Mice and rats are problems when they infest your home. Not only do they chew up your furniture, clothing, bedding, books, magazines, and more to make nests, they can spread disease via their urine and feces. And make no mistake, they leave a lot of that around.
Unfortunately, they’re very adaptable when it comes to food sources and their preferred habitats. They will eat anything, not just your garbage. Potential food sources include pet food, your plants, grains, and seeds, including grass seed, and even meat if they can get to it.
If they find food and shelter, they can breed, at which point you will have a full-on infestation. If you don’t handle it correctly the first time, you’ll wind up with a dangerous and expensive problem that can affect your health and that of your family. How do you avoid developing a mice and rat problem? We’ll cover that below.
Reasons You May Have a Mice & Rat Problem
There are a variety of things that attract mice and rats to your house. Here are some of the main reasons:
Clutter serves as an attractant for rodents because it provides shelter for them. They can hide inside things, under them, and behind them, and they’re very good at making you think they aren’t there.
Clutter in or around your house provides mice and rats with nesting material. Animals naturally search for warm, hidden places in which to give birth, so their offspring have the best chance to survive.
Rodents will chew wood, upholstery, furniture, clothing, bedding, and anything else they can find into tiny pieces to create nests. Because of that, even a cluttered home that isn’t all that dirty is at risk for rodent infestations.
Perhaps the most significant risk for rodent activity in your house is food sources. As we mentioned earlier, they’ll eat all types of food, including:
- Animal and food derivatives
- Fruits and berries
- Garbage debris and trash
- Grains and seeds
- Pet food
- Sweet and salty treats
- Other food sources
The first thing that attracts them is uncovered garbage cans, especially if you don’t take your trash out regularly.
Also, if you keep your outdoor garbage cans too close to your house, rats and mice may find a way in and discover fresher food sources. For instance, if you free-feed your pets, then your pet food becomes a food source for a rat or a mouse as well.
Indoor plants pull double duty as a food source and shelter. Mice and rats will nibble on foundation plants, grass, flowers, and even plant seeds outside your house. It stands to reason that they would eat your indoor plants, too, especially if that’s the most accessible food source in your home.
Pet Waste and Compost
This might seem obvious, and it’s a fact that most of us try and keep our uncontained pet waste to a minimum. But if you’re composting, you want to make sure to keep it as far away from your house as possible.
Since mice and rats are attracted to any and every source of food imaginable, they’ll be attracted to used and decomposing food as well. If you have an open compost pile, you may rodents somewhere near it. The same is true of pet waste. All of this stuff is a free buffet for rats and mice.
Quick Entry Points
This is where all the rodent activity you might have outdoors can quickly become a problem indoors. Quick entry points include tiny spaces no bigger than a half-inch in width or anywhere they might be able to chew their way in.
The average house has dozens of these entry points. Rats and mice can use your roof and outdoor vents, places under and around your garage door, your crawl space, through the gap between your foundation and ground floor, and more.
Water Sources Like Leaky Pipes
Animals need water, and mice and rats aren’t any different. When they enter your house in search of food, they also search for sources of water. Leaky pipes make an excellent water source for rodents, and they’ll look for shelter near those pipes.
The water you keep out for your pet can serve as an attractant for mice and rats, too. While you don’t want to take away your pet’s water, you need to consider where you keep it and how often you change it, especially if you have a known rodent problem.
Warm and Comfortable Spaces
If you were a rodent, wouldn’t you want a warm, comfortable space to call home and maybe even have your babies in? That’s what attracts them to your house, to your lumber and mulch piles, to your old furniture, and more. These all serve as shelter for rodents, too.
They can dig or chew into these things and create warm, comfy spaces for themselves and any babies they have.
Everything we’ve discussed thus far involves factors you can control. There are things you can’t control that might attract rats and mice, too.
Construction noise can frighten rodents out of their homes and force them to search out new, quieter homes. Cold temperatures and food scarcity can do this, as well.
These factors are one of the many reasons prevention is so important.
Tips to Prevent Mice & Rats
Effective rodent control involves prevention. First, make sure you take care of your house and property. Keep the vegetation around your house neatly trimmed with a gap of at least two feet between them and your structure.
Also, clean up junk, store wood off the ground on racks or concrete pads away from your house, and dispose of yard waste as you create it. Regularly clean up and properly dispose of food waste as well.
Put all your outdoor garbage in cans with tight-fitting lids, and regularly turn your compost or use a closed composter.
Inspect your house for cracks and holes through which mice and rats can enter, paying particular attention to pipes, conduits, and vents. If you see gaps, use wire mesh or metal patches to close them. Caulking doesn’t work since rodents can chew through it.
Replace all torn screens and ensure your windows and doors fit correctly so rodents can’t use those for entry points. If you do all or most of this, you can mitigate your risk of getting rodents inside your house.
Additional measures include soaking cotton balls in peppermint oil and leaving those near possible entry points. You can also use traps to monitor the situation.
How to Get Rid of Mice and Rats
If you have a rodent problem, you can use humane traps to deal with it, assuming you don’t have a severe infestation.
Avoid using poisons because they can harm your pets as well as wildlife outdoors. Many pets get poisoned each year because they ate a poisoned rat or mouse.
If you use live traps, make sure you release it at least two miles away or it might just come back. For severe infestations, call your local pest control service to help you out. They’ll be able to ensure that dead rats don’t end up in your walls and seal your home up so that you don’t get any more rodents in the future. They can often do it more affordably as well and spare you the hassle of trying to do it on your own.
It’s good to be aware of the things that attract mice and rats to your house, so you know how to prevent them. Prevention is always easier, cheaper, and better than “worrying about it later if it even happens.”
If you have an infestation, don’t hesitate to call Stampede Pest Control to have us come out and handle the problem. We’ll get rid of the infestation and help you identify and address issues that brought rodents into your house in the first place.