The best way to control rodents is to keep them out of the home in the first place. Since rodents like to hide in vegetation, your first line of defense is to trim the vegetation close to your home. |
If possible, reduce the amount of mouse habitat outside your home to reduce the number of mice inside your home. Trim trees and shrubs away from the home. Clean up debris, brush piles, and other hiding spots where mice may take cover. Keep your compost bin(s) as tidy as possible. Clean yards deny rodents the food and shelter they need for breeding, and they restrict a young rodent's ability to move in. Piles of grass clippings or tree trimmings make ideal rodent harborages, so properly store and dispose of these materials. Try to leave a couple of feet of clear space between your house and any vegetation. Rodents also like to hide under woodpiles or lumber; in abandoned cars, appliances and furniture; and under trashcans. So remove and properly dispose of all junk. Store any lumber or wood on racks at least 6-inches off the ground, and away from the house exterior. Store your trash and garbage cans on racks too, or else on a concrete pad.
Check your house perimeter annually in late summer or early fall to assure there are no gaps that could be used for entry. Remember that a pencil-sized opening is sufficient for mouse entry. Pay special attention to pipes, wiring, conduits, cables, doors, and windows. Even where buried utility piping enters, the foundation must be effectively sealed. At night, have someone shine a light along the interior of your basement or crawl space walls while you circle the perimeter of the house on the outside. Potential entrance holes or other flaws you may not be aware of will show up under the light. Close any openings found, using sheet metal, hardware cloth, or wire mesh. Pieces of tin cut from coffee cans make great patches. Caulking will not do the job. Screen necessary openings, like fans and chimneys with ¼-inch wire mesh. Wire mesh greater than ¼-inch won't work. Replace missing bricks. Fill in any burrows under the foundation with concrete.
Attached garages are serious weak points, because garage doors rarely fit as closely as other doors. Once a rodent has made it into an attached garage, the rest of the house is easy pickings. Therefore, to make the garage less attractive, store your trash and garbage somewhere else. But if you must store it there, be especially careful to use containers in good condition with tight-fitting lids. Never leave plastic trash bags in an attached garage. Again, shine a light along the perimeter of your garage door at night to see if it offers easy entry. Check the doors of attached garages more often than once a year.
Windows and exterior doors should fit properly, be weather-stripped, and be kept closed when not in use. There should be no holes in screen doors. Screens are easy to patch. All window and door edges subject to gnawing should be covered with metal.
Even water puddles will give rodents all the water they need to drink. So all leaks must be fixed, and all ruts and depressional areas must be drained or filled in. Keep all guttering clean so water doesn't stand. Make sure your window air conditioner isn't creating a puddle. Cover swimming pools and hot tubs. Drain birdbaths and ornamental ponds. Water hoses are notorious for leaking at the connections; so when you're finished using the hose shut the water off at the spigot, rather than at the hose nozzle. Cease lawn sprinkling for the duration of the infestation.
Outside food sources that attract rodents include garbage, dog and cat food, dog feces, birdseed, and fruits or berries that have fallen to the ground. Take away their sources of food outside, and rodents will look for another neighborhood to live. Pick up fruit and vegetables in your yard. A honeycomb can feed hundreds of mice all winter, so carefully remove any beehives in the immediate area. Birds are messy eaters, which is especially helpful to rodents. So quit feeding the birds for the duration of the infestation. If you're feeding the squirrels; you're also feeding rodents. If at all possible, feed your pets indoors. If you must feed your pets outside, remove their food 30 minutes after serving. Otherwise, whatever your pet doesn't eat, rodents will. Since rats are nocturnal, feed your outdoor pet well before dark.
Store your garbage in containers preferably made of metal, with tight fitting lids. Never leave plastic trash bags outside. Turn compost piles regularly and don't compost meat, bones, dairy waste, fats, or oils. Remove dog feces from the yard daily
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