It is important for a home owner to be certain that they are dealing with mice and not rats. One can identify a mouse from a rat by examining the droppings the rodent leaves behind. Mouse droppings are very small, usually 1/8" to 1/4" in size and somewhat oval in shape. If the droppings are a 1/2" or larger, than a home owner may be dealing with rats, which is a whole different ball game when it comes to the possible damage the rodent can do to one's house and the appropriate treatment to elinunate the problem.
2. Trapping and Baiting:
It is often said that when mice eat bait they get thirsty and go outside for water and then die there. However, that is a misconception. Mice, and all rodents, will die wherever it is that they are nesting because rodents often bring their food back to their nest. If a nest is in a wall or between floors then it can create a bad odor problem making it unpleasant to be in one's home. Baiting, however, is not all bad, if one needs to eliminate rodents from a shed or a barn then baiting is extremely efficient and effective. Baiting is ideal for outdoor situations because it is easier to lure the mouse out to get the bait and have it bring it back to its nest where it will then eat it and die there. The odor of the dead rodent will not be as potent because it is outside in the open. However, if mice are in a house then trapping is the only way to get them out with the least amount of problems. It usually takes between thirty (30) and fifty (50) traps to adequately trap out a mouse infestation. The best places to set traps are in the crawlspace, attic and garage. These three areas will cover approximately 99% of rodent nesting areas. Home owners should sparingly set traps inside the home. While some mice will nest behind a refrigerator, dishwasher or under the kitchen sink, it is best not to set lots of traps in the home because one does not want to draw all the mice up in to the house from the crawlspace or down from the attic. When a home owner puts out traps it is best to use peanut butter for bait. Peanut butter easily stays on the trap and mice can smell it from a long distance away. Traps must be checked every four (4) days until mice are no longer being caught. When mice are no longer being caught one can remove the traps from the area.
3. Point of Entry and Rodent Build Out:
One of the main advantages of trapping for mice in a crawlspace is that one is able to locate the rodent's points of entry. As one positions the traps along the walls and the ducting they can locate if there is a break in a crawlspace vent, a gap around a pipe or wire that leads in to the crawlspace, or even a tunnel made by the rodents that may go rmder the formdation. These areas are important to identify and examine in order to seal up and eliminate more mice from coming in.
Once all points of entry have been identified it is time to seal or repair the areas to prevent other mice from gaining entry. It is very important to seal all of the entry areas because mice lay down an oil and urine trail that attracts new mice, and these new mice will follow the trail where ever it goes. A home owner could eliminate every mouse in a structure, but if entry points are not sealed, then a month later the home owner will find themselves with mice in the house again.
4. Eliminating Food Sources:
Bird feeders are one of the largest causes of mice infestations in the Pacific Northwest. Most of these feeders hang in yards on tree limbs or on fences and as the birds land on them, they kick down a lot of seeds. This spillage is what attracts both mice and rats. A home owner should instead use suet blocks where the feed is pressed on to the suet. Other sources of food for rodents are pet foods that are stored in garages and grass seed stored in sheds. These items need to be secured in metal, not plastic, containers with tight fitting lids.
5. Clean Up:
Nothing is worse than having mice droppings all throughout your drawers and kitchen cabinets. So, once all of the mice have been trapped out, rodent entry areas sealed, and food sources eliminated, it is time for clean up. A mild bleach and water solution will disinfect all areas and most kitchen cleaners will work well too. If a home owner removes all items from their drawers or cabinets and wipes down the area with the cleaner, and also wipes down or washes any items that will return to these drawers or cabinets then most if not all of the contamination will be removed.
Anyone can be a target for rodent infestation in their home. While it is often best to call a pest control professional to fully eliminate any rodent problem, a home owner can follow these five (5) basic steps to help keep their family and home safe and rodent free. Good Luck!