There are almost 15 million rodent sightings in homes throughout the United States every year. The problem is so pervasive that the presence of mice and rats is a popular theme in television and film. Everyone knows the scene where people jump up on chairs when a mouse runs through a dining room or where a scruffy rat scurries down a dark alley.
But having a rodent infestation in your home is not an enjoyable experience. Besides being unappealing and frightening, these animals carry germs and deadly diseases. The good news is that there are many effective rodent control methods.
If you are curious about what those are, keep reading. The information below explains the dangers and damage rodents can cause. It also lays out the options you have for getting rid of them so that you can determine which one (or combination of methods) is best for your circumstances.
What Problems Can Rodents Cause?
The most obvious (though not the most serious) problem rodents can cause is that they are unsightly. No one wants a mouse running out during a party or other social gathering. Rodent droppings also are an unwelcomed and unsanitary byproduct of an infestation.
While most rodents are harmless in general, they do pose one danger to humans: the transmission of diseases. Mice and rats can carry Hantavirus, which is a life-threatening disease that warrants special treatment. They can have salmonella, leptospira, and tularemia, which are all dangerous bacterias that cause illness in mammals.
Another common disease transmitted by rodents is lymphocytic choriomeningitis. This is quite prevalent in the common house mouse. It can cause birth defects and other complications among pregnant women.
It is not a myth that rodents carry the plague. Even in the United States today, some rodents contain y. pestis, the bacteria that causes this deadly disease. While incidents are isolated and more likely in certain regions, it is a danger to consider.
Note that you do not need to come in direct contact with rodents for them to spread diseases. They can contaminate areas of your home or food sources without your being aware of it.
Damage to Your Home
Beyond health risks, the other way that rodents can cause harm is through damage to your home. They can gnaw through wood, plastic, and wires. This can lead to structural damage, electrical issues, and even house fires.
Rodents can destroy components of your home for materials they use to build nests. This includes insulation, fabrics, and paper. This means personal items, including clothing, can be as much a target as your home itself.
All of this can amount to serious financial loss. It also could impact your ability to maintain home insurance.
There are several different extermination methods available for getting rid of rodents. Here are the most prominent ones to consider.
Remove Food Sources
One of the easiest and cheapest things you can do to help get rid of rodents is to eliminate things that attract them. The primary one is food and water sources inside your home or business.
Like all living creatures, rodents need food and water to survive. They also need shelter and will seek out the easiest place where they can access all three. On the other hand, they will leave spaces where at least one of these items is unavailable.
Eliminating food sources throughout your home should be pretty straightforward. Use airtight containers for storage, especially in dark cabinets or other spaces where rodents might hide. Always clean up spills and crumbs from cooking or eating areas, which will cut down on enticements for rodents.
Limiting water sources may be a bit trickier, but it could be as simple as fixing leaking faucets or pipes. Address any standing water issues in crawl spaces or basements. These can cause other problems in your home and attract pests like mosquitos.
Another easy way to address a rodent problem is to seal entryways. Rodents must find cracks, gaps, or other openings in walls, doors, or windows to enter a building. Closing these up can make it more difficult for them to gain access to a building.
You also might consider installing grates or other seals on vents or ductwork that rodents can use to enter your home. This includes on the ground, such as around garage doors, as well as on your roof. Many people do not realize that rodents can easily access chimneys and vents on the roof and use them to infiltrate your home.
Note that this is more of a preventative action than an active treatment measure. However, if you have a rodent problem, easy entrance into your home may be a major cause of the problem. Addressing this could help dissuade rodents from accessing your home again in the future.
Rodent traps can be an effective and inexpensive tool for removal. There are three main types. These include snap, glue, and live traps.
Snap traps––what most people refer to as “mouse traps”–have been around for more than 150 years. The original function and design remain today. These involve setting bait on a catch linked to a spring mechanism that triggers a metal bar that descends on the rodent and kills it.
You can still buy traditional wooden traps today. They are available at almost any hardware or convenience store. There are more modern snap trap designs available as well.
The advantage of snap traps is that they are very effective and can be placed in strategic locations. These include areas like cupboards or cabinets where there are signs of rodent activity. They also are very inexpensive and available almost everywhere.
Also, while they do kill the rodent, the process is instantaneous and quite humane. Compared to other methods, like poisons, snap traps are a relatively painless way to eliminate the animal.
One downside to snap traps is that they can be difficult to set up. They demand meticulous setting of the bait and lever, which can frustrating.
They also can be dangerous, especially for children or pets. They also can be a bit messy to clean up. This also includes the danger of transmitting diseases when handling the rodent remains, so you will need to take necessary precautions, such as wearing protective gloves.
Glue traps are also very easy to use. They require no setup, only tearing away protective paper and setting the trap out. You also do not need any additional bait to operate glue traps.
Rodent glue traps contain no dangerous chemicals or poisons, so they are non-toxic. This can be a huge advantage for homes with young children or small pets.
One major criticism of glue traps is that they are considered less humane than other extermination methods, including snap traps. As the animal becomes stuck in the trap, it can suffer for an extended period. Removing the rodents from the glue traps can be very messy and challenging as well.
Also, if you are targeting larger rodents, such as rats, glue traps can be less effective. While there are glue traps designed for these pests, the larger mammals are more likely to escape or drag the trap off.
Live traps are one of the most popular rodent control methods. They also are known as “catch-and-release” traps, as they capture the live animal with the intention of releasing it elsewhere.
The most obvious advantage of live traps is that they are much more humane. They do not harm the creatures in any way, but only trap them inside a cage for a short period.
Since they do not rely on any poisons or chemicals, this makes them innately safer for children and pets that may be in the home. Live traps are very easy to set up and can be used to catch almost any size pest you are dealing with.
One downside to live traps is that they can be more of a hassle than other types of traps. The process of capturing and relocating the animal requires some planning and can be time-consuming. Also, releasing the animals close to other homes or businesses could cause problems for someone else.
Live traps tend to be more expensive than other types of traps. You also may need several of them to be effective. The flip side is that, unlike glue traps, you can reuse them over and over again.
Distributing poison is also a very promising method of rodent control. In fact, it may be the most effective method on this list due to its potency. It also has the potential of eliminating a large number of rodents in a short period, which makes it ideal for more serious infestations.
Rodenticides are chemical baits designed to kill mice and rats. You can purchase them at almost any home improvement or convenience store. In general, they also are very easy to use and can be distributed across a wide area.
Unlike other methods on this list, chemical control of rodents involves ingredients that are harmful to humans, pets, or any other animals. For this reason, this avenue may be inadvisable for homes with small children or pets that could access the poison. You also may want to avoid using poison in outdoor spaces where birds or other mammals may access it.
Also, poison is considered less humane than other methods on this list. While effective rodenticides will kill the creatures rather quickly, the poison does cause internal complications that lead to the rodent’s demise.
Finally, rodenticides can be harmful to the environment. This includes the potential to contaminate soil, vegetation, and water sources.
Most states have regulations regarding their usage and disposal of rodent poisons. If you go this route, be sure to abide by these regulations, as well as basic instructions for usage. This will limit the potential for negatively effective the surrounding environment.
If you are looking for the most comprehensive rodent extermination methods, hiring a professional is the way to go. For starters, it shifts the burden of eliminating the creatures to someone who knows the best methods for doing so.
A big advantage of hiring a pro is that they will be able to assess the severity of the problem and formulate solutions based on that. This may entail a combination of treatments, such as poisons, traps, and preventative measures. This can be much more effective than aimlessly throwing out traps in areas where mice or rats may not be.
Technicians will be able to offer the best solutions for eliminating rodents from your home or business. They can identify symptoms that may have caused the problem to start with. They know where to look for potential entrances to your home and can address circumstances that may be making the problem worse.
A final advantage of hiring a professional service is time and cost savings. It keeps you from having to spend money on DIY extermination methods that may or may not work. A reputable company will offer a guarantee as well, so you can have the peace of mind that any subsequent issues will be addressed without having to start over from scratch.
Find Rodent Control Services Near You
Now that you understand the different rodent control methods available, you can decide which may be best for your home or business. Remember that sometimes the combination of methods, like eliminating food sources AND putting out traps, may be the most effective.
Pest Solutions can further assist you with the prevention and control of rodents. We are a family-owned, QualityPro-certified company, and our technicians have extensive training and experience in every aspect of pest control. Contact us for a free quote today.