Rodents, like rats and mice, enter the home in search of food, water and shelter. While it is common for field mice to enter the home in the fall when the temperatures drop and food sources dry up for the winter, other rodents, like rats, may enter and make themselves at home any time of the year. The secret to controlling a rodent infestation is to make your home uninviting and cut off their access to your home.
The most effective rodent control methods include eliminating sources of food and water, sealing or blocking entrances to your home and trapping or baiting any rodents that are left in your home.
Simply baiting or trapping rodents may seem like the best control & prevention of rodents, but there is more involved in controlling a rodent infestation than getting rid of the existing rodents. Without efforts to make your home uninviting and unavailable, new rodents will likely enter and set up residence in your home. Here’s what you need to do.
Eliminating food sources for mice and rats is relatively easy, once you understand their food preferences.
Mice prefer grains and seeds but will also eat protein and sweets. Mice typically raid the cupboards seeking out cereal, search for crumbs around the stove or other cooking areas, raid dried pet food and devour birdseed. Mice nibble on food all day and may make multiple trips to a favored food source. Mice also steal bits of food (like the supply of kibble in Fido’s bowl) and carry them away to create a stash for late. If you find piles of seeds, bits of cereal or kitty’s favorite dried dinner in drawers or even in the bottom of shoes in the closet, you likely have a mouse infestation.
Rats prefer foods high in carbs and protein but will eat nearly anything they can find when their favorite foods are not available. Rats tend to eat until they are full and return when they are hungry, typically under the cover of darkness. Rats devour garbage and can be found around trash bins.
Putting your stored foods in sealed containers, removing access to pet food and making sure trash bins and cans are sealed tightly will eliminate common food sources. Don’t forget to seal up pet food, garden or lawn seeds, and birdseeds, too.
Eliminating water sources is also important in controlling rodents. Remove any sources of standing water in and around your home. Check for leaks or drips around water pipes, washing machines and dishwashers as they may be providing rodents with a steady supply of water.
Blocking entrances for rodents isn’t difficult, but it does require some serious work as these pests can make their way into your home via tiny holes or cracks you may not even know are there. Mice can squeeze through a hole the size of a pencil, while adult rats can wiggle through a hole the size of a nickel.
• Check for holes in screens.
• Look for cracks or crevices around window and door frames.
• Examine the area around all drainage or exhaust pipes for gaps or holes.
• Check the eaves for holes or cracks. Roof rats often gain access to the attic via tiny holes in the eaves.
• Walk around your home and look for any damage to the siding or gaps around the foundation that may allow access to your home.
The outside of your home has a big impact on rodent infestations, too. Cleaning up the yard to eliminate hiding spots and sources of food is important, too.
• Remove all garden and yard debris near the foundation of your home. This includes stacked or scrap wood. Pile wood at least 20 feet from your home.
• Keep plants and shrubs at least 4 feet from the foundation of your home.
• Check that all outside trash bins seal securely and keep the area around them raked cleaned. Even a few bits of food on the ground will attract rodents.
• Remove fallen fruit from trees and shrubs frequently as these can provide a feast for hungry rodents.
Once you have removed the sources of food and water and eliminated access to your home the best control & prevention of rodents is to bait or trap any that are left in your home. You can purchase mouse and rat traps at your local hardware store. These range from catch and release traps that allow you to catch the rodents without harming them to snap traps that kill the rodent instantly. Be aware that mouse and rat bait is toxic and should not be used around children and pets.