7 Rodent-Proofing Tips & Tricks for Your Home
Many of us have been faced with some type of infestation problem in the home, either with insects or rodents. A survey that was taken in the United States for the National Pest Management Association in 2013 showed that 1/3 of the population faced problems with mice and rats. Now, some people may like these furry, whiskered little guys. Not when they appear in droves and start chewing their way through boxes of food though! Let’s look at where, when, and why these infestations begin before we take a look at how to prevent them.
Rodents are attracted to a cozy nesting area near an ample supply of food. Most rodent infestations occur in the kitchen or a pantry where food is bountiful. They can also occur in dark, cluttered areas like a garage, basement, or attic. The autumn and winter months tend to be the time of year when many infestations happen as well. Rodents come looking for a warm place to sleep and a space to hoard their food, which is usually being pilfered from your own cupboard in many cases.
Infestations can spread quickly due to the rapid rate of reproduction in rodents. One female mouse has the ability to give birth to up to 12 babies every 3 weeks. A female mouse can be ready to reproduce as early as at 4 weeks of age. Their gestation cycle is between 19-21 days. So you can see how the rodent population can grow so quickly.
Rodents can also squeeze through very small spaces. Rats can get through a crack that is no bigger than a quarter and mice can scurry through a dime sized crack. This is how they come to live and nest inside walls and under floors.
Rodents also carry diseases such as salmonella and parasites which are known to cause diseases like ticks, lice and fleas (look at what happened in medieval times when the black plague spread through Europe!) Rodents also urinate quite a lot and can drop up to 25,000 pellets of fecal matter in one year. Sometimes this becomes airborne and can be a cause for allergies and asthma.
Another danger of having a rodent infestation is that they tend to chew through wood and electrical wires, greatly raising the risk of starting an electrical fire in the home.
How To Rodent Proof Your Home
Make sure you seal any cracks or holes found outside of the home. This is especially important for areas where you have wires or cables running into the home from the outside. Any gap that is dime sized or more is a potential doorway for a rodent to enter.
*Tip – A good hole filler that rodents can’t chew their way through is using steel wool or copper mesh and mixing it with caulking.
This is where rodents can most easily get into your home. Your basement foundation and windows need to be checked for loose, crumbling mortar and old weather stripping. Replace weather stripping regularly. Make sure any small windows or vents in the basement are also secure with no gaps.
Plumbing and Moisture
Make sure any sites where moisture can gather is cleaned up. This would be areas where you may have leaking pipes or drains that are clogged.
Where and how you store food and seed is important in reducing the risk of a rodent infestation. If you store things like pet food, grass seed and bird seed outside of the house (in a shed for example), its best to have that storage at least 20 feet from the home and about 5 feet from the ground. Store food and seed in air tight, rodent proof containers as well. Rodents are attracted by the smell of these things so it’s best to take precautions before they arrive rather than after the fact. Once a rodent has smelled food it will stick around looking for another source.
Some people use their garage for storing food items and the same rules apply here. Be sure to not leave your garage open for any extended periods of time like overnight.
We all have that one area or two where we allow clutter to take over. Usually this is in a basement, attic, or spare room. This also makes the perfect breeding ground for rodents. Keeping these areas as clutter free as possible will go a long way in preventing a rodent outbreak.
Many people love to have gorgeous bushes and dense plants around the yard. However, these also make a safe haven for rodents to take up residence right outside the home. While you don’t have to give up on creating the landscape you desire, try to use some moderation and keep the denser foliage away from the structure of the house. Trim tree branches back so you have at least a 6 foot gap between house and tree.
*Tip – There are some plants that help repel rodents such as mint. You can plant these in strategic places outside of the home or used crushed leaves or mint oil in areas like cupboards and pantries. Another trick is to sprinkle used cat litter around the foundations outside of the home. The scent of a rodent’s natural predator can be enough to give them a second thought about visiting your home.
Sanitation: Indoors and Outdoors
Keeping the home clean inside and out can prevent rodents from taking an interest in your home to begin with. Inside the home make sure you clean areas where food may collect or fall, like under the stove, dishwasher, and refrigerator. Make sure you keep countertops clean and clear of food and store any dry food, seeds, and pet food in air tight containers. If you do have pets, don’t leave food bowls down at night. Make sure you don’t leave cups or bowls of water out over night as well. All of these things can attract rodents.
Keep places like storage areas clutter free and make sure supplies are being stored off of the floor. If you have those areas that are hard to access and often get neglected, make sure they are at least rodent proof.
We have touched on this a bit already regarding landscaping and outside storage areas. If you store firewood it is best to keep it away from the house. It’s best to keep lumber and firewood about 18 inches off the ground. If you have debris like rock piles and old equipment laying around outside, make sure you have it removed. Make sure any outdoor garbage pails are shut tightly.
Many people like to feed the birds but this also can attract rodents. Using bird feeders are ok but you need to keep on top of them and keep them as clean as possible, as well as keeping them away from the house. It’s also important to clean up any spills of pet food, grass or bird seed right away.
When rodents come calling it is often not noticed until it is too late. This is why prevention is the best route to control rodent problems. If you do have a problem, make sure to call Debug Pest Control!