Most people don't think about rats or mice until they become pests in or around the home. But with experts predicting that these pests will be particularly bad this upcoming winter, you might want to spend some more time rodent-proofing your home and other buildings.
A new report from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) predicts an increase in rodent infestations from the cool, wet weather we've had in California. When temperatures drop outdoors, rodents often seek shelter in buildings to keep warm. They can enter through small cracks in foundations, screens, or trim. Once inside, they can damage the structure, destroy food, and transmit diseases to humans and other animals.
Some general tips for keeping rats and mice out include:
- Check around foundations, roofs, water pipes, vents, and utility cables for openings. Seal exterior cracks and holes larger than ¼ inch with wire mesh, steel wool, sheet metal or concrete. Rodents can chew through caulk, expanding foam, plastic, wood, and other soft materials.
- Make sure all exterior doors and windows fit tightly.
- Keep food storage and garbage containers sealed. Store pet food in rodent-proof containers and avoid leaving excess pet food out.
- Clean up crumbs or spilled food immediately.
- Remove or thin vegetation around buildings. Roof rats will use climbing vegetation to scale buildings and seek shelter.
If you have rodents indoors, the best way to control them is with snap traps. Dispose of dead rodents by placing them in plastic bags and putting them in the garbage. Do not touch rodents with your bare hands.
Learn more about managing rodents in the UC IPM publications Pest Notes: House Mouse and Pest Notes: Rats. If your rodent infestation is too much for you to handle on your own, consider Hiring a Pest Control Company.