Mice & Rats
Mice and rats are not only a nuisance - they can make children sick. They can increase the symptoms of asthma and allergies. Toxic chemicals used to poison them can also poison children.
Mice and rats often seek shelter in homes when it is less desirable to be outside. The onset of winter causes rats and mice to seek shelter where it's warmer. If there is abundant unsecured food or trash in the home, the mice will also seek it out. It doesn't take much of an opening for a mouse to get in a house. A crack under a door, an open vent, or cracks in the foundation are all it takes. A mouse can squeeze through a hole smaller than a dime. Rats can squeeze through holes that are the size of a quarter.
Who is at Risk?
Children are put at risk when poison baits are used to try to rid the home of pests. Mice and rats also carry a host of diseases. For people with asthma and allergies, mice and rats are problematic as their dander and feces are highly allergenic.
Signs of mice or rats living in the home include mouse droppings, holes in food packaging, gnawing, nests, or seeing the mice or rats themselves. Some people will exhibit allergic reactions to the presence of mice and rats, especially if the infestation is heavy.
Rodents and their droppings can spread diseases and viruses, including hantavirus, salmonellosis and rat-bite fever. They also trigger asthma and allergies.
Mice need food, water and shelter to survive. By removing these three things the environment will be less hospitable to them. Follow these steps to make your home mouse-proof.
- Keep all living areas uncluttered and clean.
- Eat in one area of the home to contain crumbs and food and to make clean up easier.
- Put all food, food scraps and pet food in tightly sealed containers.
- Keep trash in a sealed container.
- Mop and clean surfaces at least once a week.
- Fix all plumbing and water leaks.
- Seal all holes and gaps in walls, pipes, pavement, and other surfaces with caulk, steel wool, scouring pads, or spray foam to keep mice out.
In addition to changing the environment in the home, use traps to kill them. Spring-loaded mousetraps should be baited with peanut butter and placed in areas where is there is obvious mouse traffic. Traps should be checked daily. Dead mice should be immediately removed, and traps should be re-baited after catching a mouse. This practice should continue until no mice have been caught for at least a week.
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Mouse population graphic credit: National Center for Healthy Housing