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Rodenticides are an efficient means of rodent control, but many people are reluctant to use poisonous chemicals around the home, especially in the presence of children and pets. There are alternative methods of control, but you still need a measure of care and competence to obtain the most effective results. None of the methods are without risks.
In choosing a rodent removal method you should consider the scale of the infestation, the competence of the person carrying out the job, and the risks to other people, pets, and wildlife. Both live and dead rodents can spread infectious diseases and parasites. It is essential to back up every method of control chosen with prevention measures that deny rodents food and access to shelter, making sure they cannot return.
Rodent traps usually require the use of food bait to attract the rodent. Rodents have poor eyesight but a highly developed sense of taste and smell to locate food. Fresh food, preferably with an odor, will attract rats and mice close enough to be caught. They prefer cereal grains, meat, fish, and nuts, but will also eat many manufactured foods such as peanut butter, chocolate, fruit jelly, and cheese.
Rats will initially avoid anything new placed in their environment and then investigate it cautiously. This ‘fear of the new’ or neophobia can take a few days to overcome. If there is an adverse experience for the rodent, the shyness can last for weeks or months. With food bait, they may eat small amounts at first to test the flavor and any reaction before accepting it.
Placing traps with food, but not setting the trigger for a while will help rats and mice to overcome any trap and bait shyness. There are different types of traps you can use: spring/snap traps, live capture traps, electrocution traps, and glue/sticky boards.
Traps that are designed to kill rodents with a spring release need to be used with some skill to position correctly and avoid affecting other wildlife, pets, and children. These traps have some advantages over rodenticides for small infestations in small structures, like homes and garages, as they avoid the use of toxic chemicals and are inexpensive. With this type of trap, the user can easily see if a rodent has been caught.
A spring release trap should be placed in a rat or mouse run with bait. You may need to place them in several sites to target the pest population effectively and quickly. Spring traps do not always kill cleanly, so you must check them regularly to kill any trapped live animal humanely.
Live capture traps have a spring or electronic release catch that closes the door on a cage or container when an animal triggers the mechanism. As with the spring traps, the animals are lured by the smell of food. These traps are not always effective, because once caught, the property owner must release the rodent into the wild, therefore not guaranteeing that the rodents will not return.
Electrocution traps are enclosed traps that detect an animal entering, shut the entrance, and send a high-voltage electric charge through metal plates to kill the rat or mouse. The metal plates need to be kept clean to ensure an adequate charge is discharged through the rodent. These traps are expensive and not all can be used outdoors because they use mains voltage and lack protection from rain. As with other traps, you may need several and they need to be checked frequently to check for and dispose of any dead animals.
Glue boards are available in some countries but are considered inhumane by some experts. They are designed to immobilize an animal that walks on them. They are not as effective and are indiscriminate because they can trap other animals, including pets, snakes, birds, and bats, so they need to be checked regularly.
The animal is not killed by the trap, so you need to know how to kill the trapped animal humanely. Animals suffer pain and stress and can harm themselves while trying to get free from the glue. They can cover themselves in their own urine and feces while panicking and struggling to get free. If left, the animal will suffer from dehydration, starvation and exhaustion, dying within three to five days.
There is also a danger to you in handling the live animal. You can be bitten by the frightened, uncontained animal and contaminated by its urine and feces.
Rats and mice can hear and communicate using ultrasound frequencies higher than the hearing range of humans, dogs and cats:
In theory, high-volume ultrasound is able to repel rats and mice without affecting humans, cats, or dogs. However, ultrasound dissipates quickly with distance and is blocked by objects, so the sound is unlikely to travel far in a large and complex space — such as a house— therefore making it not as effective. There is only some evidence that ultrasound has a limited effect when used in very small spaces.
Rodents can be repelled by some smells, such as ammonia or mothballs. Some studies claim various plant scents can even repel them. However, no scents are truly effective because rodents quickly become used to them.
Cats and dogs can catch rats and mice, and there is a long history of breeding dogs, such as terriers, for rodent control around farms and homes. However, cats and dogs are not efficient controllers of rodent populations in urban areas as rats and mice can easily find places to hide from them. Well-fed pets in the home environment will have little incentive to hunt and they will not be able to access many of the places the rats and mice frequent in a home. Rats and mice can even thrive in the presence of pets, living off their food, especially when they are kept outdoors!
Overall, rodent traps and repellents are considered to be an effective way of controlling mice and rats. However, rodent populations grow rapidly, so even though you caught one, there could still be many more. The best option is to contact us for an inspection. We know where rodents nest and hide. We’ll take a look at your problem and discuss the best and safest treatment options for you, your family, and your property. Call us today at 800-837-5520.
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