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Of course you don't WANT to do this, but there is rarely a way around it. The first step in the process is immediately eliminating any existing populations of rats or mice inside the structure. And the BEST way to accomplish this is through strategic implementation of a combination of rodent trap devices. For mice, start with a combination of snap trap devices and glue board sticky traps in proximity to where you think they may be nesting, along runways, and near potential sources of food. Use lots and lots of traps. How many? That depends on the extent of your particular infestation, but when dealing with mice, more is always more. 20+ mouse trap devices is probably a good starting point in most situations.
Mice are commonly found in residential kitchens, and it's always a good idea to begin with a comprehensive inspection to see if a nest can be located. Be sure to look in cabinets and pantries where food items are stored, as well as beneath and behind appliances such as ovens or refrigerators. Before starting to move things around and disturb the area, consider placing several glue board sticky traps on the floor so as to catch scurrying mice in the event they begin to scatter.
For rats, start by pre-baiting a series of snap traps with raisins or other dried fruits or nuts. During the pre-baiting period (typically 3-5 days), you will place unset, baited traps in the environment to allow the rats to be accustomed to feeding. Once you've established feeding, you can then set the traps. As with mice, be aggressive in your rat trapping approach in order to try to knock out the entire active population with the first round of trapping. Depending on their connectivity to the outdoors, that may or may not be possible.
When placing rat traps, pay attention to indicators as to where they may be nesting, entering, traveling, burrowing, gnawing, and feeding and look to place traps in proximity to these area. In attics, runways may include along utility lines or other conduits which may include grease marks or rub stains from the bodies of rats. You may also notice burrow holes in insulation that provide an indication as to their travel routes.
After the interior population of rats and mice have seemingly been eliminated, it's time to turn up the intensity outside the home. (In some instances of heavy interior rodent activity, exterior baiting for rats and mice may begin at the same time as the interior trapping). Remember, the mice and rats inside the structure are coming from the environment outside. So while the short-term rodent relief is brought about through interior trapping and removal, long-term rodent relief will be brought about by efforts on the outside.
Rodent baiting is designed to eliminate active populations of rats and mice in the environment around your home in the immediate term and prevent them from regenerating their populations over time. A properly executed rodent reduction program includes strategic placement of rodenticides in a way that intercepts newly introduced rats and mice as a means of population control. By maintaining low or non-existing levels of rodents around the exterior, the likelihood of rodent intrusion inside the structure becomes significantly less.
Rodenticides (rodent baits / poisons) come in many different formulations for use in different applications. In most environments, rodenticide bait blocks housed in tamper-resistant bait stations may be an ideal baiting option. Keep in mind that rodent baits are generally sold separately from the bait stations they will need to be housed in. Make sure that the rodenticide you choose fits properly inside your bait station of choice. Some bait stations have built-in anchors that prevent tampering from children or pets. Others may need to be secured for safety purposes.
Now that you have eliminated the initial populations of rats and mice inside the structure and set up your rodent reduction program around the outside, it's time to turn your attention to the environmental conditions that might be contributing to the presence of rodents. Pay special attention to eliminating any potential rodent harborage areas, including piles of brush or other debris, trash, wood piles, heavy foliage, traps, or other areas that may provide shelter. It is important to keep all bushes, trees, and shrubs trimmed so as not to come in direct contact with any part of the structure or the roofline above. Certain rodents, such as roof rats, are prolific climbers and will use any points of connectivity to go back and forth. By disrupting their habitat and minimize possible nest sites, rodents will be less likely to choose your property as their home.
The final step in getting rid of rats and mice and keeping them out of your home is another comprehensive inspection to determine potential points of entry (as a reminder, a quality rodent inspection is also the very first step in the process as well). If you are able to identify potential or likely points of entry, these areas should be sealed with impenetrable materials that rodents will be unable to gnaw through and will stand up to environmental conditions over time.
Keep in mind that rats can squeeze their way through an opening as small as a quarter, and mice through an opening about the size of a dime. Because of this, sealing off ALL conceivable, potential points of entry may or may not be practical, depending up on the age, construction, and condition of the home. Seek to identify and correct any prevailing conditions that may be readily apparent, as any reduction in potential points of rodent entry is helpful.
An important note about rodent exclusion, or mouse proofing: sealing potential rodent entry points without incorporating the other 3 steps in this process is unlikely to deliver positive, lasting rodent protection. Without removing the rodents inside, taking aggressive, ongoing measures to reduce rodent populations outside, and modifying the surrounding habitat to make it as inhospitable as possible, battling rats or mice is likely to become a losing fight.
In most instances, following this 4 step guide to getting rid of rats and mice is going to set you on the path for success and satisfaction. Sometimes, however, rodent infestations can persist in ways that may require professional intervention. This may be especially true in multi-unit buildings or commercial properties. Rodents can also sometimes penetrate through plumbing or sewer lines, creating challenges that might extend beyond the scope of typical rodent resolution measures. If you have followed these 4 steps and are finding yourself with an ongoing, persist rodent problem, it may be time to consider consulting a professional exterminating company.