The common myth is that you are never more than six feet away from a rat. When you live in a heavily populated area such as a town or a city, there is a rodent lurking at any given time. We exaggerate this statistic a little, but it isn't too far off.
The truth is, rats and mice are ultimate opportunists. It doesn't matter where you live when it comes to them finding a place to nest and live. Rodents take any chance and take advantage of any nook and cranny. This goes for your home, workplace, or garden space - especially when the weather gets cold.
Pets are a great way to prevent rodents from taking residence where they're not wanted. Cats and some dogs will hunt rodents, but they'll also deter them from exploring the area. If you don't have a furry friend and need to get rid of furry enemies, there are other options.
Prevention Is Priority
All animals, not least vermin like rats and mice, look for a reliable food source. Rats, in particular, are capable of chewing through almost anything. They can make their way through wood, concrete, metals, and even glass! So, the best way to minimise their impact is to remove everything you can that is even remotely edible from the surrounding areas.
Sometimes, there is little you can do about rubbish bins and outhouses. But, if you suspect the presence of rats and mice, then removing bird feeders from back gardens is a start. Do you grow food or use food waste for natural compost? Relocating or temporarily or entirely ceasing this is vital to stop them from coming back.
Long grass and overgrown bushes and trees are the perfect hiding places for rats and mice. It's a good idea to keep these trimmed to prevent creating a handy hideout for rodents. You can cut grass can with a standard rotary mower. You can take care of edging with a strimmer or brush cutter. Hedges and bushes are thicker and potentially more troublesome to manage. Tree and hedge trimmers would help with the job.
Removing Those Rodents
This one's for anybody who has ever lived with a rodent infestation. The scratching sound from your walls and ceilings that plague you day and night. This noise is a sure-fire sign that you have a problem. But, when you go looking for the source, these little nightmares are nowhere to be seen. So, what do you do?
The most obvious ways of getting around it include different types of traps. Humane and snap traps are available on the market. But, it's almost impossible to predict the movements of mice and rats, so they can often be ineffective.
Putting traps in the best place for the situation can be critical.
You can lay down poison where you can hear them in a more "scattergun" approach. Otherwise, you can out traps anywhere you notice signs of rodents. Look for droppings and rubbings on skirting boards and walls, and focus there. Place traps perpendicular to the walls, with the trigger facing the surface.
A lot of properties has standard shredded material/wool insulation. If you can hear rats and mice making themselves comfortable in there, chances are you are too late, and they've already established a nest. If you put poison down, the rats might eat it (which is good if killing them is what you need). But, the reality of the situation is bleak.
After consuming the poison, the rat will then return to its nest deep within your insulation. If it dies while it's in there, you can wave goodbye to that area for the next few weeks. The body will decompose, giving off a terrible smell, and believe me, you'll never find it. Without sounding too morbid, if it happened to have any babies in the nest, they too will die, making the smell ten times worse.
If you don't think there's a nest, you don't have this kind of insulation, or you're willing to take the risk, you can put poison down. It might do the trick. But, there are other ways of removing and preventing a return for these furry nuisances.
Stopping The Source
If you have shredded insulation, you can remove and replace it with solid insulation panels. Some local authorities still run schemes that renew insulation for free. But, if it's replaced with more soft materials, you'll end up right back where you started. So you might need to find the source of the rats and block it off.
Private companies supply solid insulation. It isn't cheap, but it more or less removes the chance of nest building, meaning that if rodents do get in.
Start figuring out the ways rats are getting in. Full-grown rats and mice can contort themselves into a while less than 3cm. So, there are many ways they can get in. The easiest entry point to prevent is the gap between your drainpipes and the wall. Rodents can squeeze between and climb up Mission Impossible-style! You can buy plastic guards cheap, or you can make them out of old plant pots or spare wood.
The second most common and more invasive way of getting in is through the sewers. If you think about it, if there is a break in one of your soil or drainage pipes, that's it. They're leading into your house, so rodents run through the sewers, up through the crack without even having to see the light of day.
Drain cameras can inspect your drains from the source. But, these are not always conclusive. A good preventative measure (which ended three years of constant infestations at the home of the writer of this article!) is a non-return valve. These valves sit at the entrance between the sewer/drain and the pipes leading into your house. They allow water and material to flow out into the sewer but don't allow anything to get in.
It can be difficult to reach these areas and is a dirty job. But, this is a cheap and effective way of removing the drains as an entry point for rodents.
As for lofts, it is important to keep the edges of your roof clear to allow ventilation. But, this gap is also an open door for vermin. Putting rolled-up chicken wire around the edges can be enough to make rodents think twice. They might even turn around and give up altogether!