You’re lying there in the dead of night having counted heaven knows how many sheep, still unable to drop off, when you hear that familiar scratching or tapping sound. It may be of little comfort to know that one of these three suspects could be the culprit. You ignore the noise and drift off into an uneasy sleep, but as the new day dawns you know a battle plan will have to be drawn to deal with whatever is invading your home.
Fear not what lies ahead, for armed with the information in this blog, you should be more than prepared for the rodent battle and come out victorious at the end.
Know your enemy
Your first priority is to know who you’re dealing with. Try to get a glimpse of the opposition or identify it by some tell-tale signs.
The Brown Rat is unsurprisingly a brownish red colour, a hefty individual weighing anything from 280g to 480g. It has a thick body and a blunt nose. Its ears are smaller and rounder than its black partner in crime, and it has a shorter tail.
The Black Rat is a dark grey in colour rather than black and has a thinner body and pointy nose. Although all rodents climb well, black rats are truly excellent at scaling walls thanks to extra pads and digits on their paws (if you should get that close).
The House Mouse is easily distinguished from a rat as it is about a tenth of the size and measures only about 15cm nose to tail.
If you haven’t actually seen the animal in question, chances are the droppings will be a giveaway sign. Classic areas to inspect for activity are where there is food and water such as a grain store, outbuildings or indeed the kitchen. Also check around any areas of poor sanitation or rubbish heaps, debris around the property or around overflowing dustbins. It may be possible to see a track worn away in grass where the rodents have been frequent visitors or there may be grease marks up a wall or around an entry point. Another obvious sign is any gnawing at the base of wooden doors, particularly on sheds or garages. A rat leaves gnaw marks about 4mm in diameter and the holes tend to be big with rough torn edges. Mouse holes are small and clear cut and the gnaw marks left will be 1-2mm in width
Determine the size of your rodent infestation and make your move
One of the most common mistakes in rodent control is underestimating the size of the infestation and not putting out enough bait. Varying size in the droppings indicates adults and juveniles are present and quite simply the more droppings, the larger the population. Place your bait inside and out:
Around the perimeter of the property – Use tamper resistant bait boxes such as the SX One Rat Box or the Protecta Sidekick Rat Bait Station, or similarly the Protecta Mouse Bait Station or Euro Mouse Box. For external baiting, use block bait as it can be secured inside the boxes with rods. This reduces the risk of secondary poisoning to non-target animals. Place the boxes every 10-15m depending on the severity of the infestation and pay particular attention to entry doors or where warm air currents or food odours emerge.
Inside the property – More bait boxes with block or loose bait as preferred, or specially designed place packs that can be left as they are where rodents frequent. With mice, traditional traps inside the boxes are very successful, less so with rats as they are a more formidable opponent. They will take stock of anything that has caused harm and stay clear of it. Equally they are paranoid of new objects so may take longer to accept your new bait boxes. For mice, space placements at 2.5 – 3.5m and for rats at 4 – 9m. Be sure to use boxes wherever safety is an issue, and make sure the bait is refreshed and any spoiled bait removed. Always read the label giving instructions on how to place the bait. Some bait can be used inside and out, some can only be used indoors.
Once your bait stations are in place and you are clear of your rodent problem, make a start on rodent proofing your home. It is advisable to do this after baiting as disturbing the rodents without baiting will probably scatter them making it harder to trap.
- Eliminate the rodents’ food and water source.
- Identify harbourage areas such as rubbish piles and garden debris and eliminate them.
- Keep grass and vegetation short and cut back overhanging trees where the rodents might find shelter.
- Close all holes in exterior and interior walls with expanding foam. Leave no openings over 1/2 cm particularly around doors and windows as a mouse will be able to gnaw at a hole this size until it is able to fit through it.
- Install sweep seals under doors to eliminate gaps
- Cap chimneys
And finally some rodent facts
- Rodents are the most successful mammals on earth after homo sapiens (no wonder you have a battle getting rid of them)
- Rodents are nocturnal when most of their enemies are inactive (including you!)
- Rodents are nearly blind and use their sense of touch for guidance.
- Rodents react negatively to food that makes them ill. It only needs to happen once for them to remember, so if the poison doesn’t kill them they won’t touch it again
- Rodents have a kinesthetic sense. They create memory of the environment and how to move through it without looking.
- Rats can chew through anything. Their teeth can exert a force of up to 3000kg per square inch
- From a standstill rats can vertically jump nearly 1/2 metre