Two small creatures that can give even the bravest of people a fright are rats and mice. These furry rodents can be found in many places, including in and around homes and farms. House mice are nondescript, brownish rodents with relatively large ears and small eyes with adults weighing ½ ounce. Rats are typically slender with a pointed head, large eyes, and large ears. An adult rat weighs around 1 pound.
Rats can squeeze through openings the size of a quarter while mice can fit through openings the size of a dime. Because of this, it’s important to use caulk and/or steel wool to seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home. Another way to keep these pests out of your home is to install door sweeps on exterior doors. Homeowners should also repair or replace damaged screens.
Because these rodents can survive in very small areas with limited amounts of food, it is almost impossible to totally eliminate populations, particularly on farms. Although good sanitation will seldom eliminate these pests, poor sanitation is sure to attract them and will allow them to thrive in greater abundance. Concentrate on eliminating places where mice find shelter and food. All places where food is stored, processed or used should be made mouse-proof. They cannot survive in large numbers if there is not enough food and there are not enough places to build nests, rest, hide, and rear young.
Trapping is an effective control method, although time-consuming. It is the preferred method in homes, garages and other structures where only a few rodents are present. Trapping has several advantages:
- Trapping does not rely on inherently hazardous rodenticides.
- Trapping permits the user to view a successful effort.
- Trapping allows for disposal of the carcasses, thereby eliminating odors that may occur when poisoning is done inside
Fumigants are highly toxic to people and animals, and must not be used in any situation that might expose the occupants of a building to the gases. For these reasons, only licensed structural pest control operators should use fumigants in any situation involving buildings or structural enclosures.