Fall is quickly approaching, and while the temperatures may be pleasant now, it's only a matter of time before they begin to drop. As the cooler weather arrives, some outdoor critters look for warmer places to burrow for the winter. There's no more unwelcome visitor in your home than a rodent, who can destroy property and carry disease. Take some time this fall to rodent-proof your house so you don't get any unwanted guests this winter. Here are five steps to consider:
1) Keep Your House Clean. Mice love clutter. Boxes, piles of clothing, old furniture, stacks of garbage, you name it, they will burrow in it. It’s very easy to let a basement or closet accumulate clutter over time, but this is where rodents are most likely to live should they find their way into your home. Removing the clutter will help to eliminate hiding spots for the little guys.
Similarly, frequently vacuuming carpets and cleaning floors will help to remove small items that may attract mice. Crumbs, spills and dirt may not be clearly visible to you, but their scents will draw pests, so a quick vacuum every few weeks is a great way to cut down on the problem – Your human house guests will thank you as well.
2) Be Mindful of Food. Obviously, rodents are strongly attracted to the scents in your kitchen. They can find their way into your pantry and chew their way into boxes and bags. A good way to help damper the scent and prevent their entrance into your food is to use tightly-sealed storage containers. You can pour your grains, nuts or pastas straight into the plastic container and rest assured.
Keep your pet’s food in mind as well. Mice are not just attracted to what you and I eat; your furry friends’ meal can bring in pests just the same. While it may be convenient to leave their food on the floor all day, the best way to avoid problems is to store any leftover food in a plastic container.
Finally, make sure to properly dispose of any uneaten food and food packaging. Take your garbage out on a regular schedule and be mindful of spilled trash. Even once the smells have been removed from inside your house; garbage sitting outside your home for extending periods of time can attract the mice to your property, which will eventually lead them inside your home. Just like limiting the clutter, limit the trash buildup.
3) Check for cracks and gaps on your home's exterior. Mice, rats and other rodents can sneak their way through holes as small as a quarter. While it's obviously impossible to find every single gap in your home leading to the outside, mending noticeable holes is a great place to start. Using wood, cement, caulk or weather strips on these holes, gaps and doorways not only helps with rodents, but will help tremendously on your energy costs once you turn the furnace on.
4) Use Traps and Deterrents. Despite your best efforts, you might find yourself in a situation where mice have still found their way into your home. If this happens, there are plenty of humane ways to repel or trap the mice to remove them from your house. Live traps baited with peanut butter or cheese will lure the mouse into a small cage, allowing you to release them outdoors upon trapping.
Repellants such as mint, bay leaves and mothballs can be sprinkled around the house to deter mice from entering. Be aware that mothballs are poisonous for humans and our pets, so make sure no children or other animals will get near them if used.
5) Call a professional. While many of us prefer to take care of issues in our homes ourselves, sometimes the problem can get out of hand. If there is a recurring issues, don't hesitate to contact a local pest-control company. While it may cost more than DIY options, these professional will ensure the rodents are properly removed and help eliminate any future threats of their return.