A Green Answer to Rodent Control
It's a typical day at Sierra Feed and Saddle on South Virginia Street in Reno. Customers are coming and going, there's a pan of cool water out for any dogs that may come in with customers and Mr. Phipps is taking a stroll surveying the area he is responsible for keeping rodent free. He's been doing this for free for three years now. You see, Mr. Phipps is a 14 pound tabby that lives next door. But he knows they depend on him to catch mice and anything unwanted that gets near the pallets of feed. Plus, he gets to keep all he catches.
Mr. Phipps is actually a domestic cat who lives next door with Nick and Erik Bickerstaff. But he's part of the growing trend in green rodent management. Think about it, they work for pay, they are thorough and they have fun at their job. Cats are the perfect answer! And just in time because the Department of Wildlife reports more and more rodents in neighborhoods and warehouses looking for water in this drought. Local pest control companies also report more mice and rat calls this summer over last. And as we drive coyotes out of urban areas, the only real control on rodents is poison....and cats.
For years now the Nevada Humane Society has been offering feral cats for the purpose of patrolling barns and warehouses. And they say it's become such a popular program that they are actually down to about a dozen feral cats right now.
"Our barn cat program is a great answer to all the problems," says Kimberly Wade with the Humane Society Shelter on Longley Lane in Reno. "This is a way to find the cats a home, they are happy to be left to work. People feed them, they take care of the rodents and it's a non-toxic solution to the rodents."
She says the cats work better as a team so if you have a large space to patrol two or three cats seem to work well together. And if you can show they are going to a good home feral cats can be adopted for free.
As for Mr. Phipps, he's not a feral cat, but a domestic who likes to volunteer his time for the petting and the perks. And he's there most workdays...on duty.