When it comes to rodents, prevention is always best.
As winter approaches, rats and mice are setting their sights on the warmth and shelter of your home. They can damage property and spread diseases, so it’s incredibly important to control them early.
Our hot Australian summers are a breeding paradise for rodents, so you’ll need to prepare for hordes of the critters! Take the first step to seal off any cracks or gaps that they could get through – heating, air conditioning, plumbing, gas, electrical and communication lines provide some of the most common rodent entry points. If you can fit your thumb through a gap, then assume that a rat can squeeze through it. If it can accommodate a pencil, that’s enough for a mouse!
In Australia, there are two types of rats to keep your eyes out for:
- Black Rat – grows up to 24cm long with a pointed nose, large ears and slender body; they are good climbers and like moist fruits.
- Brown Rat – grows up to 40cm long with a thicker body, small ears and blunt nose. They prefer cereal, but are omnivores.
The other main rodent pest is the house mouse. They are partial to nesting among stored materials.
Rats and mice can be very persistent and if they manage to gain access to your home, they can damage your home’s insulation, chew through floor joists and walls, cause fires by chewing on electrical cables, and can even undermine hill sides, retaining walls and other similar structures. Rodents incisors grow continuously, that’s why they have to gnaw. If they don’t gnaw and keep their teeth short and usable.
Rats are nocturnal, so daytime sightings are usually rare. When inspecting your house for potential rodent entry points, look for rub marks, droppings, tracks or gnawing.
Rats and mice have sharp incisors that can chew through a wide variety of materials – including lead and aluminium sheeting, wood, rubber, fibreglass, vinyl, plastic and even low-grade concrete. Don’t forget to follow your nose – rodents leave a trail of urine that smells distinctly pungent and unpleasant.
If you can deter rodents you will also reduce the damage they can cause to your home and avoid the health risks associated with their exposure:
- Food safety – Be careful not to attract rodents with food. Where possible food should be stored in plastic or metal containers. Regularly clean under stoves, refrigerators and cupboards.
- Doors – Fit bristle strips to the bottom of doors to prevent entry, especially in older properties where the door fit may not be snug.
- Pipework – Seal holes around existing or new pipes with coarse grade stainless steel wire wool and caulking (pliable sealant).
- Holes – These are often made in exterior walls for cables and pipes; check that old pipework holes are sealed too.
- Air Bricks and Vents – Cover these with fine galvanised wire mesh, especially if they are damaged.
- Eaves – Fix damaged roofing and use wire mesh to seal gaps.
- Vegetation – Trim tree branches back from the house and where possible avoid plants growing up the sides of your property. Vines, shrubs or over hanging branches can be used for mice to get onto roofs. Overgrown vegetation close to the walls will offer mice shelter and potential nesting sites.
- Lawns – Keep grass mown short to reduce shelter and seeds for food. Ideally leave a gap between the building foundations and the garden.
Professional solutions can guarantee to quickly and safely remove mice from your home. Solutions can be tailored to each unique problem and can also offer effective deterrent methods to avoid a re-infestation. Getting professional treatment at the earliest sign of a problem can greatly help to reduce the length of time needed to effectively control an infestation.