Mice & Rats
Sometimes rats and mice get indoors, creating a nuisance. They damage property, contaminate food, and transmit diseases like salmonellosis and trichonosis. They cause between $500 million to $1 billion a year in damage in the United States. Some 20 percent of fires of unknown origin are thought to be caused by rodents gnawing through electrical wiring. Therefore, effective control methods are essential.
The keys to a successful program of rodent control are identification sanitation, elimination of harborage, and rodent-proofing.
- In the fall and winter, mice may enter houses, garages, and outbuilding. Once inside, they can cause significant damage to furnishings and stored materials as they search for food and construct their nests.
- The deer mouse is the principle rodent species associated with the transmission of the hantavirus.
- Micro droplets of mouse urine can cause allergies in children. Mice can also bring fleas, termites, ticks and lice into your home.
- House mice can easily squeeze through holes and gaps wider than 1/4-inch. Rats can enter buildings through 1/2-inch gaps.
- Rats are associated with various diseases and occasionally bite. Leptospirosis is a disease acquired by eating food or drinking water which may be contaminated with infected rat urine.
Rodent Control: A Guide for Property Owners & Residents
Exclusion is a critical aspect of rodent control. Seal holes with a strong chew-resistant material anywhere mice can enter the building or enter a room. Metal and other strong materials are longer lasting. Particular attention should be paid to any hole which accommodates the diameter of a pencil. Gaps must be smaller than 1/4-inch to prevent mouse entry. Vents may need screening, pipe entries (radiator pipes) may require sealing, and doors may need doorsweeps installed.
Keep all food (including pet food) in tight fitting and secure containers to deter mice and rats. Do not assume that putting food high off the ground will keep it safe. Mice and rats can climb very well and can certainly reach food high up on shelves.
Other Important Tips
- Store garbage in metal or heavy plastic containers with tight lids.
- Place trash outside shortly before pickup. Do not leave plastic garbage bags outside overnight.
- Remove weeds and debris near buildings and in yards. Do not provide hiding places for rodents.
- Sweep up food remains, litter, and trash, inside and outside your home.
- Choose plants that do not produce large amounts of fruit and seed. Clean up fallen fruit and seed regularly.
- Store materials such as lumber and boxes on a rack with a clean, open area underneath. Get rid of unused material.