opabinia51
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

Rodents and Disease

This is a quote from another thread but, I think it is something very important that people should keep in mind:
If you have a pet cat, keep it indoors. Be vigilant about flea control. Practice rodent control around your house--this includes discouraging cute rodents such as squirrels, ground squirrels and chipmunks around your house (all rodents have fleas that can carry plague). If you find a dead animal in your yard, do NOT handle it with bare hands! Put on disposable gloves, and use a shovel or some other tool to scoop it into a plastic bag, before discarding it in the trash (you can call your state or local health department regarding testing for rabies, plague or other diseases).

Be careful with rodents folks.

And yes, it is a good idea to keep your cats indoors, they do wreak havoc on local bird and mammal populations. Though, I must admit that I am not the best person to be advocating on this topic. :oops:
Feed the soil, not the plants.

TheLorax
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1416
Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 2:40 am
Location: US

The above should include that it's in all of our best interests to have one's pet(s) spayed/neutered and vetted annually to include vaccines.

Why is it that you do not believe yourself to be one of the best people to be advocating the practice of keeping one's cat(s) inside? It's a sound practice to advocate.

MaineDesigner
Green Thumb
Posts: 439
Joined: Thu Nov 09, 2006 4:17 pm
Location: Midcoast Maine, Zone 5b

I'm totally on board with keeping cat indoors and dogs either indoors, on lead or inside a properly fenced enclosure (not tethered out). The vaccination issue, however, is a dodgy one. There appears to have been a considerable up tick in immune related disorders in both cats and dogs over the past few decades. Since no one funds expensive, large scale, animal public health research on these subjects the evidence is anecdotal but there is a ton of it. Considerable suspicion is being being pointed at the recommended vaccination schedule but pollution* and perhaps diet are also implicated. There is a challenge trial (privately funded) in progress right now for the rabies vaccine. No one has ever critically looked at how long canine rabies vaccines actually offer effective antibody protection. This is true of most domestic animal vaccines.

*domestic animals have shown much higher levels of pollutants relative to body weight than humans - this yet one more reason to be careful with pesticides.

TheLorax
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1416
Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 2:40 am
Location: US

I believe rats should be humanely destroyed whenever possible. Rats; like cats, dogs, and horses are non-native species on the continent of North America. The sad reality is that pets and wildlife don't mix well.

Very good comments about not allowing dogs to run. Very good point about vaccines. However, it would be in all of our best interests if all pet owners vaccinated their animals annually until that is sorted out.

First site that popped up in a search for rats + cats + dogs + wildlife-
https://www.fws.gov/deerflat/pets.htm
excerpts below.
Cat owners often tell of a dead bird, mouse, or lizard "present" left on the welcome mat or, worse, on the living room rug. Domestic cats have been estimated to kill more than a billion small mammals and hundreds of millions of birds each year. Although the death toll is staggering, it is not surprising when you consider that there are 40 million pet cats allowed to roam free, and millions of additional stray cats.
Contrary to popular belief, making sure that pets are well fed will not solve the problem. Even well fed cats and dogs continue to hunt. In one study, cats eating their favorite food were presented with a small, live rat. All the cats stopped eating just long enough to kill the rat, then returned to the food.
Putting bells on cats' collars will also not solve the problem. Some cats learn to stalk prey without ringing the bell. In other cases, the bell rings too late to warn the prey, or the prey don't consider a ringing bell to be a threat. A study in Great Britain found that cats with bells actually killed slightly more animals, on average, than cats without bells.
Although dogs are probably less successful hunters than cats, a dog on an unsuccessful hunt can still harm wildlife. Animals chased by dogs spend their energy on escaping. Being chased by a dog, especially for young or pregnant animals, might mean the difference between having and not having the energy to survive.
https://www.news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=8662

excerpt from above-
Distemper Identified as Cause of Skunk Deaths in Shasta County

May 15, 2008

Canine distemper, one of the most serious viral diseases affecting dogs, appears to have caused the deaths in recent months of a large number of skunks, foxes and raccoons in Northern California, report veterinary scientists at the University of California, Davis.
USGS and a network of partners across the country work on documenting wildlife mortality events in order to provide timely and accurate information on locations, species and causes of death. This information was updated on May 16, 2008 on the USGS National Wildlife Health Center web page, New and Ongoing Wildlife Mortality Events Nationwide. See below link if interested.

https://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/mortality_events/ongoing.jsp

We don't hate pets. We have 1 rat, 6 indoor only cats, 2 house dogs that are always on leashes when they leave our home, and are now up to four horses. With the exception of the rat which was purchased at a pet shop and one cat that was not feral that we vetted and kept after it ended up in our traps, all of our animals were acquired as adults from local humane societies and that certainly does include the horses too. People neglect, abuse, and abandon them too.

Where I live we have leash laws for cats just as we do for dogs. Cats and dogs are specifically exempted from protection under the wildlife code and our DNR has no regulation protecting cats or dogs as they are not considered wildlife. I don't see any further attempts to re-classify cats as wildlife being successful. Our town provides live traps to homeowners free of charge and dispatches an animal control officer to remove ferals and strays from our properties once they are trapped.

Interesting read here about how US Military Installations reduce feral and stray cat populations as well as why-
https://www.afpmb.org/pubs/tims/tim37.htm

For rat control, we currently use the same devices being used by our local Base. In fact it was military personnel who first introduced us to the product. Most humane way to destroy rats that I have ever found.

Garden Spider
Cool Member
Posts: 88
Joined: Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:07 pm
Location: Western Washington

[quote="TheLorax"]I believe rats should be humanely destroyed whenever possible. Rats; like cats, dogs, and horses are non-native species on the continent of North America. The sad reality is that pets and wildlife don't mix well.

Very good comments about not allowing dogs to run. Very good point about vaccines. However, it would be in all of our best interests if all pet owners vaccinated their animals annually until that is sorted out.

quote]

I no longer vaccinate my dogs annualy. I give them the 3 year rabies vaccine, because that is required by law. For all other vaccines, I do titers. If the titer for a disease shows protection, I do not vaccinate for that disease. If the titer shows susceptibility, I vaccinate for that disease ONLY, and only if the titer indicates it's necessary. If I could get a titer for rabies, I would do it. (It can be done, because it's done for humans, but the law won't allow it for animals).

My dogs have never been sick. We had one dog that came down with kennel cough about 2 or 3 days after we adopted him, that he acquired at the animal shelter. We had one that came to us with mange. Otherwise, the dogs have never been sick, and certainly never with a vaccine preventable disease. There's been a lot in the literature about possible links between autoimmune diseases and pets, especially cats. I've known some people who have had dogs contract lupus, shortly after a vaccine. Maybe the dogs would have come down with lupus anyway; there's no way to tell. I'm not willing to risk my dog's life, either with no vaccination at all, OR by over-vaccinating. Annual titers, I believe, are the solution to the dilemna.
Barb and the Two Furry Speedbumps

MaineDesigner
Green Thumb
Posts: 439
Joined: Thu Nov 09, 2006 4:17 pm
Location: Midcoast Maine, Zone 5b

I have to get to work so this will be brief.
Human land use decisions selectively favor herbivores, especially the smaller ones. That coupled with our campaigns against predator species have severely damaged the natural controls on rodents and deer (and some omnivores like raccoons and possums). Whether or not they belong here I'm not persuaded that native status alone warrants any special regard.

TheLorax
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1416
Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 2:40 am
Location: US

I do understand what you are trying to communicate about our land management practices in both the public and private sector. Very complex issues when coupled with the loss of predator species. The raccoon you mentioned comes to mind as a species of particular concern in urban areas for reasons I don't feel comfortable getting into at present. Good points.

ahughes798
Cool Member
Posts: 75
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 3:38 am
Location: wauconda, IL

There is a species of rat native to North America. The wood rat. It has fur on it's tail and collects interesting things from it's human neighbors.

It will often leave a gift in return.

cheshirekat
Senior Member
Posts: 264
Joined: Tue May 13, 2008 3:13 am
Location: Denver, CO (zone 5)

I agree with MaineDesigner.

Personally, I think there is far too much emphasis put on "native" is better these days. Being native sure didn't help the Indians, the true natives. If providing only "native" is the best way to go, then half of the foods should not be grown either. And for that fact, our borders should be closed so no other non-natives come in, bringing their own foods and cultures. And people who visit other countries should not be allowed to return with luggage or anything but the clothes on their backs because all kinds of bugs will sneak into baggage. And make sure we put up a great big net that reaches far into the sky to keep all the birds from going from one place to another.

Say goodbye to imports and exports - that doesn't help the natives. And educating our youth that native is better says to them that anything non-native is worthless. If it ain't from around here, let's kill it. It's perfectly okay to buy stuff, not want it any more and try to destroy it. We have a bunch of sparrows and pigeons that were brought here, they didn't ask to come here, and now they are treated like pariah because they do what any animal and human will do - try to survive and thrive. And let's not forget all the slaves that were brought over and all the problems that still exist because people won't admit that they really just don't respect life. They have to put all these labels and classifications on every single thing. One moment something is popular and the next day it's so "wrong" to even think it. People like to make themselves feel better by saying you are bad, they are bad, it is bad. But the truth is that life is good and all life should be respected.

I don't think it is possible to have a planet that is filled with such diversity and maintain "natives". It is still one planet and humans are more mobile than any other living thing.

I don't like rats, but humans think they have exclusive rights over all life and we don't and we shouldn't. The rats are here because they have fewer places to go. Just as species are dying off because they have nowhere to live.

We should not blindly fill our own pets with drugs just because we are told to do so. We do not have the right to manipulate and mutilate at will the bodies of any species because we are so privileged and our science is so correct. Heck, our science is making a huge profit on the here and now. That is what is most important to them. I know a lot of chemicals I wish I hadn't taken into my body over the years but science wants to prolong my life even if it is to make sure they get me dependent on drugs to eke out a few more miserable years because they don't make money if I die fast. I can kill so many things on this planet but I can't kill myself if I have a terminal disease. By being born, I have given up all rights to do with my body as I wish. Probably because no matter how lowly a person I may be, someone has to make money off of me, and I must live forever. That kind of thinking is what is destroying us. It destroys life.

I don't have to love the prairie dogs I see to know that it isn't right to uproot and kill them so we can build more cookie-cutter housing. All that new housing is about greed and selfishness. The squirrels drive me crazy but I can't go killing them because they want food. We live in their world just as much as they live in ours. People want to point fingers at other people over stuff that is truly trifling while they disparage and have such disdain for doing the right thinking and action to preserve and respect life. Humans are hypocrites.

Yes, it is all very complex. There aren't any easy answers because humans are too selfish. I don't like cat poop in my yard. Now if someone could make money off it, the laws would be changed so that people have to keep their diseased cats indoors. I have a neighbor that lets her cat run wild through the neighborhood because she said her cat has gotten mean. She doesn't want to put up with it, so I got her cat's poop in my yard each day. And the cat is mean so my inflict harm on me or the kids in the neighborhood. That's irresponsible. Cats are domesticated animals. They aren't wild. Lions and tigers and cougars and lynx are wild. I wouldn't want them climbing on my kitchen counters or snuggling on my pillow either. Well, the lynx are cute, give it a shower and I might let it snuggle with me. Showers solve many problems. LOL.

When you think about it, there are really a lot of reasons people don't agree on stuff, isn't there? You really have to laugh or go crazy.
"Love all God's creatures, the animals, the plants. Love everything to perceive the divine mystery in all." -Fyodor Dostoyevsky

raptor
Full Member
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2008 10:07 am

Not enough emphasis put on native

ahughes798
Cool Member
Posts: 75
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 3:38 am
Location: wauconda, IL

Personally, I think there is far too much emphasis put on "native" is better these days. Being native sure didn't help the Indians, the true natives

The reason being native "sure didn't help the Indians" is because people of European descent purposely did things like give the natives blankets infested with the smallpox virus, which was not native to this continent, and to which the Indian's immune systems didn't have a defense. Ergo...lots of dead indians. It was done on purpose. It was the whole point of the excercise. The Europeans also very handily drove into near extinction the plains Indians main source of food...the buffalo. It was done on purpose. The europeans also drove native americans, like cattle, hundreds of miles off their native lands(hellloooooo trail of tears), subjecting them to diseases and famine and upheaval that their physiological and social systems simply couldn't deal with.

And we also had a president who said the only good indian is a dead indian.

Educating youth that native species are better for the local environment is a no-brainer, IMO...because it's SO easy to show the damage non-native invasive species cause...to the tune of $150 BILLION plus of our tax dollars a year. I hope you're enjoying your money being spent on combatting invasive species.

I'm not talking about food crops...while corn and soy take up valuable land...they're not invasive species.

What's an invasive species? It's flora, fauna, virus and fungi. For example:

Dutch Elm Disease...an imported beetle that loves to chomp on elms. It's also a vector for an imported virus that kills American elms.

Sudden Oak Death....Imported virus, same as the above, only with oaks. Hitting Cali hard, also the SE US.

Pine Bark Beetle...imported beetle, imported virus. Killing pines everywhere.

Emerald Ash Borer....and imported beetle that will kill all the ash trees in your lovely subdivision, which, if it's like the cookie cutter subdivisions here, are 100% planted with Ash's.

Narrow Leafed Cat-Tail...pushing out the native cat-tail, the native cat-tail being a great nesting place for endangered birds like the yellow-headed blackbird.

Purple Loosestrife: Pushes out ALL native water plants. No wildlife value at all. It doesn't feed or house anything. Takes over everything.

Phragmites grass. Same as above.

English House Sparrow...an introduced cavity nester that pushes out native cavity nesters(bluebirds, chickadees, wrens, barn swallows). And it doesn't just "scare them away"...it literally kills the competiton. Ever seen an adult bluebird sitting on a nest, dead, with it's eyes pecked out?

English house sparrows at work.

You know, I could go on and on and on as to why invasive, non native species stink, and cause 100's of billions of damage in this country every year, but I won't. It takes so little effort to see the damage they do.

MaineDesigner
Green Thumb
Posts: 439
Joined: Thu Nov 09, 2006 4:17 pm
Location: Midcoast Maine, Zone 5b

For the benefit of anyone who didn't get my drift from my very brief post above I was referring narrowly and specifically to common native rodents and deer, not any broader issue of native versus exotic. In that larger argument I consider myself "pro-native" but not to the exclusion of well behaved exotic plants. The science on this issue is very complicated and occasionally the natives only partisans vastly over simplify the complexities (as do the "it doesn't matter" voices).
Last edited by MaineDesigner on Wed Jul 02, 2008 11:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

TheLorax
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1416
Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 2:40 am
Location: US

Yes MaineDesigner, I caught your drift. It was a good solid drift too.

Can this thread be moved to the "Non-Gardening Related Hoo-ha and Foo".
This is a Members Only Forum about anything you want to discuss, as long as it's NOT gardening related. You can even create polls. Let down your hair and leave the gardening gloves behind. :)
It won't be able to be read by people who aren't registered and logged in over there.

To continue with what I believe may have been one intent of the original poster (to discourage non-native invasive species ie: cats & rats from getting an even stronger foothold in the environment), has anyone read the original Pimentel report of 1999?
https://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/Jan99/species_costs.html
It rocked the world!

An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure! We North Americans truly need to discontinue slapping band aids on these issues. I don't see how we can afford to continue allowing non-native invasive species to be spread from sea to shining sea given our resources are not unlimited although there are many who would have us believe otherwise. Pay now or pay later but we're going to pay.

Backing up to Cornell's Pimentel report of 1999 in which it was estimated the tax payer was shelling out 139 billion dollars a year cleaning up these messes, that was back in 1999.... I believe we're well beyond the 200 billion dollar a year mark now. Off topic, I resent tax payer dollars being spent on the control, management, and eradication of non-native invasive species but do understand it is in the best interests of public health to do so given the destruction to the environment which we humans depend upon for survival. Would have much preferred the blunt of those dollars being able to be channeled into social programming.
1. The philosopher Kâo said, 'Man's nature is like water whirling round in a corner. Open a passage for it to the east, and it will flow to the east; open a passage for it to the west, and it will flow to the west. Man's nature is indifferent to good and evil, just as the water is indifferent to the east and west.'

2. Mencius replied, 'Water indeed will flow indifferently to the east or west, but will it flow indifferently up or down? The tendency of man's nature to good is like the tendency of water to flow downwards. There are none but have this tendency to good, just as all water flows downwards.

3. 'Now by striking water and causing it to leap up, you may make it go over your forehead, and, by damming and leading it you may force it up a hill;-- but are such movements according to the nature of water? It is the force applied which causes them. When men are made to do what is not good, their nature is dealt with in this way.'
I believe most try very hard to do the right thing to the extent their budget and knowledge allows.

I am feeling a little bit tattered and threadbare these days particularly when I am in natural areas looking at the damage first hand.

I have a plan that I diligently work on, it's to save my little piece of this world. It's that good old "think globally while acting locally". I remove invasive species from my property while planting back natives and adding a few mild mannered exotics as I see fit. I have begun to grow edibles, none are natives to the best of my knowledge. In my mind, there is no denying that our lot in life as human beings has been substantially improved by the existence of many non-native species of both plant and animal. Time and health allowing, I'll continue to volunteer in natural areas cleaning up this inherited mess with others who are in a position to do the same. Oh how I wish some plants could be neutered and spayed.

I applaud others who share their time and talent in natural areas eradicating non-native invasive species. That would be you ahughes798 since I have now visited your home and met you in person and have been to the site where you volunteer but it would also include my neighbor raptor who is a land steward (volunteer) struggling to keep non-native invasives at bay on an increasingly dwindling budget while depending on man power of a few dedicated volunteers who show up regularly using an old computer I gave to him to be able to keep track of what's going on at his site. He's a wildlife gardener like me. He's a phenomenal propagator as well as an organic gardener extraordinaire.

ahughes798
Cool Member
Posts: 75
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 3:38 am
Location: wauconda, IL

Ok...please tell me why I should be afraid of native animals like squirrels and rabbits and chipmunks?

Lorax...your chance of being affected by plague is about the same as your chance of being mauled by a grizzly bear in your back yard, or being hit by a flying piano. Seriously.

You want something to worry about? Worry about MRSA. Worry about the stock market, and the price of oil, which is going to have an enormous impact on your life.

TheLorax
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1416
Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 2:40 am
Location: US

Ok...please tell me why I should be afraid of native animals like squirrels and rabbits and chipmunks?
This was a rhetorical question in that you weren't really looking for an answer, correct?
Lorax...your chance of being affected by plague is about the same as your chance of being mauled by a grizzly bear in your back yard, or being hit by a flying piano. Seriously.
You would be correct as of right now however concern is not unwarranted.
Educating youth that native species are better for the local environment is a no-brainer, IMO...because it's SO easy to show the damage non-native invasive species cause...to the tune of $150 BILLION plus of our tax dollars a year. I hope you're enjoying your money being spent on combatting invasive species.
Agreed regarding education of youth. Not exactly thrilled with tax dollars being spent this way however I do realize it is necessary to re-establish some semblance of balance.

Return to “Wildlife - Gardening with Local Critters in Mind”