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TWEAKS+inspiration : How to Build a Bigger Mousetrap


I hate to admit it but little 4-legged creatures got the best of me this year. Living in the Oakland hills filled with deer, fox, rabbits, turkeys, gopher snakes and the occasional mountain lion, I love to see the wildlife. Just not in my basement. Because our house is on a downslope, it was built on pilings into bedrock. Unfortunately, the foundation is shallow.

Two things happened starting last January. Extraordinary rainfall and new sewer laterals were put in on our street taking five months to complete. It is my unprofessional opinion that these two "acts of nature" shook up the rodent population leading to my problem.

Clark's Pest Control was helpful with the "retrieval" of rodents and seeing the tunnels but an all encompassing, permanent solution was needed. It was like Whack-a-Mole trying to patch each tunnel under our foundation. Once they tunneled in, rodents surfaced in the soft dirt of the basement. Fortunately, they never went into the basement storage room or upstairs.

Last month, I finally admitted defeat. I had three companies offer solutions. I answered the door each time by simply saying, "I have a rodent problem." Each took about 90 minutes inspecting in and out. After inspection, all 3 shook their heads and said, "Rat Slab." Huh? To be fair, I've only caught one rat. But, 46 deer and field mice were caught in the basement this year. They had one favorite wood trap and the peanut butter bait proved irresistible. Clark's would promptly retrieve and I'd wait for the next.

So last Tuesday and Wednesday, the Original Rodent Proofers, in business for over 30 years with a 6-year guarantee, worked their magic. Unfortunately, the only way into the basement is through the main floor, down the stairs to the bedroom floor and then down another set of stairs to the basement.

The roof was inspected and lots of wire was bolted in place. Wire covers for any open pipes. It took the roof guy all day to close up. I have a tricky roofline. Around the exterior foundation, 90 degree metal and screen were bolted into place. In other spots, cement was troweled. They were meticulous in sealing all tiny crack.

Other members of the team inspected and sanitized the ceiling insulation, walls and dirt floor. Then, they laid heavy-duty plastic, then this thick papersack-looking materiel, then chicken wire, securing with 8" stakes. This will keep the cement in place.

The eight member team were all business but clearly enjoyed working together. They had been with the company for 2 to 18 years. They did minimal cleaning in the basement because each rodent came in independently and promptly got caught while feasting on peanut butter.

One Wednesday, the cement trucks began arriving at 10 a.m. Here are the first two trucks.

The first and second trucks each took an hour to unload.

One of the team guided the cement into different areas of the basement through the air vents.

The cement truck driver paid close attention to the pouring.

Here comes the 3rd cement truck. Each of the trucks held a different cement recipe due to the slope in the basement.

The main basement and the front of the house area (below) completed. There's a drainage system set up in case water or sewer pipes ever break.

The job went as described - super guys who knew their job and left the property clean. What surprised me was the heat emitted by the cement. It warmed up the house by 6 degrees as it cured. My friend, Sue, asked me how much this cost per caught rodent. $490 each. Yikes. But, I can't live in a mouse house and now it's rodent-proof for life.


PS. The following day, a woman from The Original Rodent Proofers called to say I overpaid. She said that my insulation and ducts were in good shape so she was sending me a check. How unexpected.

The following Monday, Sean from Original Rodent came to check the traps. Two field mice were DOA. Everyone had explained there might be some rodents trapped during the process. That meant 48 rodents total. Sean came back last Friday and the traps were empty. He said I won't see him again. Music to my ears!


The Original Rodent Proofers, Concord, CA (925.848.6842) and Redwood City, CA (650.520.8254).


A very special thank you to my brother, Tom, for his contractor point of view and advice. And to special inspector, Andy, who added insight in making this expensive decision. And to Connie who tolerated me texting her my photos of caught rodents like a cat showing her human mom her latest catch.




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