Every year service calls regarding rats and mice increase. It seems that our rodent population in western Washington is growing steadily. There are many reasons for the growth in rodent populations including urban sprawl, weather factors, and extensive feeding of wildlife by humans. 

Whatever the reason, if you find they’ve entered your home or business, it can be traumatizing. After all, they have the potential to spread several diseases, spoil food, cause plumbing leaks, and increase the risk of fires by chewing on wiring. Additionally, they leave urine and droppings behind them (50-100 droppings per day) that can attract more rodents later.

As outside temperatures cool, calls to our office regarding rat and mouse problems increase. Looking to escape harsh weather conditions outside, they move inside to hide in attics, crawl spaces, or other protected areas. Here are some simple dos and don’ts if you suspect a rodent problem at your home or business:

Do…keep vegetation away from buildings. Tree branches touching the roof present a welcome mat to roof rats wanting to gain entrance to an attic. Thick shrubbery touching the building provides hiding places and conceals entry points for Norway rats, Roof rats, and mice.

Do…pick up after dogs. Dog droppings often contain a lot of undigested material that rats and mice can easily feed on.

Do…keep tight-fitting lids on garbage cans or dumpsters. Refuse provides plenty of food for rats and mice, as well as opossums, raccoons, and other wildlife.

Do…seal gaps and holes on the exterior larger than ¼”. Mice can enter gaps as little as ¼”. Rats can enter gaps as little as ½”.

Don’t…put over-the counter poison bait everywhere. Rodents can die from bait inside and produce terrible odors for weeks as they decompose. A fly problem can also result from maggots that consume the carcass. The idea that rodents eat the poison and then leave the building in search of water is false.

Don’t…install ultrasonic devices that supposedly repel rodents. These have been shown to be mostly ineffective when put into practical use.

Don’t…rely on glue boards for good control. They’re cheap, easy to place, and we even occasionally use them as one tool out of many in our arsenal. A major drawback of glue boards, however, is they tend to catch only juveniles. Adults avoid them, escape them, or drag them away. Therefore, they can’t be used alone but only as part of an overall strategy.

Although it is tempting to turn to quick fixes to alleviate a rodent problem, it is far better to consult with a professional to devise a long-term plan that not only gets rid of them now, but also helps to keep them out of your home in the future.

Our long-term plan:

1) Inspect the building for active and potential access points. We often can identify access points and other conducive conditions that homeowners or property managers overlook. We offer both repair and cleaning services for areas that rodents have lived in. Call our office for details.

2) Set up snap traps to eliminate the existing infestation in the building and make weekly visits to remove bodies and re-set traps.

3) Apply bait outdoors conscientiously as needed. We’ll set out bait in tamper resistant boxes around the exterior of the building to help lower the population of rodents outside. This helps to lower the risk of another rodent invasion if new access points develop. The protective boxes keep the bait palatable to the rodents while keeping any pets or other non-target animals out. If you choose to go on a long-term maintenance program, the building is under warranty against rodent invasion.

Rodents are a serious threat to health and property and should never be taken lightly. The solution and prevention of infestations should be developed and overseen by a pest management professional. If rats and mice are a problem for you, call us—we’re here to help.