Quick Guide: Rat and Mouse Control
Published: Feb 23
In the United Stated there are three main types of rodents that live in residential and commercial areas. These are the Norway rat, the Roof rat and the House mouse. Also known as Commensal Rodents, for being able to live in a symbiotic relationship where the rodents benefit while the humans are not affected by their presence. Each one of this rodent types although similar in many aspects, they are very different from each other. I will try to provide a basic quick guide for their identification and control, which can be very useful for home owners and property managers alike.
Distinguishing them apart can sometimes be very tricky as their damage is at times very similar. However, if you are able to trap a specimen you will be able to do this more easily. Here are some characteristics of Norway Rats, Roof Rats and House Mice:
- Norway Rat
- Tail is longer than the size of the head and body.
- Body is light and slender
- Ears are large
- Eyes are large
- Muzzle is pointed
- Roof Rat
- Tail is shorter that the size of the head and body
- Body is heavy and thick
- Ears are small
- Eyes are small
- Muzzle is blunt
- Young Rat
- Sometimes confused with mice
- Feet and head are large
- House Mouse
- Feet and head are small
However, as mentioned before rodents have many similar characteristics. A great example of this is that they are Neophobic, which means they have a fear of new things. This is one of the main problems that you will come across when trying to exterminate or control them. Another characteristic that they have is that they are nocturnal species. This means that the majority of their foraging activity will be while humans are usually sleeping, and they are less likely to be noticed or seen. Depending on the gravity and location of your problem, a night watch might be in order. Thirdly, commensal rodents have a poor sense of sight, and a very acute sense of touch. This is a great example of how are able to move so easily and effectively in the dark, combine it with the great memory rodents have and you have great exploratory species.
In order to control it, I would highly recommend the advice and a remediation plan from a licensed pest control professional. This will avoid you doing a lot of the dirty work, headaches and fights with those rodents. As part of the initial inspection he will be trying to spot any signs of their nests, runways, dropping and pee as well as their feeding and drinking habits. He will then discuss with you the different options that are available for your specific situation. It will normally include one or more of the following control methods:
- Live Trapping
- An effective and non-toxic method to capture rats. Often able to control larger rodent infestations as they do not kill the rats, therefore the remaining ones do not become afraid or hesitant of it.
- Snap Traps
- This is the most common method to control rodent problems on the interior of structures and residences. This is due to the fact that it will normally kill the rat on the spot, and if secured properly, removal of the dead specimen is easier. This is because they do not go and die in inaccessible areas, which can cause a very unpleasant smell.
- Another very common and effective control method. This is normally used on the exterior of structures, and can be done using a variety of toxic baits which are normally installed inside of child and pet proof bait stations. These baits can be grain-like or pressed into a block. Rodents will accept both types, however block-pressed bait is recommended as they will not be able to carry it out and store it in an easier to reach location.
- Glue Boards
- A not as common method of control. Sometimes used for small or hard to reach places like around pipes, and electrical entry points. Not recommended for interior use where children commonly stay at, this is because trapped rats tend to cry very loud, and even brake off a piece of their body to try to get away leaving a blood bath behind.
Another important step in controlling rodent populations is exclusion, which means closing off any areas where they might be able to access your structure. Some example of this are:
- Installing a metal barrier on cables running to close to the structure
- Installing a hardware cloth curtain wall on storage structures
- Blocking off wall void spaces with concrete, bricks or sheet metal
- Sealing off opening around pipes with concrete or sheet metal
- Sealing off drains with hardware cloth
- Rodent proofing doors by installing metal covers on the sides and bottom of it
- Sealing off vents with hardware cloth
- Installing plastic tubes around utility wires to limit building access
- Sealing off air vents and chimneys with hardware cloth
Creating a cleaner and less dense environment will as well assist you in the fight against them, this will give them less places to hide and create nests. And of course food and water source removal, this means no more pet food outside, no open unfinished candy bars on the floor or maybe cleaning up and rodent proofing any fruit trees you might have.
Hopefully this quick guide assists you in controlling commensal rodents in your structure. Give us a call or send us a message today and we will try to assist you even further by creating a customized solution plan for your problem and implementing those solutions in order to control them.
Gilberto A. Cortez
California Licensed Operator and Contractor