RATS & MICE
If you suspect you have a rat infestation, your first impulse might be to close off any openings you suspect the rats may be using to enter and leave your home, or simply scream. Do neither of these; instead, figure out what type of rat is causing the problem, and then use one of the five primary methods of rat combat to rid your home of infestation for good.
There are two main types of rats known for causing infestation in North America – Norway rats and roof rats. Norway rats prefer to nest underground. They dig holes outside of your property around gardens, trees, and other shrubs, as well as against foundations. These holes lead to burrows, which eventually tunnel into your house via pipes, cracks in the encasement around them, or any type of unprotected crawl space. Since Norway rats are fond of the lowest nesting places, they will most often be found in kitchens or bathrooms.
Roof rats prefer just the opposite type of nesting location. Extremely skilled climbers, these rats tend to build their homes in high places, such as cabinets or attics. Scaling any form of material from which your property is constructed poses no problems for these limber rodents. Roof rats climb wood, brick, or stucco siding, then find a small point of entry into your home, such as an exhaust pipe, bathroom vent, or space between the roof and the boards surrounding it. If your house happens to be airtight, these indomitable rodents will chew a hole straight through any material they can.
The location of your house's rodent infestation should provide a strong clue as to what type of rat is responsible. The location of droppings ensures that rats have travelled through the area recently and will do so again. The shape of these leavings can also help to confirm what type of rat is the culprit. Though both types of rat leave waste approximately the size of a black bean, the droppings of Norway rats are smooth and rounded, while those of roof rats have pointy ends.
Once you have determined that you do indeed have a rat infestation, several methods of combat are available to you, including poisons, glueboards, snap traps, live traps, and electrocution. Two main types of poisons are often used to battle rat infestations: rodenticide and liquid bait. Rodenticides are poison baits that seem like attractive foods to rats. Most rodenticides are anticoagulants, which means that they prevent the rat's blood from properly clotting. Once a rat has ingested such an anticoagulant in multiple doses (generally for at least 15 days or until signs of feeding have stopped), any bleeding it undergoes becomes deadly. Since its blood cannot clot, any type of injury that ruptures an artery or vein, such as a cut or internal hemorrhage, causes the rat to bleed to death. Rodenticides should be placed in areas where the rat infestation seems most obvious, but also with caution – make sure that this poison is not in a location where it can be inadvertently consumed by family pets or small children.
Liquid bait is formed of a poisonous concentrate mixed with water, and is ideal for dealing with rat infestations during dry seasons, or in areas where rats have few water sources. Adding a little sugar to the liquid bait should make it even more attractive to rats, who need water daily unless they are somehow feeding on very moist food. Liquid bait containers should be safely enclosed in liquid bait stations (available from commercial suppliers as well as self-constructable) in high places like cabinets or crawlspaces, as well as any other out-of-the-way locale where the target rats will be the only ones to find and ingest it. In both rodenticide and liquid bait station usage, the food and/or water provided needs to be fresh, as rats will not eat food that is stale, dirty, or spoiled in any way. Both types of poison should ideally be placed between the rats' nest and their main food source, if possible.
It is relatively easy to construct as opposed to purchase your own liquid bait container station. These containers can take many forms and be constructed of many different materials, but it is key to design them so that multiple rats can feed at once. A bait station can be formed of a simple flat piece of wood (at least eight inches long to prevent children from gaining access) nailed at an angle to the wall with with the food positioned between the wall and board. Bait stations can also be constructed from pipes, or more elaborate boxes with two holes cut into the sides, equipped with childproof latches for easy checks to make the sure the bait is fresh and still being consumed. Each station should have at least two 2½-inch openings, preferably at opposite ends of the station so that rats looking into one end can see an easy escape route, and thus be more inclined to venture in.
Glueboards and snap traps are somewhat outdated means of dealing with rat infestations, but can still meet with success when the problem is limited to one or two animals. Glueboards are pieces of plastic or wood with non-drying glue spread on top to which the curious rat will become stuck. Glueboards can be bought from commercial suppliers or self-constructed. In order to build your own glueboard, cut a square or rectangular shape from a sturdy substance such as plastic or wood (avoid paper at all costs). Spread a form of non-drying glue (Rodent Bulk Glue is fairly popular) on the board, and place it near a wall or under furniture where rats are likely to travel. The downside of glueboards is that only one can be used per rat, and often, a rat ensnared on such a board will scream with a human-like sound that may not only be hard for human occupants of the house to bear, but also scare other rats away from additional glueboard investigation.
Extended trigger traps are the springloaded, updated version of the snap traps (planks of wood with metal triggers) of yore. They, like glueboards, are best used in cases where only one or two rats are causing a problem. Place the traps as close to the wall as possible in a location the rodents normally frequent. The disadvantage of using trigger traps is that once rats see their own kind dead, which they inevitably will when the traps spring, they will consistently avoid any further traps you set out at all costs.
Live traps are widely considered to be the best modern means of dealing with rat infestations. They are safer and less hazardous than poisons, and enable quick release of a live rodent (or the ability to dispose of one) so that odor does not become a problem. Make sure that you purchase or construct a trap constructed of a 1/2-inch wire grid – no larger – to prevent rats from escaping. This is especially important when dealing with roof rats. Like all of the other rat-trapping methods, live traps should be placed in areas where rats often travel. Since rats are inherently cautious around foreign objects, it would be wise to place the traps unsprung with food inside for at least two weeks in order to give the rats a chance to get accustomed to eating in them. Set a lot of traps during this time to ensure that there are many rats comfortable around them when you actually set the traps, ensuring that many will be trapped at once; when they are sprung, rats will see their own trapped and will completely avoid the traps.
If you yourself want to kill a live rat you have trapped, four methods are the most efficient and popular: freezing, suffocating, drowning, and electrocution. Freezing is one of the most humane options, but also the most lengthy. In order to freeze rat to death, place the trap in which it has been caught into a bag, and then place the bag in a freezer. Be prepared to wait at least several hours, or even overnight, for the rat to fall asleep and die painlessly. Suffocating takes less time, but can still take more than you might expect, as rats are fairly persistent animals. In order to successfully suffocate a rat, you must devise some means of sealing it in an airtight space, which can be tricky. Use your ingenuity, and if nothing seems to be working, attempt one of the three other methods.
Drowning and electrocuting take far less time. In order to drown a rat, place the trap into a bucket of water or submerge it entirely in a nearby pond or stream. The rat should be dead within 15 minutes at most. In order to electrocute, or shock, a rat to death, you must install zappers in areas the rats travel heavily. Zappers are battery-operated electrical devices that contain food attractive to the rat. Once the rat enters the zapper, the latter quickly and humanely delivers enough volts to kill the rodent. A small red light located at the top of any type of zapper will notify you when the job has been successfully completed. Best of all, no direct handling of the carcass is necessary, as you can gently shake the zapper in order to let the rat's body fall into a disposal bag.
Using zappers to electrocute and live traps to ensnare rats alive are the best modern ways to deal with rat infestations, although glueboards, extended trigger traps, rodenticides, and liquid bait are also popular options. By employing any of these methods, you should be able to rid your home of rat infestation in a relatively short period of time.
Having a mouse for an unwanted roommate is never fun. Mice spoil food, make noise at night and leave urine and droppings in places where you prepare food. A mouse infestation can spread diseases in your home and make you sick. The best way to deal with a mouse problem is to nip it in the bud as fast as possible.
If you discover a mouse in your home, you will need to act fast. Mice reproduce in about two and a half to three weeks. One pregnant female will multiply the problem very quickly. Rather than allowing your home to become a safe harbor for mice, take action using these methods.
1) Prepare your home before winter. Mice can fit through tiny spaces, and they love to move indoors once the weather turns cold. You can prepare for a potential mouse invasion by liming points of entry. Block little holes and cracks in your home with steel wool. Unlike many other materials, steel-wool is resistant to mouse teeth.
2) Set up your traps effectively. A trip in the middle of the floor does little good. A trap set up against the wall is much more effective. Did you know that mice don't usually cross to the middle of the floor? They prefer to stick to walls and corners. Whether you use a snap-trap or a no-kill trap, keep it flush against the wall and in the mouse's path. You'll be more likely to catch mice. Peanut butter, bread, and cheese are all highly effective bait.
3) Should you catch a mouse in your no-kill trap, release it far from your home. Mice have a good sense of direction and move fast. Take the mouse with you on a long drive and hike. Some people prefer to release mice in the middle of fields. This increases the chances that a hawk or another predatory bird will catch the mouse. There's something a little more "morally clean" about giving a mouse to a natural food chain than killing it yourself.
4) Get a cat. If you aren't allergic and you don't hate cats, keeping a friendly feline around is a guaranteed way to control mice and other vermin. Bear in mind, a cat might sometimes bring you a "kill". Instead of being grossed out, just be happy that your cat is doing its job.
Even after you've removed mice from your home, you will need to continue to be proactive to avoid future infestations. If mice have invaded your house once, it means more mice are likely to want to move in. Remember, your house is a perfect haven for little rodents: warm, safe from predators and full of food. If you let your guard down, mice can very quickly take over.
You can also take comfort knowing that mice are not the worst infestation you could have. Unlike rats, mice cause no direct harm to humans and aren't a huge health concern if their numbers stay small. A few mice in your house is not a big deal, but you do need to take measures to avoid a full-blown infestation.