Uninvited guests can be painful, especially when they start eating in the pantry and leaving poop all over the house.
Lately, pest controllers are noticing that more rodents survive the winter and are making themselves comfortable in people’s homes. Mice and rats are experts at finding a way inside for the same purpose as any other animal: food and shelter. But they can transmit dangerous diseases to humans, so it’s important to stop them before they take hold.
Cherokee Pest Control’s Tyler Nipper said mice could flatten their bodies and squeeze their way through holes much narrower than their actual size. You will find holes near crawl spaces, around pipes and where equipment comes into the house.
“We’re suggesting that people take steel wool and plug those holes with it,” said Nipper. “Then you can use the aerosol spray foam after you’ve wrapped the steel wool. This spray foam holds that wool in place and it expands.”
Spray foam is available from hardware stores, and some are specifically designed to block rodents. However, homeowners should use both the foam and steel wool as rodents can chew through the foam themselves.
The industry term for preventing rodents from entering the home is “exclusion,” said Nipper. Some houses are easier to seal than others. Older houses are often in disrepair and require more barricades.
Because winters in Oklahoma are not regularly exposed to freezing temperatures, the rodent population has increased in recent years.
“We saw an increase in mice and rodents,” said Nipper. “It’s not hard enough to kill some of them, so the mouse and rodent population has increased fairly steadily over the past six years.”
Once rodents get in, they can be difficult to get out of, so many people have taken a proactive approach. Nipper said while some people may not approve of the method, rodenticide – rat poison – is the best way to alleviate the problem.
“The most effective way is to bait the outside of your home,” he said. “They’re a plastic box and they come in different ways and they can be attached in different ways. There are holes on each side and you put them next to a structure and you put the bait in them. “
When rodents drive along the wall at night, they pass the bait box and eat the rodent. They will die in a day or two before entering the house. According to Nipper, Cherokee Pest Control has accounts where they haven’t had to use bait boxes for the past four or five years. He said he has never had a situation where a child or family pet ate the rat poison, but every situation is different and homeowners should consider such things.
Once they find their way into the house, traps will be necessary. While cats have long been known for their rodent hunter skills, Nipper said nine out of ten cats won’t get the job, and he doesn’t suggest getting a cat simply for that reason.
“You are using this cat almost as a tool rather than a companion,” he said. “Most of the time, they will be disappointed with the results. All cats no longer have that in them. Then people don’t care about the cat, don’t want to feed it or try to dispose of it. “
The best traps, Nipper said, are the old-school snap and sticky traps. Everyone has a caveat, however, and snap traps are more humane.
“If you go in and put those sticky boards off, all the mice have to do is run into them and they’ll stick with them,” said Nipper. “But they live there for days before starving and dying of exhaustion. So there are people who don’t like that and I respect that. Hence, the old school snap traps would be a better option. “
The snapshots work; Nipper uses them professionally and personally. But it’s not uncommon for annoying mice to steal the bait like cheese or peanut butter. So it can be wise to use multiple types of traps.
“Somehow they can sit there and gently chew that stuff off the trigger and they never trip,” said Nipper. “So that can happen, if they had a stick of glue right next to them, they wouldn’t have gotten away.”