They sneak in when you aren’t looking. The creep and crawl. They leave nasty trails to show you where they have been and they destroy everything. I’m talking about rodents. Rats. Mice. They are such smart creatures and if you have ever had one as a pet, you may feel reluctant to kill them. Unfortunately, there is no way to communicate with them and tell them to go. You really only have one choice. Get rid of them. But how?
Here are five ways to rid your roost of rodents:
1. Eliminate the appeal. Rodents are looking for a place to live. It should be safe, warm and have ready access to food and water. Eliminate these factors and they will look elsewhere. Stop feeding the birds birdseed. The birds are generous and friendly. They will take a bite, then sweep their heads through the seed and scatter it on the ground for the rats and mice. And the rats and mice will come along and eat it. They will continue to return to this food source for as long as it exists. So just stop. You can feed the hummingbirds and you can put out water, but the birdseed will definitely attract rats and mice and squirrels and more to your home.
2. Exclude them.
Rats and mice are like little ninja magicians. They can get into little bitty spaces with ease.
Anything a pencil can poke into, a mouse can enter. Yes. A pencil size hole is big enough for a mouse to enter. You can exclude rodents from entering holes by stuffing the holes with steel wool. If the hole is large, then stuff it with steel wool and then spray expanding foam into and through the steel wool. You can look for expanding foam that contains special ingredients to exclude rodents, but the regular stuff works just as well.
3. Poison versus traps? Poison seems so easy, doesn’t it? Just put it out and let them eat it and they die off. The problem is that they don’t die off quickly. They wander off and get eaten by another animal and the poison ends up harming the unintended recipient. They also wander off in search of water and crawl into your walls, under your home, into a pile of clothes, and then they die. Then you find their disgusting bodies weeks or months later after following the source of the smell. Or worse, you reach for something and your hand touches the icky decaying body and then the neighbors wonder when that piercing scream is going to end.
So use traps. You can use catch and release traps, snap traps or sticky traps. When you use traps, you will want to start by baiting them and leaving them out without setting them. Yes, you will be feeding the rats for a bit, but don’t worry. You are teaching them that the traps are nothing to fear. Then one day, you will bait them and catch a lot of rats at one time. And you will need way more traps than you think you will need. Sticky traps work by trapping the live mouse in a sticky substance that keeps them from leaving the trap. So when you find them, they are still alive. Check these traps often so any trapped mice don’t suffer more than they need to suffer. Once you pick them up, you will need to dispatch the mice and dispose of the trap. Sticky traps are effective, but they are indiscriminate and inhumane. If you find an animal in a sticky trap and you wish to free it, you can use vegetable oil to free it. Secure the animal so it cannot harm you and then rub warm vegetable oil into the area where the body part is stuck to the tray. It will take a bit of patience, but the oil will dissolve the sticky substance and once the animal is free, it should be gently washed to remove the oil. The animal should then be allowed to recover in a safe warm area where you can monitor it before releasing it. This helps if your cat, your pet hamster or an unintended animal is caught in the trap.
4. Rid your roost? I didn’t use that term loosely. If you have chickens you are likely feeding the rodents every time you feed your chickens. Unless you build a very secure chicken coop, you will find that rodents will be attracted to your coop and will eat the food, drink the water, use the bedding and even eat the eggs. If you are serious about getting rid of the rodents, you must secure your coop. Store chicken food in a metal garbage can with a secure lid outside of your home.
5. Hire a professional. Yes, you can hire someone to do all of the above for you.