Dealing with a mouse or rat in your house?
Here’s some tips from the experts to get rid of pests
People have their own ways of dealing with pests that get inside their homes. Gregg Horne and Jean Little stick to the original snap trap for rodents invented in 1898. Little uses anything but cheese as bait. Tracy Bartle uses moth balls, while Michelle Daviau uses a live trap and releases the mice she catches back into the wild. GROWING PROBLEM Whether you choose to hire a professional to pest-proof your home so they can’t get inside or hire their services to deal with an infestation, pests like rodents are one of life’s inconveniences. As our cities move outward, we are encroaching more and more into the natural habitat of pests who regard our homes as a place to get an easy meal or to keep warm in the winter. Pests will not go away on their own and it is important to know the damage they can cause both to your health and property. DISEASES Rat or mice feces left on the food you consume can contain Salmonellosis, causing gastroenteritis symptoms that include severe vomiting and diarrhea and may lead to complications such as meningitis, septicaemia and endocarditis, all of which can be fatal. Leptospirosis can result when you come into contact with the urine of infected rodents. Symptoms of this disease may present as fever, body pains and jaundice. Rodents, which include mice and rats, can carry Hantavirus. It is acquired by inadvertently touching feces, urine or saliva of the infected rodent. Early symptoms include muscle and body aches with fatigue progressing to chills, headaches, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Hantavirus has a mortality rate of 38 per cent. Bed bug bites can cause allergic reactions, skin irritation and severe itching. Though technically not a disease, the presence of bed bugs can lead to sleeplessness, psychological distress and increased anxiety. DAMAGE TO HOME A study conducted by Forbes Home in 2022, found that “46 per cent of respondents said their homes have suffered structural damage as the result of a previous pest infestation.” Property insurance rarely covers any kind of damage due to pests, as the companies consider it to be maintenance and the responsibility of the homeowner. Mice, rats and raccoons are just a sampling of the vermin that can leave a trail of destruction in your home. Some of the damage they can cause includes: Chewing through any useful materials for building their nests including furniture coverings, linens, paper, wood, carpeting, clothing and even insulation. Upholstered furniture, piles of sheets or towels and your car seats are all attractive places for building nests. Whether exposed in the interior of your home, inside the walls or attic or under the hood of your car, wires are a favourite thing for mice to chew on which can lead to electrical problems in your home and costly auto repair bills Rodents are very obliging, leaving a scent trail for others to follow, indicating your house is a great place to find nesting materials and a good meal. HOW TO PREVENT To make your home unfavourable to pests, you need to take precautions to keep them from getting inside. Trevor Dewan of Orkin Canada, which has been in business in Canada since the 1950s, gives the following advice on how to recognize if you have rodent activity in your home: Seeing the actual rodents as they duck from one corner to another or dash from under a piece of furniture Droppings (which are soft when moist and hard when dry). Mice droppings are smaller, three to six millimetres long, rod-shaped like rice grains, often black in colour. Rat droppings are bigger, 12 to 20 mm long. Droppings will be in harbourage areas, such as behind the stove, fridge or pantry. Gnawing marks on surfaces and items, new/fresh gnaws are like new chiseled surfaces. Damaged products or goods, especially in the pantry or food that has been left out and open overnight. Nests, made of various materials (pieces of paper, tissues, sticks, etc.) inside insulation and furniture. Less obvious signs such as run marks (looks like grease marks), runways and sounds (squeaking or scratching) WHERE TO CHECK Adam Steeves of Adams Pest Control, with offices in Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton, N.B., as well as in Halifax, N.S., says there are a few places homeowners should be looking for signs of pests. Check in garage corners, along the walls and behind items for evidence of rodent droppings. Examine your door sweeps to ensure they aren’t also using this as an entry way. Take a look with a flashlight under the kitchen and bathroom sinks Use a light to see if they are coming in through basement corner areas MAKING YOUR PROPERTY UNATTRACTIVE TO PESTS Dewan advises the first step is to make your property ‘unattractive’ by denying pests the three elements they need to survive – food, water and shelter. Following these guidelines should make pests move on to a more hospitable home, he says. Eliminate yard clutter, which can attract pests, harbour them and provide optimal hiding spots. Store wood or items off the ground on platforms, keeping them at least 18 inches high. This discourages pests as it makes them feel exposed. Trim overgrown weeds, maintain landscaping and keep your lawn mowed short and neat. Do not store garbage outdoors in bags. If you keep your refuse outside, ensure it is in an enclosed bin with no way for pests to get inside. If there are fruit trees in your yard, clean fallen fruits promptly. They are an easy meal. Clean bird feeders promptly and do not allow food to build up on the ground. Do not leave food or treats for your pets outdoors. Even an unattended bowl of water can be tempting. Deny vermin entry indoors by sealing all gaps, holes in walls, around utility pipes, unscreened vents and cracks in the foundation. Ensure all door seals and window sills are tight with no gaps. Keep your garage door closed. Indoors, make sure cracks in expansion joints are sealed as well as gaps around utility line pipes. Store food in tightly sealed containers. WHAT TO DO IF THEY GET INSIDE If you discover a minor infestation in your home, there are several product options that can be found at your local department store or online. Be sure to follow all directions carefully. It is vital determine if products can be harmful to your pet(s) or humans, which it should clearly state on the label. Bypass any treatment option that does not specify this information. Even if you want to tackle getting rid of vermin on your own, Steeves says, “professionals have access to licensed products that are not available to personal consumers that can get your rodent problems under control.” Dealing with pests of any kind can be frustrating and time consuming; however, some clear-guided maintenance can keep the vermin out and save you a lot of hassle in the process.