Inquiries about how to get rid of rats and mice soared over the winter – possibly due to climate change.
Figures released by Rentokil Pest Control show the number of householders and businesses asking how to get rid of rodents increased by 36 per cent last winter, compared to averages recorded over the past three years.
Colder winters usually mean fewer rodents, because they don’t survive the lower temperatures, but milder weather is apparently allowing more rodents to live, and long hot summers are creating perfect conditions for young mice and rats to leave the nest and breed rapidly.
“Last year’s summer was the hottest on record for the Northern Hemisphere, and the surge in rodent sightings this winter are a legacy of these conditions, as more young rodents survived through to adulthood and were then able to breed almost immediately,” explains Paul Blackhurst, head of Rentokil Pest Control’s Technical Academy.
“Rain and a drop in temperature cause rats and mice to migrate indoors, where there’s more food and shelter. With rain falling, it’s likely we’ll continue to record a rise in rodent inquiries as rats are displaced from their burrows,” he adds. “However, there are steps you can take to ensure pests are kept at bay.”
Signs of a rodent problem include an unusual, ammonia-like smell, small dark droppings, greasy marks on walls or skirting boards, and gnaw marks. Hearing scratching noises, especially at night, is also a sign of rats and mice, and their nocturnal nature means they can remain hidden for a long time before you begin to suspect they’ve invaded your home.
But rodents can potentially spread germs, and damage your property through gnawing, so if you suspect you have unwanted furry house guests, it’s a good idea to get rid of them quickly.
Prevention is always better than cure, however, and it’s an even better ideal to try and stop rodents getting into your home in the first place. Here are the sensible ways to keep rats and mice out of your home – and what to do if they take up residence.
1. Seal gaps
Mice are capable of squeezing through gaps the size of a Biro to enter a building. So check around the outside of your home, particularly near pipes and drains, to make sure there are no holes. And if you see any, fill them with wire wool, caulk, metal kick plates or cement.
2. Clean up after eating
A mouse only needs 3g of food per day, so simple measures like ensuring crumbs and dropped morsels aren’t left on the floor, and that all waste food is sealed and disposed of properly is crucial. Mr Blackhurst stresses: “The simple step of ensuring food and waste is properly sealed and stored can make a big difference.”
3. Don’t leave food out overnight
It’s easily done, but try not to leave food and leftovers out on the side in the kitchen. When the house is dark and quiet, mice will smell it and enjoy a feast.
4. Ensure waste is stored away well
Make sure rubbish is stored in a strong bin with a lid large enough to prevent waste from overflowing. Use strong plastic or metal containers for waste so rodents aren’t attracted to any smells, and don’t leave food waste in black bin bags on the floor. “Rodents and other pests can easily tear through black bin liners to get to unwanted food,” Mr Blackhurst points out.
5. Cut out clutter
Move storage away from walls where possible, and remember less clutter means fewer places for rodents to hide.
6. Your bird feeder may be a mouse feeder
Bird feeders may attract rodents to your home and although it may be nice to feed the birds, you may actually be giving food and shelter to the local mice too.
7. It’s probably not just one
Rodents like to stay out of sight as it helps them feel safe, so seeing just one pest could actually indicate a larger problem. They also have a very quick reproduction cycle, so failing to act could create the conditions for an isolated issue to turn into a full infestation. Prevention is definitely better than cure. “You might not think that one mouse sighting warrants immediate attention, but a problem can quickly escalate into something more serious if left untreated,” stresses Mr Blackhurst.
8. Don’t rely on a cat
Rentokil insists getting a cat to deter mice is an old wives’ tale, as while cats do instinctively hunt mice, a well-fed pet isn’t always going to deliver effective mouse control.
9. Or anti-mouse plants
There are several plants that mice are supposed to dislike, including peppermint, chamomile, lavender, cloves and chillies. They may provide a deterrent, but it’s unlikely they’re powerful enough to keep mice away completely.
10. Think carefully about traps
There are various types of mouse/rat traps available – some that kill the rat/mouse, and humane ones that trap them so you can set them free away from your home. It’s advised that release should always be at least two miles away from your property, or you risk your unwanted house guest returning.
11. Call in the experts
Rodents breed very quickly, so by the time you notice they’re in your home they may have a large family. Pest control experts can get rid of rats and mice from your home quickly and easily, if you don’t want to try the DIY route.
Have you ever had a problem with rodents? What do you do to keep them away from your home?
– With PA
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