We’re mainly concerned with preventing human-sized intruders gaining access to your home or business, but there’s a much smaller intruder that you also need to be aware of – rodents. Rats, mice and squirrels can cause a lot of damage to a property, not to mention being generally unhygienic and a real pest in the kitchen or for food businesses. As the weather turns colder, these outdoor rodents will be looking for somewhere warmer to spend time and find food and your home or business will be an attractive option.
Although rodents are more prevalent in rural areas, they are also a concern in urban environments, rats more so than squirrels or mice. Squirrels are the more destructive of these common household invaders as they will nest almost anywhere and can be quite vicious if they feel threatened or cornered. They will also chew through anything and everything – like all rodent species their teeth grow quickly and continuously, so they need regular use to keep them at the right length. This means anything the squirrels (or other rodents) can get to will become a chew-toy, including electrical wiring and pipes.
If you have tiny, unwanted visitors you can deal with the problem yourself if it is only a few mice getting in. There are humane and non-humane (snap) traps available that you can use to catch or kill rodents; these are generally the safest options for home use. Glue traps are not ideal as they cause distress for the animal that is stuck there and unable to move. Trying to unstick your unwanted guest can cause serious damage to the mouse or rat, so they are actually more inhumane than a snap trap which causes instant death. Poison and rodenticide can be ineffective if purchased over the counter, however, the professional pest controllers are licenced to use much stronger poisons. If you have several visitors, or you have tried to solve the rodent problem yourself to no avail, then call in the professionals.
The impact of rodents in the home should not be underestimated. There is the very real concern of illness being caused from their droppings but the problem of chewing through wires could prove fatal should they start an electrical fire. They could also chew through the wires of your burglar alarm system or get into the sensors, control panel or even into a CCTV camera and break these, rendering your alarm system useless and leaving you with the task of getting replacements and repairs done. In older properties and those in rural areas, a wireless alarm system can significantly reduce the chance of rodent damage to the system.
When you’re looking for how these pests are getting in, look at some of the things you’d check for full-sized thieves, just scale it down. Could the rats climb up a shrub or climbing plant that is near an open window or an air vent? Are there structural weaknesses in your doors or windows that wouldn’t let a person through, but would be big enough for a mouse? A gap of 1cm under a door, or a hole 2cm wide is ample for an adult rat to enter through, so don’t ignore small holes. Plugging these holes with something that can’t be chewed away is vital.
A professional pest controller can be invaluable when checking for potential entry points around your home. They’re used to finding the smallest gaps and easy entry routes for rodents to take and will notice things you will overlook. They’ll also be able to recommend the best ways to deal with a rodent problem, which may involve a combination of traps, poison and filling in gaps or pruning shrubs to stop rodents gaining access to your home. Remember, rats might not be out to steal from you, but they’re more determined to get in than the average burglar and can cause more damage.