There’s nothing more unsettling than spotting a mouse or rat, or hearing them creep around your house. Mice and rats are rapid breeders, so if you see one, there might be a few more on the way. “Both can cause damage to your home (creating holes in the walls and floors) and contaminate food sources,” says Blaine Richardson, an associate certified entomologist and COO at pest control company EDGE-The Service Company. “Rats especially can transmit diseases to humans.” Richardson shared some of his best DIY advice for getting rid of rodents, plus how to prevent them from setting up shop in your house.
How to Prevent a Mouse or Rat Problem:
1. Deny Them Entry or Shelter
The first thing is you want to make sure they can’t get in at all. “Rodents are looking for warm, safe places to stay and are experts at squeezing through small entry points,” Richardson says. “Mice can fit through a hole or crack the size of a dime, so identify and seal off completely (with metal, cement, caulk, weather stripping, or copper wire mesh) any entry points into or under your home or shed.” Check for cracks, gaps in windows, doors, or ceilings, or any open sewer drains. Don’t forget to keep your garage door closed, too.
“Keep any bushes or shrubs around your home well-trimmed,” he says. “Additionally, clean up or remove any material that may be used to build a nest, including cardboard boxes or straw.”
2. Cut Off Food and Water Supplies
“Clean up any existing food sources, such as trash or crumbs,” he says. “Next you’ll want to ensure that all food and grains are stored in sealed plastic or metal containers—if not, rodents can quickly chew through and contaminate your food supply. Additionally, ensure you don’t have leaking pipes or clogged drains that could provide a water supply for rodents.”
How to Deal With a Mouse or Rat Problem:
1. Try Natural Remedies
Bay leaves and mint (you can also use peppermint oil) are known to repel rodents, so place those around entry points to try to keep them away.
2. Set Up Traps
The usual spring-loaded traps will do the trick, but if you want a more humane way of getting these rodents out of your house, you have some options. The Smart Mouse Trap and similar models keep the rodent inside the box until you can set it free outside (and far away from your house). When setting up the trap, make sure to wear gloves as your scent will repel the rodents. They like nuts and grains, so peanut butter might be a good option to set inside the trap—and too much bait makes it easy for the rodent to eat some and not get caught, so use a pea-size amount. “Rodents don’t like open spaces, so place your traps against the walls, specifically with the bait portion directly up against the wall,” Richardson says. “And give it time. Rodents are more intelligent than you might think and are wary of new objects in their area. You may need to get them used to the traps beforehand by placing them out a few days in advance.”
3. Get a Cat
“It may sound funny, but if you are open to getting a cat or letting one stay at your place for a while this will definitely help stop rodents from inhabiting your home,” he says.
When to Call the Pros:
If you’ve tried all the remedies above and there’s an increase of rodents or you spot a large amount of droppings, then there’s most likely an infestation. You’ll want to call in the experts as locating the nest can be difficult.