Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Backyard Pest Adventure

As is probably true of my readers who have adult children, emails describing their activities are always welcome. 

Today's post is an email from one of my sons, Fritz Pablo*. He has given me permission to share it with you.

It's been a busy week here! In addition to normal work & chores, we had an extra incident to deal with.. We've been enjoying eating meals on the picnic table on our back deck quite often this summer.. But then about a week ago, we started noticing a terrible smell in the backyard. 

From years of disposing of small animals our cats hunted, we knew it was the stench of a critter corpse. Best we could tell, it was coming from under our deck. 

As you know, our deck is only a foot or so off the ground, with not really enough space for a person to crawl around under. And wherever there are a few small gaps between the wood and the ground, there are bricks plugging up the holes, so that critters can't get in - this is the way previous owners of the house already had it. 

So with this in mind, we figured it could only be a small rodent, like a mouse. We went all over the deck, shining flashlights down through the tiny spaces between planks, but couldn't see anything. So we hoped it was indeed a tiny rodent, and that the smell would soon abate. But the smell was bad enough we couldn't eat meals outside.

Days passed, and the smell (in the intense summer heat) seemed to get worse. We took up a few of the deck's boards, hoping to find the problem underneath, but with so many boards, we were shooting in the dark as to which ones to try - and each board had 8 or more screws (often old, stripped ones) we had to wrestle with. Still didn't find anything. 

Then, the other evening, I went out and saw flies hanging out in one particular spot, so I took the flashlight and looked around more in that area - and saw an animal's paw down underneath! It was gray, so thought it was probably a rabbit. 

Luckily, this was near a small plank, that only had 4 screws in it, so I removed the plank pretty quickly. And then I was able to see down and to the side a bit, an adult raccoon body. It was rather large, but I was able to get it out of the hole. 

I'll back up for a minute-- as soon as I knew I was going to be able to extract it, I donned my full "homeowner's haz-mat suit" with a mask, sleeves, hood, gloves, etc. And I had trash bags opened up & ready. I used two of those garden hand-rakes/claws, and was able to grab onto the expired raccoon and get him out of the hole and into the trash bags without it touching anything else. 

It took a few minutes, as it was at a weird angle, but I got it out, triple-bagged it, and took it to our alley trash can. I did this without alerting [the Lil' Red-haired Girl] - who was inside at work on her computer - because it was very gross, and I didn't want her to have to see. I'll spare you the details! The stink remained for a few more days, until the trash truck came and took it away. 

Final chapter of the story: I realized that although all little gaps in the deck were patched up - in the part of the yard we can see - there was a whole other side of the deck that was completely open underneath. This is in the tiny area between our lot and our north-side neighbor, a place I've never ventured. It's a gap between our backyard fence and his, only about a foot wide. I was able to shimmy back there and drop to the ground to see the place where a raccoon could easily crawl under the deck. There were 3 openings: about 3 foot by one foot, each. 

So with the help of Dad's table saw, I was able to cut up some scrap wood we had, and patch it up. So hopefully we won't have to go through that again! 

There's always been a raccoon issue in our neighborhood, and I've had to dispose of their poop a few times a year. So now we're going to take our deterrent measures up a notch: I bought some coyote urine from Home Depot, which I'm going to spray in the yard. And I also have a pellet gun at the ready, so that if we see them out there at night, I can hopefully scare them off. 

So that's the news from here. Otherwise, same old stuff :)

the Lil' Red-haired Girl and Fritz Pablo

*Fritz Pablo is the pen name he uses for business purposes.


  1. ickkkkkkkk...lolol...thanks for the grins and giggles, smiles. Have a beautiful day friend.

  2. Oh my gosh, what an adventure. Whew!! Coyote urine? Had no idea you could purchase it. Not going to venture a guess about how it is collected!! That is quite the story!

  3. Oh, what a story! Raccoons are so stinking cute but such a nuisance. We had lots of them at our old house and Hubby set traps and caught too many to remember. Cute post!

  4. This story sounds all too familiar to me, including the low deck where critters can go, but people can not. I am using Liquid Fence. Of course, the stench is so great that I can't use my deck when I apply it, but if they can't use it either, it's worth it. I buried my offender in the backyard. Acckkk...

    Glad that you have your critter troubles under control. That must take a bit of getting used to again. See how you've grown no longer screaming in fear. (I don't scream, but I sure like to pretend that by ignoring something it will go away.)