Rats and mice both like stability, warmth, shelter and a good and reliable source of food. Unfortunately, homes and garages provide the perfect environment for these critters to thrive. They both also reproduce at fantastic rates and like to move around in the evening, staying as close to home as possible. The key difference is that rats prefer to eat large meals at one sitting whereas mice prefer to nibble all day long.
The first step in rodent-proofing your property is to remove any clutter that contributes to their preferred hiding places. This means cleaning out attics, crawl spaces, sheds and garages. Seal up boxes, place food items in tin or glass containers and remove any empty boxes or piles of trash, clothing or other items from the floor or shelves. You also want to clear your yard of any piles of debris and make sure that your garden is also free from shrubbery that can provide cover for these pests. Make sure that your garbage is kept in aluminum cans and the the lids are securely attached at all times.
The easiest way to control rodent populations begins with sealing off your structures so they can not find ways to get inside. Keep in mind that mice can squeeze through cracks and holes that are as little as a ¼ inch wide, and rats can get through a gap that is ½ inch or greater. Inspect the outside of your home, garage and shed in order to ensure that there are no gaps that they can squeeze through. If so, cover them immediately and periodically check to make sure that they are not eating through the material that you are using for a patch. The next step is to repeat the process indoors and fix any holes or cracks in walls or along floor boards.
Baiting and Trapping
Once you have sealed off your property, the next step is to deal with the problem that you currently have. The easiest and most effective way is to use mousetraps or bait boxes for rats. However, you can also create some alternative and less-toxic solutions as well. The important thing is that you place enough traps to contain the problem as quickly as possible in order to minimize breeding and reproduction.
Mice don’t like to travel great distances for their food, so try to spread traps or place bait pellets about two feet apart along floorboards and corners of walls. You will also benefit from placing them in crawl spaces and attics, which are areas where they tend to live. Bait boxes work best for rats because it will trap them after they consume the poison as opposed to eating the pellets and wandering off to their nesting areas and dying. This will minimize the stench and mess of cleaning up the carcasses.
Keep in mind that rodent control is going to be an ongoing process that requires continual monitoring and attention. However, you can keep things under control by removing sources of shelter and food before sealing off your property and then setting traps. Above all else, make sure that you protect your food supply and place garbage in sealed cans at the far edge of your property. These simple steps will go a long way with keeping rodent problems under control and minimizing the threat they present during and after a crisis.