Written by Anza Goodbar (last updated February 17, 2012)
Rodents come in many shapes and sizes from field mice, rats, moles and gophers. Rodents are carriers of more than 35 diseases that are transmittable to humans through bits, feces droppings and contaminated food and water. Rodents typically carry insects like mites, ticks and fleas in their fur which can also be responsible for transmitting certain diseases.
The best protection from having rodents move in is to insure all entry points are sealed. Rodents do not require large spaces to enter a structure; they can squeeze through the smallest crevices and cracks. Look in every conceivable area including the roof, plumbing system, vents, eaves, air conditioning chases and the chimney. Rid yourself of habits that would make your home inviting, keep a clean and disinfected kitchen, and clean up spills and crumbs immediately. Do not let food sit on the counter or in the sink. Store dried food items in plastic or glass air tight containers. Keep a sealed lid on trash cans and empty trash receptacles regularly.
If you find rodents inside the house, wear gloves to explore possible nest sites. It is also advisable to wear a mask covering your nose and mouth to prevent inhaling rodent feces or urine as this could be hazardous to your health. Start by spraying the area with a disinfecting solution like bleach to clean the area. Sweep up any feces that are scattered around. Place traps. Old fashioned wooden traps with peanut butter or cheese spread work the best. Keep an eye on the traps and dispose of the dead bodies immediately. You can also install a one-way door, but all entry points must be sealed before this method will be effective.
To rid them for the perimeter of your home, sprinkle granules of predator urine like fox or bobcat. This can act as a deterrent and cause them to search for a new nesting site. If appropriate, barn owls can also be beneficial in keeping the rodent population at bay. Boxes need to be set up for their nests, and proper cleaning of the nest needs to be scheduled after breeding season.
As with any pest problem, prevention is the best way to handle rodents. Once they have moved in, it can be costly and difficult to rid your home of an infestation. Act quickly and be thorough if you hear sounds in the attic or walls. Rodents reproduce quickly and a small problem can multiply into a big problem in no time.
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