Ask a Tech: Keeping Rodents Out of the Home
August 22, 2019
Of all nuisance wildlife that infest homes and properties, mice and rats are probably the most common, and while they might not seem like the biggest deal, rodents can cause some pretty serious damage to a home--not to mention the health risks they posed. We thought it would be valuable to talk to one of our techs about rodents and have them give some general information on rodents as well as provide some pointers and tips for rodent prevention, and, if necessary, removal.
On the Signs of a Rodent Infestation:
Mice and rat infestations can sometimes sneak up on you, because both mice and rodents are skittish creatures, and they’re very adept at hiding in hard to find places. With that said, even if you don’t see a rodent with your own eyes, they certainly leave visible- and smellable- signs that should set off alarms in your head. Typically, rodents are going to go after your food in some fashion, so be on the lookout for droppings in kitchens and pantries, particularly in enclosed spaces like your cupboards and drawers, or underneath your sink. Also do a quick inspection of your food packaging; any chewed up packaging can be a big-time indicator that rodents are raiding your food cabinet.
Also, a visual sweep of your walls and floors for chewed out holes can be a solid way to verify suspicions of a rodent presence. Mice and rats sometimes get into homes by literally chewing their way in, so any signs of a chewed-out entry hole are red flags. Look for shredded up material, like paper or fabric, too; that’s what rodents will use to build their nests. Don’t just use your eyes to assess the situation; use your nose too! Rodents have a sort of stale, unpleasant smell, and mice in particular have a very strong and distinct urine odor that I would compare to ammonia. If your eyes and your nose are telling you rodents have made their way into your home, chances are they have.
On Where Rodents Like to Hide:
Rodents will pretty much nest anywhere that they find an opening; like I said before, they’re really good at hiding, and they want to hide as close to their food source as they safely can. In this case, their food source is, well, your food. I’ve seen rodents nests that are set up in the walls right behind or underneath the food cabinets, or right nearby under or behind kitchen appliances-- basically anywhere in a kitchen where there’s enough space for them, and where they can feel safe is at risk to become a hole to build their nest in.
A cluttered garage or attic is also a spot that rodents will be attracted to, because it provides them with a lot of cover, and a lot of options. Cardboard boxes are particularly appealing to rodents, because for one it’s an enclosed space, and they can also use the box itself as some of the material for a nest; if you’ve got a bunch of cardboard boxes in an attic or garage, don’t be surprised if one day a mouse or rat nest ends up in there. If they aren’t huddled up right near your food, rodents like to take up residence near a heat source, especially in the cold months, so secluded spots near a hot water heater or boiler are also a pretty common spot you can find them. If you have a garden that’s also a common spot to find rodents when the weather is warm; a garden is a little less risky for a rodent than an indoor nesting spot, or at least less scary for them because there’s less consistent human activity, and to a rodent your garden is basically an all you can eat buffet.
On Preventing Rodents from Getting into the Home:
In my experience, there are three prominent ways that you can prevent rodents from getting into the home. The number one thing that I’d recommend to someone who isn’t a professional is keeping things clean, particularly when it comes to food waste and nesting materials in your yard. You don’t want to have big piles of mulch or leaf piles sitting around for too long out on your lawn; these are great materials for rodents to build a nest with, and if they see that your yard is full of nesting material, they’re going to come running. Accessible food and food waste are also going to be appealing to a crew of rodents.
Step one is making sure all your food is stored in a secure place, and that everything is sealed. Step two is making sure you’re not leaving food out overnight--that means not leaving dirty plates in the sink until morning. Step three is always keeping your trash in a secure container; don’t pile trash outside near the trash can--make sure it’s in the container and the container is closed and secure. No holes or gaps where a rodent could sneak in!
The other two methods for rodent prevention, sealing entry points and setting traps, is usually where A-1 Pest Control comes in. I’ve seen people try to do this part on their own, with varying levels of success, but the reality is that we techs at A-1 Pest Control have a ton of experience --we know what’s what. If you don’t have experience creating an effective treatment plan for rodents, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll end up missing an entry point or not filling it correctly, or planting mouse traps in the wrong places. Consulting with a professional is going to be your best bet.
On the Typical Removal Process:
When I get a call or notification about a rodent problem, I’ll head over to the location and do a thorough sweep so that I can determine the severity of the rodent presence and identify the type of rodent that’s causing trouble, where they’re getting in, and what’s attracting them to the property. Once I’ve got that worked out, I will develop a plan for getting rid of the rodents. Part of that plan might include consulting with the customer on what they can do in the home or on the property to stop attracting mice or rats. Once the plan is all worked out, I’ll head back to the affected area and deploy it, which typically involves setting mechanical traps and sealing up any and all points of entry. I’ll do a follow-up visit a few weeks after treatment to make sure the rodents are gone for good--and they usually are. It sounds simple enough, but here at A-1 Pest Control we’ve found this service is super effective, so we stick to it!