Enemies with Tails

Enemies with Tails

The wife screams while standing on the couch, the husband swings a broom hitting everything except what he aimed for and then comes the question, “Did you get it?”. Many of us have seen this situation or been in this situation before. While there are many methods to deal with rats and mice, the best is certainly not with a broom.

During warmer months a person may have a rat/mouse issue but not notice it until the weather begins to cool. During the warmer months, rats/mice will spend a great deal of their time outside looking for food and water. As it cools down, they will spend less of their time outside and more time inside. Careful attention should be made to prevent them from ever getting inside. Mice can run along wires and cables, jump up to 13 inches, swim, and even squeeze through holes the size of a dime making it easy for them to get in places. If left uncontrolled, rats/mice can rapidly reproduce turning a small issue into a major problem. Signs of rats/mice may include small black droppings, small pieces of shredded paper, signs of gnawing, and a possible foul odor.

To prevent rats/mice from entering a building it is recommended that you…

  • Seal cracks and holes outside the building. (Especially around where utilities and pipes enter. *Steel wool can also be used to effectively plug up known points of entry.)
  • Store firewood at least 20ft away from the house.
  • Eliminate sources of moisture like leaky pipes and clogged drains.
  • Store dog and cat food in rodent-proof containers.
  • Try not to store boxes on the floor in basements or attics.

There are some products that are said to repel rodents. These products typically consist of cinnamon, peppermint, and spearmint oils.

Other common control methods of rats/mice include traps, rodenticides (baits), and even some fragrances are said to keep them at bay. When placing any form of trap, it is important to identify where the rats/mice are traveling, because even a good trap will not work if in the wrong place. Rats/mice will typically run along walls when traveling and that should be where traps are placed. If an area shows signs of rats/mice, this would also be a good place to put a trap. If using a “snap trap”, an opportunity should be provided for the rats/mice to become used to it. By placing the trap and not setting it for a day or two, they will become used to the trap. When using any form of trap, it can be beneficial to “bait” them to encourage the rats/mice to come to it. Moldy cheese and fish make great baits. There are attractants that can be purchased, but if you have seen where the rat/mice have rummaged through a food source that can also be used. Some stores also carry live catch traps typically for mice. These traps will keep the mouse entrapped until you release them away from the house.

Baits are one of the most used forms of controlling rats/mice. If you have recently gone to the store and were set back about the large quantity you had to buy to get the same product as before, here is why. If you notice, many of the smaller rodenticides also come with a container that you are to place the product in while large quantities do not. The thought behind this is that the large quantity will be used industrially, while the smaller one will be placed in an area that could have kids and/or pets. Active ingredients commonly used in baits include warfarin, bromethalin, diphacinone. Placement of baits should be the same as traps, place in areas where they are likely to travel or where you know they stay around.

Do not forget that having a good “barn cat” can also be beneficial in controlling rodents and other wildlife that may be a bother. If a serious problem exists do not hesitate to contact a pest control professional.

For more information on rodents and other pests, contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at (936) 560-7711, or visit our website at https://nacogdoches.agrilife.org.

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