Winter Rat and Mouse Control
Winter Rat and Mouse Control
It’s winter time again in Ontario and that means that the pests and rodents that have been living in your yard are now trying to find a warmer place to wait out the cold months — in your house. These live-in nuisances can be extremely difficult to get rid of once they burrow their way into your home, and they can cause more than just a ruckus. Rats and mice can cause significant property damage because they chew or gnaw on building insulation, siding, wallboard and wires. On top of this, they eat a variety of foods, including food you might have stored in your cupboards or pantry. If you eat food that has been contaminated by rodents, it’s much easier for you or a loved one to contract an illness. In some cases, diseases can be spread if you are bitten by a rodent, or if you are exposed to areas that are contaminated by rodent urine or droppings.
Rodents tend to top the list of winter pest pressures, and they are incredibly crafty when it comes to finding their way inside. As food sources diminish outdoors, rats and mice seek meals in pantries, kitchens, and storage areas…and they can cause quite a bit of damage if undetected. From disease and bacteria associated with rodent droppings to home damage and gnawed wires, rodents are persistent when seeking a meal or nesting site.
Any crack or gap larger than a quarter of an inch is a potential rodent entry point, so the first order of business is to start sealing those areas off. Your winter housekeeping routine also matters: crumbs and food stored in non-airtight containers can attract rodents from afar, with promises of an easy meal. It’s essential to keep refrigerators and dishwashers clean, too – odors from a messy refrigerator may seem to a mouse like the announcement for a buffet. If you find yourself with a rodent problem, consult an expert, who can implement a rodent control solution specifically designed for your home.
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) has recently been associated with the inhalation of dried droppings from the wild deer mouse. HPS has not been associated with the more common indoor mice. Ticks and fleas carried by rodents can also spread diseases, so it is advisable to plan ahead and have a pest control provider in your rolodex — especially if you notice any telltale signs of infestation. Rodents have a number of signs that will tell you whether or not you have a problem. If you’re dealing with an infestation of house mice, they will often leave behind a cloying “acetamide” smell, and all rodents will gnaw and chew at wood and other materials to keep their incisors short. Rats can even gnaw through soft metals such as lead and aluminum so any gnawed material is a dead giveaway. Watch out for droppings, too. A rat’s fecal deposits are 12 mm long and often tapered at one end, while a mouse’s a roughly half that size. Another sign to look for is greasy fur marks, as rats and house mice leave dirty black smears along well-travelled routes, particularly ‘loop smears’ where they squeeze under roof joints.
Rats and mice are easy to detect and leave plenty of evidence. From chewing through a cereal box to feeding on fruit left on the counter, they can leave a mess. There may be mouse nesting material inside the house or rat burrows in the soil outside. Dark brown droppings where rodents eat and travel are a sure sign of infestation. When your house is quiet, it is possible to hear rodents moving around (running between walls, in attics and under foundations) or even chewing. Keep your ears open for these classic “rats in the walls” giveaways.
While you could instead trust rickety old traps or poisonous chemicals, a dead rodent can often be more of a nuisance than a live one especially if the rodents start to die off (and stink up) hard to reach areas. It is not a good idea to use poison or baits to control rodents. Poisoned rodents can crawl away and die, and their bodies can be hard to find and result in unpleasant odors. Poisons can also accidentally harm pets, wild animals, or even children. Ultrasound repellers, although effective at first, are expensive and do not have long-term success at eliminating rodents.
Prevention is often the easiest solution, and you should make a concerted effort to repair broken air bricks and holes in outside walls, floorboards or skirting boards, and you should also tidy up cupboards and remove nesting material. Keep all garbage in pest proof containers with tight fitting lids, follow good composting practices for rodent control, do not throw food scraps into your backyard compost without covering them, have a pest proof compost container, remove fallen fruit and nuts from your yard, try to remove pet food right after feeding and do not leave it outside overnight, and always be sure to clean out waste and food from pet pens and enclosures.
If you suspect you have an infestation, it’s imperative that you contact a pest control specialist right away. Kubassek Pest Control is licensed and certified with the province of Ontario and have trained extensively in the use of chemicals. Don’t trust your own DIY maneuvers to rid you of a rodent problem. Only a trained professional from Kubassek Pest Control has the training and the tools to maximize rodent and mouse control before winter settles in and the battle is already lost.