Rodent-Proof Your Home

Use these techniques to keep your homestead rodent-proof.

| October/November 2004

  • Wild Rodent
    Daytime rodent sightings, the presence of lots of droppings and chewed access holes are signs of a serious rodent problem.
    Photo courtesy Fotolia/creativenature.nl

  • Wild Rodent

Rats and mice cause more damage inside our homes than any other mammal in the world. They spoil food; spread salmonella, hantavirus and 17 other diseases, and chew essential house parts such as electrical wires. Some species even kill young poultry and other livestock. Phenomenally fertile, a cute pair of mice living in your garage can grow into a gang of 20 or more in only a few months.

But you don’t have to use poisons to keep rats and mice from ruining food stuffs and livestock feed, or taking up residence in your attic. Instead, use the “seal up, trap up, clean up” strategy, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, supplemented with good common sense.

It’s important to understand that not all rodents are pests. Numerous species of small rodents are native to North America, including beneficial grasshopper mice that mainly eat insects. Most rodents prefer fields and woods to human habitats, but the opposite is true of three notorious species uniquely adapted to living around humans: the house mouse; the black, or roof, rat; and the Norway rat. These are the real troublemakers, and the better you know your enemies, the easier it will be to bring them under control.

Lining Up Predators 

Ted Hazen, a third-generation millwright in Norfolk, Va., says that historically, cats have been the primary means of controlling mice in houses and in mills, where spilled grain is a constant rodent attractant. “A good mousing cat will eat 1,200 mice a year,” Hazen says, noting that female cats are usually much better mousers than males. “Like Puss and Boots, a male cat will put on his hat and go out to have fun. The female will stay home to catch the mice.”



Hazen says some cats are more gifted mousers than others, but even great mousing cats may be intimidated by big rats. In California, Tom Stephan uses Jack Russell terriers to catch rats, sometimes in combination with his trained Saker falcon (native to Europe/Asia), which picks up rats as the dogs flush them from their holes. “There is no other dog that’s better,” Stephan says. “They are a top-notch type-A hunting dog.” In addition to being willing to paw through just about anything to get to a rat, Stephan says, his Jack Russells go for the kill. “They’ll grab a rat and shake it until it’s dizzy and can’t bite back, then crush its vertebrae and rib cage.” It sounds gory, but so is removing rats from snap traps.

If you keep a barn cat or rat-minded dog, never scold them for bringing you their prey. And since rodents love pet food, it’s best to feed all outdoor animals in the morning and remove leftovers immediately. Cats and rodent-hunting dogs are great for preventing mice problems because their best talents lie in their ability to detect intruders in their home territory. But don’t expect a cat to bring a large mouse population under control, and it may take more than one dog to get rid of rats. “You need one to stand at one hole, and another to watch the other hole,” Stephan says.

DavidMc
8/14/2016 10:52:19 AM

Have a look at EVD Electronic Vermin Protection systems on YouTube. No traps, baits, biological hazards, ultrasonic emissions and it is effective on rats, mice, slugs, snails, geckos etc.. This is the vermin deterrent system of the future and I believe its use in food preparation areas is destined to become mandatory in years to come.


Davis
1/10/2014 12:55:35 AM

Yes, I am one of those who want to make house rodent proof. These steps are the ones that are simply supreme for me. http://azbestpest.wordpress.com/


Davis
11/27/2013 6:49:58 AM

Rodent proof your house blog is highly informative and explanatory. I would like to mention that the home should be rodent free and this is going to help. http://www.azbestpest.com/rodent-control/







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