For starters, the common house mouse, Norway rat and roof rat are the three species that will live with humans. We have all three in Georgia. There are some easy signs that you can be on the lookout for when detecting rodent issues. The obvious is droppings. Mouse droppings are the size of rice grains and rat droppings are the size of raisins. If you smell a strong, urine appearing odor, this could be from mice.
Hearing gnawing or scratching sounds in attics or walls is a good sign of rodents too. If you suspect rodents, you need to inspect your food items. Chewed edges of boxes and teeth marks on items is about as definite as you can get. If you determine you have a rodent problem, here are some suggestions.
Taking away food sources is the best way to start. Trash can lids need to be tight and secured. Do not leave pet food out all night. Mice and rats will gladly feed on uneaten pet food. Next, remove hiding places. Keep grass mowed to proper heights, keep trash unavailable and keep piles of wood, rocks and other debris to a minimum. Remember, rodents would rather not see you. If you remove hiding places on the outside of a structure, you may not see them on the inside.
Sealing up potential entry spots is a great idea too. Mice and rats can enter through openings about the size of a dime. Mengak suggests keeping doors and garage doors closed. Seal openings under doors and cover windows with screens. Use cement or caulk around pipes and wires. Use dryer vent covers on the outside. Be mindful to check dryer covers regularly for proper air flow. You do not want lint to build up since it could become a fire hazard. You can also seal small holes with steel wool and then caulk over them.
What to do about your existing problem? Inside the home, traps are suggested and the glue boards can help too. Stay away from poison baits inside the home. Poison baits can be dangerous for children and pets so the traps and sticky boards are your best options. Most folks think you can only bait a trap with cheese, but this is not true. Mice and rats love peanut butter so that can be a good option. You can use other items with a strong odor like cooked chicken or even bacon according to Mengak. Rodents like to run along a baseboard or wall when traveling. Set your traps with the bait side at a right angle to the wall. You can buy mouse traps very inexpensively. If you suspect you have larger rats then you will need larger, stronger rat traps. Make sure rat traps are away from children. Keep trapping till you stop catching rodents.
Poison baits are for outside the house use and need to be used when you know you can keep away from children and pets. Some people will use them in work or storage sheds. Make sure you read the label of any poison bait for proper usage and any warnings. You will need to inspect every day for dead rodents and dispose of with disposable gloves. Normally after a few weeks of keeping the baits available, you should see a decrease in rodent feeding on the bait. Do not leave the bait out. It will spoil and continue to be a hazard for pets or children if left unattended. For more information contact
Gordon County Extension at 706-629-8685 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, in the next few weeks I will share information on an October class we will offer for our vegetable gardeners and people who like to can and freeze vegetables.