Nearly all domestic properties will be visited by mice and rats at some time or another. If they are dealt with quickly there should not be a serious problem. However, if they become a lasting presence in a property, they are a danger to health and to the house, so it’s important to act quickly.
Rats are much bigger than mice, and so are their droppings, so it is easy to know which is which. Mice droppings are about 1/4 inch (6mm) long, smaller than a grain of rice, and rat droppings are about three times the size, 3/4 inch (19mm) long. The droppings are dark brown in colour and will be seen on floors and work surfaces, as well as in cupboards.
Aside from the droppings, you will see plenty of evidence of the rodents. They chew everything; cereal boxes and plastic bags containing food as well as woodwork, pipework and insulation. They are likely to be living in any inaccessible space, such as inside walls, under floors, in sheds or garages. Often you will be able to hear them moving about.
Rodents are attracted by easily available food sources such as pet food and kitchen waste. Kitchen compost should be kept away from the house and treated with lime to speed up decomposition. Garbage needs to be kept in a sealed metal container with a lid, and pet food must be cleared away after feeding.
Mice and rats can spread disease, as a result of a bite, by contact with their droppings, or via ticks and fleas. Food should not be prepared on surfaces they have walked on unless it has been thoroughly disinfected, and any food they may have touched should be thrown away.
Rats and mice breed frequently, so their numbers will increase rapidly if unchecked. They can damage your house by chewing through insulation and electrical cables. They can even gnaw through walls and ceilings.
Although rodents may be deterred by hygiene measures, and ultra-sonic repellers can have an initial positive effect, to end an infestation the rats and mice must be killed. Traps are the most effective way to get rid of rodents. Bait spring-loaded traps with dried fruit, peanut butter mixed with oats, or cheese. Make sure the bait is securely attached to the trigger, and set the trap across the path of the rodents, with the bait side next to the wall.
Take care when throwing away dead mice and rats. Handle them only with gloves, and seal them in two plastic bags. The corpses can be buried in a hole over half a metre deep, or it may be permissible to put them in with domestic rubbish. Clean traps with a weak bleach solution.
Rats and mice have caused difficulties for humans since prehistoric times, and it is important to tackle the problem head on. However, infestations can be eliminated, and persistence will pay off. If you are unable to get rid of rodents using traps, consider contacting your local authority, or calling in a licensed company
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