Unless it's your pet rat or mouse in a cage (which may still cause some family members to jump on a chair if it gets loose!), any rodent in the home is not a good thing. Not only are rats and mice a nasty nuisance, they can contaminate food, chew up important papers and wiring, and spread disease.
How do you keep rats and mice out of the house - without using poison? Here are 7 tips.
7 Tips to Keep Rats and Mice Out of the House
- Don't feed the birds! Birds aren't always neat eaters, they will let much of the seed fall to the ground, where it provides a free and easy meal for rodents and other wildlife and insects (such as squirrels, geese, and even ants) to hang around your house.
- Don't leave your garage door open for extended periods, especially overnight. This is an open invitation for rats, mice, and wildlife (including unwanted wild people!) to enter and take shelter, potentially making their way into your home as well.
- Don't store 50 pounds of dog food in your garage. The aroma of pet food, bird seed, or grass seed can attract the rodents, so it must be kept in airtight containers. While that metal trash can and lid may indeed keep mice from getting to your dog food, they won't realize that until after the smell has lured them into your garage.
- The same should be said about the enticing aroma of garbage. Controlling these smells can mean all the difference between having no mice and having several families of them nesting in your garage and eventually in your walls.
- Seal your air conditioner lines and other gaps that are the size of a dime or larger.
- Resist overdoing it on the landscaping. Abundant, dense plant life near the home creates an irresistible sanctuary and safe haven for rodents just outside your home. Unfortunately, the same lush beautiful landscaping so many of us admire and aspire to have are just as attractive to many of the pests we want to keep out of our homes.
- Clean up spilled "mouse food" immediately. A few pieces of dog food on the garage floor or some spilled bird or grass seed will be irresistible to a hungry mouse outside.
Signs of Rodent Presence
When a mouse or rat decides to visit, it's rarely seen. Usually, signs that rats or mice have invaded your home are chewed holes in boxes and bags of dry goods in a pantry or dog food and grass seed bags in the garage.
Rodents have been known to chew through electrical wiring, causing expensive repairs, or even causing fires. Often, it's their droppings (feces) that are noticed first. But the true danger in a mouse or rat's visit is often invisible. Various diseases, including Hantavirus, are transmitted by the accidental inhalation of dust from a rodent's dried urine.
The most effective way to control a rodent population in your home is prevention. With a little bit of garage cleaning, yard work, and caulking, you can avoid the major hassle of extensive cleanup that is necessary, even if only one or two mice have a party in your pantry.
Updated by Lisa Jo Lupo