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How to Mouse and Rat-proof Your Home

There’s nothing more alarming than hearing a squeaking coming from nearby just as you’re drifting off to sleep or finding one running across your kitchen floor! No matter how cute they’re drawn in cartoons, no one likes to find out they’ve got mice or rats nesting in their home or a commercial building.

Some people would disagree and say these rodents are actually clean and friendly, and in some cases they’re right. However, wild rodents found in the home are a completely different story from the cute ones you can find at your local pet store, and rodents are a no-go no matter which commercial building you walk into.

Winter is especially rodent season on the mainland and in the Vancouver area. Just like us, mice and rats usually want to get together to be with family (’tis the season, after all), but that means your compost and garbage could be their next Christmas dinner.

Isn’t that a lovely thought?

The good news is, there are ways you can actually prevent your home or where you work from being infested in the first place. You can start rodent-proofing your place with the following steps.

Step 1: Investigate

No infestation will be resolved if you don’t know where the mice or rats are coming from in the first place. Look for the following telltale signs of these varmints:

  • Droppings (feces)
  • Food that looks like it’s been nibbled on
  • Crumbs or pieces of garbage or compost hanging out where it shouldn’t be; usually if it’s scattered all over the ground that’s a dead giveaway!
  • Holes in your garbage bag where there wasn’t any before
  • Any baseboards, holes in the walls, ventilation, or nooks and crannies that appear to have been chewed at

Usually if these signs are happening, it’s likely the infestation is actually a big one:

  • Squeaking in the ceiling or walls
  • Rustling in said areas
  • Loud chewing noises
  • The aforementioned signs have been seen but not addressed for 2-3 weeks (this one’s a biggie)

Step 2: Prevention

Rats and mice will make their nest by the nearest food, water, or items that provide them with shelter. Cutting them off from these sources is the only way to prevent them from infesting your home or building. Here are the best ways to keep any varmints out and away from where you live or work:

  • Seal any potential entryways that you suspect they can get into. This includes your gutter drains, pipes, windows, doorways—yes, even the front door! Anywhere in your building’s exterior where you think a rodent could slip inside, that area should be sealed up at once. Cover any and all holes you can find securely with wired mesh or a screen (preferably one they can’t chew through!).
  • Tidy up your cupboards and make sure all food and items inside them are sealed tight.
  • Don’t be a litterbug. Seriously, rodents love food as much as we do! They can’t cook like Remy from Ratatouille can, but their love of food extends to the trash we leave behind. This importance should also be put into practice by keeping the outside and inside of where you work and live clean and tidy.
  • Keep your green waste bins and garbage cans sealed up with tight lids, day and night. Move the bins to your garage if you have the space. Leaving any bins open is like ringing the dinner bell for rodents.
  • Don’t leave food out in the open where you eat. Not only does this make you look like a terrible person (why would you want to waste a perfectly good lunch?!), it’s basically a free promotion to your kitchen being rodent-friendly. Who needs Facebook when you can smell the free food from miles away?
  • Call for help if you even remotely suspect there’s a rodent problem. In some cases, it never hurts to be hyper aware of potential rodent issues (especially if you smell or hear anything that shouldn’t be there—smell especially is a big red flag that there’s a problem or infestation!).

If you see any of the signs mentioned in step one and want to try trapping the rodents yourself, move on to the next step.

Step 3: Traps

Depending on how serious the infestation is, traps can either help or not help you out with your rodent problem. If it’s just the one rodent you’ve identified, you can try trapping them.

When it comes to baiting the trap, don’t use fresh cheese—it not only dries out too quickly but it’s a perfectly good waste of it! If, however, you have moldy cheese that’s been in the fridge too long, that will work better. The smell of stinky cheese is way more appetizing to rodents than the fresh kind (save the latter cheese for your next sandwich!).

If you want to trap the rodents and the moldy cheese isn’t working or it’s too stinky for you to handle, these are the top foods and items they are attracted to:

  • Peanut butter (both rats and mice LOVE this)
  • Overripe fruit and vegetables
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Nuts
  • Fish (in case of rats)
  • Cotton or string (in case of mice)
  • Pet food, particularly the wet kind

The stronger the smell of the bait, the more likely the rodent will show up.

Do NOT add poison to the trap! If a rat or mouse is poisoned and they manage to avoid the trap, it could retreat into a part of the building where you can’t reach, die a slow death, and leave behind a stinky corpse.

As for the type of trap, there is a large variety of sizes and types to choose from aside from the classic wooden board with a spring. You can find traps at your local hardware store or online.

Step 4: Removal

If you’re not a fan of killing animals and want them out of your home or building humanely, there are a few precautions you can take.

  • Follow our advice in step two as far as baiting the trap goes.
  • Once the rat or mouse is trapped, remove them from the building and take them out to an open area.
  • Choose a trap that is large enough for them to sneak into.
  • Do not use sticky tack paper! This can injure the rodent if you want to take the more humane approach to rodent control.

People talk about cats being a big help with rodent removal (given that they’re natural enemies, this makes sense), however there are some cats who are as afraid of rodents as you are! Owning a cat, as cute as they can be, is not a fail-proof solution or a good long-term one.

When to Call a Professional

The number of rodents who have made their nest where they shouldn’t be will determine how serious the infestation is. If you’ve found only one to two rodents and dealt with them via the trap and prevention tips, and then haven’t had problems since, then it’s okay. However, if you still find evidence of them after a few weeks, it’s time to call in a professional.

It’s also a good idea to get help if you’ve already had a pest control company come in and try to mouse and/or rat-proof the place, only to discover that more rodents have found their way in despite these precautions. That means whoever you called in didn’t do that good of a job. If the wires and mesh they used to block off the holes from the rodents look loose, that’s a simple fix but really, it should be done right in the first place!

Obviously, these are all preventive solutions and if you’re doing them after the fact of discovering a full-blown infestation, this article isn’t going to help. You need a professional to get those varmints! If that’s the case, call your local Pest Boss.

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