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14 Ways to Prevent a Rodent Infestation

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on LawnStarter.

Whether you just moved into your home or your restaurant has been open for years, you want to avoid sharing your space with rats or mice — and that’s easy if you eliminate the conditions that attract rodents.

Why you don’t want rats and mice around should be obvious. They spread diseases like hantavirus and salmonella and destroy your property. Rodents can be dangerous to your health, your home — and threaten your restaurant’s livelihood.

Leave the rat named Ben in the movies, and keep that “chef” from “Ratatouille” out of the kitchen.

Consider the following 14-point checklist to eliminate conditions that attract rodents.

1. Block Entrances

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Seal any holes or cracks in your roof and siding, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises. Small rats can fit through a hole about the size of a quarter.

2. Remove Debris

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Keep debris away from your home, office, or place of business, as rats and mice will chew on just about anything.

3. Cover Trash

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Cover garbage cans – indoors and outside – by placing the lids as tightly as possible.

4. Keep a Clean House

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Clean floors and counters regularly.

5. Store Pet Food Properly

Cat eating food
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Store pet food with tight lids in metal or glass jars.

6. Close Off Your Fireplace

Fireplace inspection and cleaning by a chimney sweep expert
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Close your fireplace damper when it’s not in use. Invest in a mesh-covered chimney cap (allows smoke through while keeping small intruders out) and inspect it twice a year to make sure it’s in place.

7. Eliminate Nesting Places

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Get rid of potential nesting sites, like leaf piles and deep mulch in your yard.

8. Keep Firewood Off the Ground

Couple carrying firewood
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Raise your woodpile off the ground using cement blocks, bricks, or firewood grates.

9. Cover Compost

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Completely cover fresh food scraps when adding them to your compost pile.

10. Put Away Pet Food

Dog food bowl
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Don’t feed pets outside or leave pet food out overnight.

11. Don’t Store Trash

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Haul away trash – do this yourself or hire someone.

12. Clear Space Near Your Home

Man pruning bushes
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Maintain at least a 2-foot space between shrubs and bushes and the exterior walls of your home.

13. Clean Outdoor Cooking Areas

Man cooking steak on a grill
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Keep grills and outdoor cooking areas clean.

14. Trim Trees

A quiet street in Atherton, California
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Trim trees and keep limbs off your home. Branches that touch your house are a pathway to the attic for rodents. Eliminate ivy, as well, for the same reason. Imagine Tarzan as a mouse or rat swinging on a vine into your home.

Rise of the Planet of the Rats

Rodent infestation
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After hurricanes, rats return in droves to cities, scientists have observed. It’s the same thing after pandemic shutdowns closed restaurants and bars for a time. Life now is returning more to normal for people and pests, too.

Rat sightings in New York City were up almost 30% from 2019 in New York City, The New York Times reported. And Arkansas has sued Family Dollar over the rat infestation that closed one of its warehouses and briefly shuttered hundreds of stores.

Ehrlich Pest Control entomologists have predicted that rats would live their best lives in 2022.

“Mice and rats are still kings,” Godfrey Nalyanya, board-certified entomologist for Ehrlich told Yahoo News at the start of the year. “We’re seeing a large increase in both mice and rats, and the populations are increasing.”

Why will mice, rats, and many species in between continue to plague homeowners and businesses for the foreseeable future? Yes, you can blame global warming.

Warm winters allow for a longer breeding season, and wildfires and flooding – and other natural disasters like hurricanes – lead all sorts of pests to find new homes. Even the construction booms in cities are to blame as rodents scurry and scamper to find new homes.

How to Spot a Rodent Infestation

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You may never see the actual rodent, but there are telltale signs they are living in your attic, walls, or anywhere else inside your house or business.

  • Rodent droppings under the sink, in the garage, or in the attic
  • Shredded paper or trash
  • Holes in walls and floors
  • Musty smells in rarely used areas
  • Electrical problems. Rodents chew through nearly everything, including wiring. This can lead to malfunction of your home’s electrical system or, worse, create a fire hazard.
  • Higher power bills. Rats tear up insulation, creating higher heating and cooling bills.

Rodents Lead to Other Pest Problems

man looking for bed bugs
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Where there are mice and rats, you’ll often find roaches and ants, but rodents can also lead to a flea problem.

Why? Fleas are common on rodents, so common that the CDC recommends wearing an EPA-approved flea repellant when trying to get rid of rodents.

How to Get Rid of Rodents

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Eliminating conditions that attract rodents is the best way to avoid a slew of problems, but maybe you let your guard down and the rodents inside your home or business.

You can try DIY methods to get rid of mice or to get rid of rats, but for a quicker and surer solution, call a local pest control pro to show Mickey and Minnie, and Ratzo the door.

But if you don’t take the steps listed above, rats! The little buggers will find their way back to your home.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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