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Seal up, trap up, and clean up!
Follow these guidelines to prevent rodents in your home, sheds, out buildings and garages.
Diseases from Rodents
Rats and mice spread over 35 diseases, worldwide. Rodentborne diseases are spread directly to humans through bite wounds, consuming food or water contaminated with rodent feces, coming in contact with surface water contaminated with rodent urine, or through breathing in germs present in rodent urine or droppings stirred into the air (a process known as “aerosolization”). Diseases from rodents are also spread indirectly to humans by way of ticks, mites, and fleas that transmit infection to humans after feeding on infected rodents. In some cases, the rodents are the reservoirs (carriers) of the diseases, while in other cases the ticks, mites, or fleas act as the disease reservoirs.
*Information provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Department of Human and Health Services.
Seal up holes inside and outside the home to prevent entry by rodents. Mice can squeeze through a hole the size of a nickel, and rats can squeeze through a hole the size of a half dollar!
Where to look for gaps or holes inside your home:
- Inside, under and behind kitchen cabinets and appliances.
- Inside closets near the floor corners.
- Around the fireplace.
- Around doors.
- Around the pipes under sinks and washing machines.
- Around the pipes going to hot water heaters and furnaces.
- Around floor vents and dryer vents.
- Inside the attic.
- In the basement or crawl space.
- In the basement and laundry room floor drains.
- Between the floor and wall juncture.
Where to look for gaps or holes outside your home:
- In the roof among the rafters, gables, and eaves.
- Around windows.
- Around doors.
- Around the foundation.
- Attic vents and crawl space vents.
- Under doors.
- Around holes for electrical, plumbing, cable, and gas lines.
Fill small holes with steel wool. Put caulk around the steel wool to keep it in place. Use lath screen or lath metal, cement, hardware cloth, or metal sheeting to fix large holes. These materials can be found at your local hardware store. Fix gaps in trailer skirting and use flashing around the base of the house. If you do not seal up entry holes in your home, rodents will continue to get inside. Seal outbuildings and garages to prevent the entrance of rodents.
Trap rodents around the home to help reduce the rodent population. Choose an appropriate snap trap. Traps for catching mice are different from those for catching rats. Carefully read the instructions before setting the trap.
When setting the trap, place a small amount of peanut butter (approximately the size of a pea) on the bait pan of the snap trap. Position the bait end of the trap next to the wall so it forms a "T" with the wall. Rodents prefer to run next to walls or other objects for safety and do not like being out in the open.
Set traps in any area where there is evidence of frequent rodent activity. Some rodents, particularly rats, are very cautious and several days may pass before they approach the traps. Other rodents, like house mice and deer mice, are less cautious and may be trapped more quickly.
We do not recommend using glue traps or live traps. These traps can scare mice and cause them to urinate. Since their urine may contain germs, this may increase your risk of being exposed to diseases.
If you trap inside your home, but do not seal up rodent entry holes, new rodents will enter the dwelling.
Prevent contact with rodents by cleaning up your home and workplace.
Follow these steps if you are cleaning up places in your home where rodents have fed, left droppings or nested:
- Air out the building/room for at least one hour by opening windows and doors.
- Leave the building/room while it is airing out.
- Wear latex or rubber gloves and a dust mask.
- Mix a solution of 1 cup bleach to 10 cups water or use another disinfectant solution.
- Do not vacuum, sweep or dust. This may spread the bacteria through the air. Use rags, sponges and mops that have been soaked in the disinfectant solution.
- Thoroughly spray or soak any dead rodents, droppings or nesting areas with disinfectant solution.
- Wipe down countertops, cabinets and drawers. Mop floors and baseboards.
- Steam clean carpets, rugs and upholstered furniture.
- Wash clothes and bedding in hot water and detergent. Set the dryer on high.
- To dispose of contaminated items, including dead rodents, put them in a plastic bag. Seal the bag and put it in another plastic bag. Seal the outer bag and put it in your outdoor garbage can.
- Disinfect or throw away the gloves you used.
- When you are done, wash your hands and/or shower with soap and hot water.
Eliminate possible rodent food sources:
- Keep food in thick plastic or metal containers with tight lids.
- Clean up spilled food right away and wash dishes and cooking utensils soon after use.
- Keep outside cooking areas and grills clean.
- Always put pet food away after use and do not leave pet-food or water bowls out overnight. Keep bird feeders away from the house and utilize squirrel guards to limit access to the feeder by squirrels and other rodents.
- Use a thick plastic or metal garbage can with a tight lid.
- Keep compost bins as far away from the house as possible (100 feet or more is best).
- Keep grains and animal feed in thick plastic or metal containers with tight lids. In the evening, uneaten animal feed should be returned to containers with lids.
- Store trash and food waste inside the home in rodent-proof containers. Clean the containers with soap and water frequently.
- Dispose of trash and garbage on a frequent and regular basis, and pick up or eliminate clutter.
- Eliminate possible nesting sites outside the home.
- Elevate hay, woodpiles, and garbage cans at least one foot off the ground.
- Move woodpiles far away from the house (100 feet or more is best).
- Get rid of old trucks, cars, and old tires that mice and rats could use as homes.
- Cut grass short and keep shrubbery well trimmed within 100 feet of the home.