Rats and mice are some of the most troublesome and damaging rodents in the United States. They consume and contaminate food, damage structures and property, and transmit parasites and diseases to other animals, including humans. Rats and mice thrive under a wide variety of climates and conditions; they are often found in and around structures, farms, gardens and open fields. Most households will experience mice/rats at some point. It is important to take steps to prevent mice/rats from being attracted to structures. Once a rodent has found a home with plenty of food, it will inevitably build a nest and start to breed. Since mice are nocturnal creatures (usually venture out at night), it is not always easy to tell if you have a mouse in your house.
- Mouse/rat droppings will be found in corners or near food, they are small and brown in color (3/8 inch for a mouse; 1/2 – 3/4 inch for a rat).
- May notice the corners of cereal boxes and other food containers have holes and chew marks.
- May notice other objects in the house have been chewed with scattered fragments on the floor.
Due to the fact that their droppings may carry disease, be sure to wash any surfaces with a good disinfectant, especially where food is prepared or eaten. Also, be sure to clean the floors, especially near where food is eaten and crumbs have been dropped.
It is important that you recognize these signs and start taking measures to control the rats/mice. Mice/rats carry diseases and are very dirty. If you have small children, you do not want them crawling on or eating mouse droppings.
The most effective rodent repellant method is cleanliness. Most rodents are scavengers and will consume any food available to them. After locating a secure food source, rodents will nest within close proximity and populations will grow at rapid rates. It is important to store trash in tightly sealed containers and dispose of garbage regularly. Coordinated efforts with neighbors will help to further prevent rodent infestations.
The most successful and long lasting form of rodent control in buildings is to exclude them. Seal cracks and openings in building foundations, and any openings for plumbing, electrical wires, sewer pipes, drain spouts and vents. Holes larger than 1/4 inches should be sealed to exclude both rats and mice (an average rat can gain entry into structures through an opening through an opening only 3/4 of an inch wide, while a mouse can enter through a 1/4 inch opening). Make sure doors, windows and screens fit tightly – their edges can be covered with sheet metal if gnawing is a problem. Coarse steel wool, wire screen and lightweight sheet metal are excellent materials for closing gaps and holes. Plastic sheeting, wood, caulking and other less sturdy materials are likely to be gnawed away. Since rats and mice are excellent climbers, openings above ground level must also be closed.
Preventative Rodent Management
Repellants may be used to deter rodent populations. Both natural and chemical-based repellents are commercially available and vary in effectiveness. Sound-based repellents are capable of emitting sound at a register too high for humans to recognize. These sounds are disconcerting for rodents and tend to prevent them from infesting the area around them. However, sound-based repellents may bother other animals, such as companion animals.
The most rapid and effective rat and mice or rodent control methods are those administered by trained pest control professionals. Contact a Pest Management, Inc. expert to discuss control options.