Tuesday, 19 November 2019

A guide to dealing with rats and mice in the home

Let’s face it, no one wants rats or mice anywhere near there homes let alone inside but these little creatures do have a habit of thriving close to humans. In their own right mice and rats are not horrible, they are certainly not going to harm us directly but that doesn’t mean we like them sitting on the sofa next to us. 

Rats can carry a lot of different diseases and mice can do a lot of damage. But how do we know we have a problem? What do we do if we find something?

What are the signs that you have unwelcome visitors?

If you think you may have unwanted guests, but haven't seen any signs of mice or rats directly, this may be down to the twilight hours they keep. Key indications that should make you suspicious that rodents are present in your home can include the following:

·        Droppings or brown marks - mice leave small brown rice shaped poo. Rats leave slightly larger “droppings” that is more rounded at the ends. Rodents have high metabolic rates and produce a lot of waste so you may well find evidence if you search. However, these may need to be sought out, in dark corners or the back of cupboards.

·        Damage to property - gnaw marks, holes, scratches, etc. In addition to areas they may get in or out, be careful and check wiring around the house or in the loft.

·        The sounds of scampering feet, especially at night - if you have rodents in your loft you may hear them amplified from the bedroom.

       Musky urine smells - rodents will often scent-mark pathways.

·         Signs of nesting such as shredded paper or other materials, even plastic bags.

·         Foot prints or grease marks from their bodies.

It's good to act quickly if you think you have a problem, to stop it becoming an infestation and to minimise health risks. There will be local experts wherever you are in the country but check reviews and make sure you look for companies with a lot of experience. London experts Empire Pest Control are a good example of an established company that will give you the correct advice. As with most things there are good and bad people out there so do some research…no matter how panicked you are about a mouse in the house!

When are you most likely to find them?

Rodents can come into a home at any time, especially if access is easy or there is food available. However, they are particularly likely to seek shelter in the colder months. Once they are in, if they make themselves at home the problem can grow. Mice have 6-10 litters every year of 5-6 pups and rats have around 6 litters of 8-12 offspring.

Why it's a problem
Rodents can spread parasites, germs and diseases like weil’s disease, for example. They can contaminate your food surfaces, nibble on your food supplies without you knowing and crawl through your clothes and possessions. They also often gnaw through electrical wires. It's a good idea, for a number of safety reasons, to have your electrics maintained with good circuit breaking and override systems, but this is especially so if you believe rodents might be chomping on them.

What to do if you suspect a rodent problem
Undertake a thorough investigation. It's good to know exactly what rodent is causing the problem, so that you can undertake the most effective treatment. It's also good to understand their behaviour and to be clear on all the areas that they are hanging out, bearing in mind it could be in the walls, floors or lofts.

You need to identify holes and routes in and about, both inside and outside. Be aware that rats and mice can squeeze their bodies through very small holes. In garages and outside areas look at the doorframes, pipe joints and where pipes enter the house as well as vents and outlets. If necessary you can fit meshes or guards to prevent re-entry.

Clean up thoroughly. Use gloves and disinfect any areas you know they have been.
Ensure you leave no food or water sources available to them - they will seek out any morsels or pet food left lying around.

Consider your bins and compost outside too, and that they are not drawing rodents towards the house. Maintain bushes and shrubs near the house and keep them well trimmed.

Rodent Removals

Of course, it's not just identification and prevention. You also need a method to remove the creatures who have settled in. Traps are often used inside, so that they can be checked and disposed off. Bait or poison is the other method, but you need to avoid a situation where a rodent consumes this and then creeps off into an inaccessible crevice to die. A decomposing rat is a foul smell and a hygiene issue. It is also critical to be very careful when using poison if you have dogs or cats, in fact, it is generally best to avoid this unless you have areas they cannot get too.

It's not just a question of removing the problem. You need to be entirely sure that you are eliminating the chances of the problem re-occurring. And of course, using traps and poisons means you may have to deal with the physical disposal yourself.

Ultimately the key is as always, not to panic and once you are sure you have an issue to call for help or get some traps and poison.

Be swift and thorough and if you can't manage the problem alone, get help before it expands!

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