Looking to avoid a rodent infestation? Follow these steps

Warm Irish weather has seen a rise in callouts to deal with rodents, say exterminators

Do you want to prevent a rodent infestation? Follow these steps. Photograph: iStock

Do you want to prevent a rodent infestation? Follow these steps. Photograph: iStock

 

There is a moment many people experience when they awake to the gentle noise of pitter patter, however in this weather homeowners will struggle to convince themselves it’s merely the sound of rainfall.

Perhaps you’ve been finding half eaten biscuits with all the family pleading innocent, or maybe your feline companions have had an unusual pep to their step over the last couple of weeks. The unavoidable truth will hit when someone spies dark droppings scattered across a hall rug or kitchen floor.

Yes, it’s the dreaded R-word – Rodents. These furry friends don’t just visit in the midst of the bitter Irish winter. But how do you avoid having your home become the prime summer destination for a rodent staycation?

It seems that although rodents usually don’t cross the domestic threshold until September, they too have been impacted by the summer sun this year.

“We are finding this year from talking to people in the field that there have been a few more rodent calls,” says Richard Faulkner, technical field consultant with pest experts Rentokil.

In April, May and June of 2018 Rentokil received a 26 per cent increase in callouts for mice and 18.5 per cent increase for rats when compared with the same period last year.

“We’ve had a lot of very mild weather the last few years”, and with that climate, Faulkner explains there tends to be more food on offer in their natural environment and thus less reason to outsource to your kitchen.

When approaching rodents there appears to be one cardinal rule - they’re just like us. According to Faulkner, all a chipper young mouse or rat dreams of is – “a stable environment”. He says “they want food, they want water, they want to shelter, and they want a mate the same things that we do”.

However, there are a few essential measures every household can take to keep these beady eyed creatures at bay.

‘Quite opportunistic’

“Rodents are quite opportunistic. If there is an open door then they’ll likely come in” says Faulkner. So it is imperative all doors and windows are kept tightly shut when not in use. In particular if you are living in an area with an environmental disturbance such as road works or construction.

Other precautions include filling in gaps around pipes and cables. Then it is all about restriction. “Taking food away, making sure you clean as you go, your food is up high in cupboards, that it is in properly sealed containers” he says.

It may not be the preferred activity during warm weather, but a clean home tends to be a rodent-free home. Faulkner warns “if you leave food out it’s going to cause opportunity” so make sure to clean up after that summer BBQ.

Bins are another major attraction for rodents. “A lot of people will have them at the back door, move them away the bins going to be the first attraction,” he says.

It is important to keep your garden cleaned and pruned. Faulkner warns vegetation can attract pests, so fruit should be picked from trees or quickly collected when it drops. Cutting back shrubbery and trees is essential to keep vegetation away from the building.

“Some people may have ornamental water features . . . that’s a water source especially in hot weather that’s going to attract pests into the area, into your garden” he says. Faulkner suggests people put chlorine or bleach into fountains etc, but stresses this is only suitable for non-drinkable features.

It can be difficult to discern which rodent you are co-habiting with, particularly considering these creatures tend to be nocturnal. A good way to solve this mystery is by examining any droppings you can find.

Mice droppings are thin and spindle-shaped at about a half-centimetre. They “almost look like little-burnt grains of rice” says Faulkner, whereas the common rat dropping is larger at around 1½ to 2cm. A mouse will tend to leave around 80 droppings a day and a rat 40.

A key difference between both pests, Faulkner outlines, is water. While a mouse can get away without drinking water if their food contains sufficient moisture a rat is not as lucky. They require 60 ml of water daily. “So if you take away water you can control the rodent to a point,” he says.

While Faulkner advises people to follow the above criteria, he agrees traps are an acceptable way to cull a small population of rodents, but explains it will not resolve the issue. “The problem is always going to be finding the entry point and making sure it is rat sealed.”

To ensure you don’t attract any unwanted guests take care to observe the above steps. And if in doubt, it is usually best to call a professional.

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