50PD_BwE

Dan
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Old 10-24-2019, 12:06 PM   #3
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As Dan said what you want is RV anti-freeze... you have to leave something in the traps unless you want the smell from the septic tank to be there in the spring, and most of the summer.

Sure something like Vodka would work this isn't rocket sciences..... but the RV-Antifreeze is cheaper......

Some people empty the traps and completely refill them with antifreeze, that is overkill..... I just dump a quart or so down each drain..... and then flush the water out of the toilet tank, and toss a gallon in their and flush it...... 2 gallons of RV antifreeze is about 7 bucks or so....
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Old 10-24-2019, 12:15 PM   #4
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Thank you both, and for the link. $3+ a gallon for the RV anti-freeze seems a much better option. Was worried it would have a negative impact on the land but I stand corrected.

Even Popov, the cheap stuff, is more $$.

Now, here's to hoping I get this place shut down properly ... always an adventure!
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Old 10-24-2019, 12:28 PM   #5
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Default Be Careful

If you are not blowing out the water lines with air pressure, water tends to stay in the mixing valves of showers and faucets and that is where a lot of breaks happen. Look to get some air in those lines one way or another so the left over water drops and what not does not congregate in the valves. If in the valves and has no place to go it will expand there and crack them.

Also leave the valves open, and before draining an electric water heater, make sure the electricity is shut off otherwise you will blow one or both of the elements.

Its easy once you get comfortable with it! I do pay someone now to blow my new place out only because we have a lot more appliances to worry about than before just having a shower and sink

Good Luck
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Old 10-24-2019, 12:33 PM   #6
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Default Remember the Liquids

We have used RV antifreeze for years at our place on East Bear Island. Use it for your toilet, sink, and dishwasher if you have one. We take home any items that contain any liquid that would freeze, including food in cans, soda, wine, etc. We leave dry foods, many in mice-proof containers. We put mothballs in open bowls and place them in all of the rooms. We install posts at some locations on our porch to support snow loads at long spans. We also use a water circulator at our permanent dock area. ��
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Old 10-24-2019, 12:46 PM   #7
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And after you get that all done..................leave something to kill the mice!
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Old 10-24-2019, 12:57 PM   #8
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Default Antifreeze

My dad and I used to pour molasses in all the traps after emptying all the water lines. Seemed to work well .
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Old 10-24-2019, 01:23 PM   #9
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Ahh yes, mice! So, I can set traps, but, in the event they work I imagine it would smell something nasty come spring time.
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Old 10-24-2019, 01:35 PM   #10
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Any dead mouse will be fully dried out by spring. Personally I would use poison, a trap can only get one.

Before my dad retired we did many dozens of camp closing and opening. The concept is pretty simple, gravity. If there are any low spots in the pipes the water ends up there. If there was a camp where we could not get a look at the pipes under the house we would put some anti freeze into the system.

If it's a snow year make sure the roof gets shoveled.

Assume the power will go out and don't depend on any kind of heater.

It does not take much air to blow out the pipes. A small compressor is best but a bike pump will work too if you can rig the hose to a fitting.

Put and A frame of boards over any plants near the house that might be crushed by snow.

Canned food was already mentioned, it will freeze and burst.
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Old 10-24-2019, 02:03 PM   #11
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Default Tiny Hoarders

We no longer use Decon. Upon opening at ice-out, we would find the green pellets in many drawers, etc. where the tiny winter residents would secrete them. Also, our dogs might eat any loose ones they found. We did not want to risk that possibility. 🐻
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Old 10-24-2019, 03:23 PM   #12
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We no longer use Decon. Upon opening at ice-out, we would find the green pellets in many drawers, etc. where the tiny winter residents would secrete them. Also, our dogs might eat any loose ones they found. We did not want to risk that possibility. 🐻
use the kind that is a waxy block. Drill a hole in the block then loosely screw up out of reach of the dog, plus a mouse or rat can't carry it off.
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Old 10-24-2019, 03:24 PM   #13
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Default D-con

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Any dead mouse will be fully dried out by spring. Personally I would use poison, a trap can only get one.
Tried it, doesn't work, they don't eat it, most success with peanut butter on a mouse trap, works most of the time, but I am able to check them and rebait them unlike an island camp.
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Old 10-24-2019, 03:29 PM   #14
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We have friends with lots of pipes that can sag. They disconnect the water intake (you do this anyway) and with a small pump, add RV antifreeze to the entire system . They open valves and when it flows pink, close each valve. We used to have a jet pump for water intake, and struggled many times to get it primed as the intake pipe would sometimes have a small air leak that was difficult to find. Now we have a well pump in the lake and put a 4" pvc protection pipe over the intake pipe to protect against chafing. No more worries.
We use D-Con for rodents. Never had a problem, except the year we forgot it. It's the last thing and the first when we open so kids and pets don't have access. We put mothballs around the outside perimeter; the smell is gone by spring, but we think it encourages critters to find homes elsewhere. Linens go in plastic boxes, and newspapers on the beds. Some of this is overkill but it is part of the ritual.
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Old 10-24-2019, 04:11 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by blackcatsamurai View Post
Hi all. Long time lurker, first time poster. My wife and I recently purchased property on Bear Island ... we love it!! I am admittedly not the best of handymen, but I can hold my own. That said, I pose my question ...

I am heading up soon to close the camp. Many recommend using anti-freeze in the drains to prevent ice once we have cleared the system. I know there are some options which have minimal impact on septic and such but am wondering ... has anyone used vodka instead? This seems like a relatively cheap alternative, and one that does not use anti-freeze and all the fun chemicals it contains. My googling has revealed a little info on this but am curious if any other cabin closers out there have used and found success this way.

Thanks in advance
Don't forget; you can drink the Vodka. You can't drink the RV Antifreeze!
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Old 10-24-2019, 11:01 PM   #16
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Don't forget; you can drink the Vodka. You can't drink the RV Antifreeze!.
Of course you can drink it. Not as foul tasting as P;v, but safe. Add Cranberry instead of OJ.
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Old 10-25-2019, 04:27 AM   #17
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Of course you can drink it. Not as foul tasting as P;v, but safe. Add Cranberry instead of OJ.
What color does that come out as ?
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Old 10-25-2019, 07:14 AM   #18
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Tried it, doesn't work, they don't eat it, most success with peanut butter on a mouse trap, works most of the time, but I am able to check them and rebait them unlike an island camp.
Never heard of such a thing. D con works great and yes use the blocks. Much better than pellets
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Old 10-25-2019, 08:02 AM   #19
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We have friends with lots of pipes that can sag. They disconnect the water intake (you do this anyway) and with a small pump, add RV antifreeze to the entire system . They open valves and when it flows pink, close each valve. We used to have a jet pump for water intake, and struggled many times to get it primed as the intake pipe would sometimes have a small air leak that was difficult to find. Now we have a well pump in the lake and put a 4" pvc protection pipe over the intake pipe to protect against chafing. No more worries.
We use D-Con for rodents. Never had a problem, except the year we forgot it. It's the last thing and the first when we open so kids and pets don't have access. We put mothballs around the outside perimeter; the smell is gone by spring, but we think it encourages critters to find homes elsewhere. Linens go in plastic boxes, and newspapers on the beds. Some of this is overkill but it is part of the ritual.
Do tell about the newspapers on the beds. I have not heard of this before. And thanks all for the responses here. Taking notes. Lots of note!
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Old 10-25-2019, 09:22 AM   #20
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Default newspapers

We're told the critters don't like the sound of walking on newspaper. The year we forgot the D-Con, they made a mess of several rolls of toilet paper, but never touched the beds. (Miss the days when island kids used to deliver Sunday paper and fresh Dunkin Donuts).
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Old 10-25-2019, 09:26 AM   #21
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Default Bed Spread

We have stripped our beds, then spread newspaper on top, then placed mothballs on the fake news. Our water system allows us to open faucets at the cottage, and then open a valve which is located at water's edge on our intake line to drain the water lines of our entire system. 🚰
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Old 10-25-2019, 09:41 AM   #22
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The problem with the rodent poisons comes when an owl or other raptor eats a poisoned rodent. You may end up killing more than just the 4 legged pests (not to mention pets as previously posted)
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Old 10-25-2019, 10:01 AM   #23
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Some of this is overkill but it is part of the ritual.
Closing is such a ritual. We have a 100+ year old cast iron sink that does not have an enamel on it, it's basically the same finish as a cast iron skillet. When we were closing last week and my mom was smearing the sink with Crisco like we do every year I asked, "Do you think we really have to coat the sink with Crisco for the winter? Our cast iron skillets go without it all winter and they are fine?" her response, "I do it because that's how my mother did it and you will do it because that's how I did it." And so, like we have done for the last century+, in the Spring we will spend an hour scraping Crisco off the sink, even though it seems completely unnecessary to me.
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Old 10-25-2019, 10:42 AM   #24
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Default Wrap That Rascal

We wrap the mattresses in heavy plastic. All the chair/couch cushions and pillows go into contractor bags, as do the various life preservers. In each bag and with each mattress we put in a Bounce dryer sheet. Mice can't stand the smell and everything comes out smelling nicely in the Spring.

Bottom line: Don't leave anything available to the mice if they should find a way in.
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Old 10-25-2019, 10:58 AM   #25
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Closing is such a ritual. We have a 100+ year old cast iron sink that does not have an enamel on it, it's basically the same finish as a cast iron skillet. When we were closing last week and my mom was smearing the sink with Crisco like we do every year I asked, "Do you think we really have to coat the sink with Crisco for the winter? Our cast iron skillets go without it all winter and they are fine?" her response, "I do it because that's how my mother did it and you will do it because that's how I did it." And so, like we have done for the last century+, in the Spring we will spend an hour scraping Crisco off the sink, even though it seems completely unnecessary to me.
It can take many uses and careful heat/cool cycles with cooking oil to season an iron skillet so it is non-stick. Probably the same for the sink. Being porous, You could probably just put cooking spray on the sink and everybody would be happy, no need to spend cleaning time in the spring. We have "butcher block" hardwood counters/kitchen island that get a mineral oil rub down twice a year. No need for cutting boards pastry boards, etc and several people can stand around the island doing food prep. If it gets too many knife marks, we can belt sand it, and it's like new. Anyway, oiling the hardwood island is part of the ritual too, so it doesn't dry out too much over the winter when there is no heat. Like your sink, it may now be unnecessary, but my kids will have to make that decision.
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Old 10-25-2019, 12:57 PM   #26
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I use an old school method. Its a 5 gallon bucket with a Coke bottle covered in peanut butter mounted on a straight piece of coat hanger. Attach a piece of wood as a ramp. Put a couple of inches of automotive anti freeze in the bottom. Mice walk up the ramp, out onto the bottle and the bottle spins dropping them into the anti freeze. They drown and the antifreeze embalms them until Spring. No smell at all.
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Old 10-25-2019, 01:26 PM   #27
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We have stripped our beds, then spread newspaper on top, then placed mothballs on the fake news. Our water system allows us to open faucets at the cottage, and then open a valve which is located at water's edge on our intake line to drain the water lines of our entire system. 🚰
That's interesting. Do the mice not like the newspapers?
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Old 10-25-2019, 01:36 PM   #28
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Blue Thunder. That. Is. Awesome!
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Old 10-25-2019, 01:53 PM   #29
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Blue Thunder. That. Is. Awesome!
Thanks! It works like a champ. I can't take credit for it. Its often called the Maine Mouse Trap.
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Old 10-25-2019, 02:18 PM   #30
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I use an old school method. Its a 5 gallon bucket with a Coke bottle covered in peanut butter mounted on a straight piece of coat hanger. Attach a piece of wood as a ramp. Put a couple of inches of automotive anti freeze in the bottom. Mice walk up the ramp, out onto the bottle and the bottle spins dropping them into the anti freeze. They drown and the antifreeze embalms them until Spring. No smell at all.
Interesting. But how do you dispose of the embalmed bodies/antifreeze in the spring?
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Old 10-25-2019, 03:22 PM   #31
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The mice dislike the smell of the mothballs. It also deters the pineys from staying. 🐻
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Old 10-25-2019, 04:25 PM   #32
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Default Winterizing the cabin.

In case of the family cabin, a competent plumber actually set up all the pipes to drain back to the pump by shutting off the pump and open all the faucets. When flushing the toilets make sure the flush stays open. Works like a charm for decades! Of course we fill all the sewage traps with antifreeze.
Mice eventually will tolerate moth balls, dryer sheets, Irish Springs etc. So the Maine mouse trap is your best bet. Trouble with poisoning mice will go off and die in places that will scare the missus to the point of no return. The mouse traps are fine, just get the strong plastic ones, the wooden ones don't snap hard enough. You have to go back and reset them. If you have electricity, those electric rodents eradicators on every floor works fairly well!
Make sure all food are in glass or metal containers. Mice eat cardboard and plastic. Don't leave paper around, mice uses them to make nests. Same as clothing, towels and bedding. Best to bring them home or store them in cedar chest or wooden boxes with moth balls/lavender combo balls found in your local hardware stores.
Only other thing you need to worry about are lady bugs and or bats. That another chapter to discuss.
Welcome to seasonal living in the Granite State!
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Old 10-25-2019, 05:53 PM   #33
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I use an old school method. Its a 5 gallon bucket with a Coke bottle covered in peanut butter mounted on a straight piece of coat hanger. Attach a piece of wood as a ramp. Put a couple of inches of automotive anti freeze in the bottom. Mice walk up the ramp, out onto the bottle and the bottle spins dropping them into the anti freeze. They drown and the antifreeze embalms them until Spring. No smell at all.
Nice plan. Their last meal is a good one!
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Old 10-26-2019, 06:56 PM   #34
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Another method is to spray fox urine under the camp in the Fall. The rodents will immediately move out and if you're lucky the foxes will build a den nearby. I've been using that along with rat sized snap traps and the bottle over the bucket method to control my chipmunks (rats in cute suits) and mice. It's kinda stinky when you spray it but will fade away by Spring. Agway used to carry it but don't anymore and since then I have been able to get the same Maine company product from Amazon.
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Old 10-27-2019, 03:32 AM   #35
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That's interesting. Do the mice not like the newspapers?
I've tried walking on spread-out newspapers, and have yet to see any critters around.

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Old 10-27-2019, 11:55 AM   #36
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Nice plan. Their last meal is a good one!
I made a couple of those, best mouse trap ever! Better fill that bucket up half way though. If it's there all winter without emptying it they could pile up.
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Old 10-27-2019, 01:54 PM   #37
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The problem with the rodent poisons comes when an owl or other raptor eats a poisoned rodent. You may end up killing more than just the 4 legged pests (not to mention pets as previously posted)
Not only raptors, but fox, cats, and any other scavenging carnivore. In our cabin in the north country we use a few of the snap traps with peanut butter, and a couple of the bucket traps, but we use the RV antifreeze in them, safe and non toxic to dispose of.
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Old 10-28-2019, 07:12 AM   #38
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I made a couple of those, best mouse trap ever! Better fill that bucket up half way though. If it's there all winter without emptying it they could pile up.
Last year I was collecting 3-4 mice each day in my bucket trap........have not seen a single mouse this year.Starting to see an occasional squirrel and chipmunk
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Old 10-28-2019, 07:17 AM   #39
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Last year I was collecting 3-4 mice each day in my bucket trap........have not seen a single mouse this year.Starting to see an occasional squirrel and chipmunk
Same here, not one mouse this year but I did catch a chipmunk.
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Old 10-28-2019, 09:17 AM   #40
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Default Bucket trap

If I do a bucket trap, can I put it outside and attract critters before they get inside? Will it attract bigger critters that I don't want, e.g, skunk, coyote? How about under something that only has access for mouse sized animals?
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Old 10-28-2019, 09:21 AM   #41
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If I do a bucket trap, can I put it outside and attract critters before they get inside? Will it attract bigger critters that I don't want, e.g, skunk, coyote? How about under something that only has access for mouse sized animals?
The peanut butter will attract all kinds of animals. The bigger animals will lick the bottle clean in no time.
I had one in my garage and a buddy of mine came over with his dog and he licked it clean when we weren't looking.
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Old 10-28-2019, 09:47 AM   #42
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Though I get killing what gets in, I, and every pest control company, do everything I can to keep things out. Doesn't matter if the thing that crapped all over your place is dead after--it still crapped all over your place!

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Old 10-28-2019, 09:53 AM   #43
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Though I get killing what gets in, I, and every pest control company, do everything I can to keep things out. Doesn't matter if the thing that crapped all over your place is dead after--it still crapped all over your place!

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Have to agree...I would think it would be more advantageous to determine how they are getting in in the first place.

When we first bought our place on Welch, we had mice getting in over the winter. We then insulated and fully sealed off the floor with 1/4" plywood and strapping and caulked sealed all the edges. Not a single critter has gotten in since and that's been about 10 years now...

Dan
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Old 10-28-2019, 03:51 PM   #44
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You're right, Dan, and actually, we haven't had much critter evidence except once over 10 years ago. As noted earlier, a lot of this is ritual. You can only change the ritual when the generations change.
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Old 10-29-2019, 07:13 AM   #45
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If I do a bucket trap, can I put it outside and attract critters before they get inside? Will it attract bigger critters that I don't want, e.g, skunk, coyote? How about under something that only has access for mouse sized animals?
Yes, it will attract all kinds of critters, and the antifireeze could attract pets who, sadly, like to drink it, despite it being fatal to them.

I really hope those who use this method are using RV antifreeze. Otherwise I don't like to think about how or where they are disposing of the end "solution"
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Old 10-29-2019, 08:33 AM   #46
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Have to agree...I would think it would be more advantageous to determine how they are getting in in the first place.

When we first bought our place on Welch, we had mice getting in over the winter. We then insulated and fully sealed off the floor with 1/4" plywood and strapping and caulked sealed all the edges. Not a single critter has gotten in since and that's been about 10 years now...

Dan
When we built our place we used spray foam on all the penetrations in/out of the cottage. Knock on wood.....Anytime I go through the floor I always seal it up. 12 years and counting....knocking again
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Old 10-29-2019, 08:37 AM   #47
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Lightbulb Great Stuff...

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Originally Posted by thinkxingu View Post
Though I get killing what gets in, I, and every pest control company, do everything I can to keep things out. Doesn't matter if the thing that crapped all over your place is dead after--it still crapped all over your place!
Holes can be plugged with a new anti-rodent product from Great Stuff.
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