Mice & Rats

Protect Your Home or Business from Rodents

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 for rats and mice are essential.

Picture of Two House Mice
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Successful Rodent Control

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. Mice can squeeze through a hole the size of a nickel, and rats can squeeze through a hole the size of a half dollar! 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.

Prevent Rodents

Where to look for gaps or holes inside your home

  • Inside, under, and behind kitchen cabinets, refrigerators, and stoves.
  • Inside closets near the floor corners.
  • Around the fireplace.
  • Around doors.
  • Around the pipes under sinks and washing machines.
  • Around the pipes going to hot water heaters and furnaces.
  • Around floor vents and dryer vents.
  • Inside the attic.
  • In the basement or crawl space.
  • In the basement and laundry room floor drains.
  • Between the floor and wall juncture.

Where to look for gaps or holes outside your home

  • In the roof among the rafters, gables, and eaves.
  • Around windows.
  • Around doors.
  • Around the foundation.
  • Attic vents and crawl space vents.
  • Under doors.
  • Around holes for electrical, plumbing, cable, and gas lines.

What to Do

Fill small holes with steel or copper wool. Put caulk around the steel or copper wool to keep it in place. Use lath screen or lath metal, cement, hardware cloth, or metal sheeting to fix large holes. These materials can be found at your local hardware store.

Fix gaps in trailer skirting's and use flashing around the base of the house. If you do not remember to seal up entry holes in your home, rodents will continue to get inside. Outbuildings and garages should also be sealed to prevent the entrance of rodents.

Keep doors closed at all times when not in actual use. Avoid storing fire wood and outside equipment next to building walls. Regrade the ground around the foundation to allow for at least 24 inches of foundation to show. Remove unused pet food and spilled bird seed.

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.

Need Help with Pests?
Contact Waltham Services Now!

Rats on the Riverwalk

(Waltham, MA-July 19, 2010) - Recently the Daily News Tribune, Waltham MA, released an article of the ongoing battle to exile rats from Waltham’s Riverwalk. Our own Richard Berman, technical manager, is quoted several times, offering useful suggestions to help alleviate the Riverwalk’s problem as well as explaining why there is a problem in the first place.