How to Get Rid of Rats and Mice?

Brown mouse sitting on grass outside

There are a few different ways that you can take the fight to the rodents when it comes to defending your home. Start with always wiping down food preparation surfaces, regularly taking out the garbage and sealing any gaps or cracks that make for an easy entry point. These are just a start, firstly though you need to determine if you have a problem and just how large the infestation is. Read on to find out more information about this pest and how best to protect your home.

What are the signs of an infestation?

Here are some common signs to look for when you think you might have a rodent problem, starting with the most common you’re likely to find droppings on the ground and behind your fridge or stove, you’ll often see food containers or packaging that have been chewed on and even hear scurrying and quiet footstep sounds at night. 

Mouse next to chewed fraying wire with rodent droppings
Mice and Rats both chew on wires

Aside from being natural pests, they can bring a whole lot of issues for you, your family, your home, and our native wildlife. It is common for rodents to carry a range of diseases that can be very harmful to us humans. Rat-bite fever, which happens when an infected rat bites or scratches us, is particularly nasty. They also carry fleas and ticks that are usually only found outdoors. Plus, a more hazardous problem rodents have been known to cause is to the actual physical structure of your home.

Did you know: Their unique teeth are stronger than copper and iron meaning not only can they give a very nasty bite, they can often chew through walls, electrical wiring, furniture and fabrics!

What’s the standard lifecycle of rats and mice?

Here is where your problems can go from bad to worse. All it takes is 3 weeks of being pregnant for a rat to have a litter of her own and she can give birth to over 10 pups in a single litter. In fact in one year alone a female rat can produce around 1500 offspring, so when you see one or two in your home it could quickly become hundreds. 

Mice begin to breed at one to two months old. Their litters tend to be smaller than rats but are far more frequent meaning that their populations can increase even more rapidly.

Why do rodents come inside?

The number one reason why you are finding rats and mice in your home is because they themselves have found an accessible food source.These furry little rodents are not at all picky when it comes to eating, uncovered food, leftovers, even garbage is on the menu. 

Seasonality can also be a factor, when we come around to winter and it gets colder outside they will look to come inside to share in the warmth of your home. Alternatively during the warmer summer months, they will attempt to infiltrate due to outside food sources being scarce as well as needing safety from predators.

How to prevent rodents from invading my home?

Mouse caught in outside cage trap
Mouse in Trap

The following tips are all good places to start when it comes to preventing rodents setting up shop in your house and stopping the intrusion before it becomes a problem.

Cutting off their food source - Be sure to cleanup after cooking, food preparation and meal times, wipe down all surfaces with cleaning products so that they cannot catch a scent of available food. From now on sealable tupperware is your friend, if you have any leftovers then place them in a secure container and either shut away in the refrigerator or on a shelf away from the ground. As mentioned before, both rodents will happily eat garbage, so you should frequently take out your rubbish and place inside your outside garbage bins. 

Reduce their habitat and movements - Clear away any weeds, overgrown grass, rubbish and other possible objects that could provide hiding places for rodents around the outside of your home and on your property in general. They have no trouble with climbing, in fact they are experts when it comes to traversing obstacles, so where needed cut away any branches or move objects that could give an access route onto a roof or outside wall. Finally fill any holes or gaps from both outside the house and inside, make it as hard as possible for them to find a way in.

If you believe you have a small number already inside we would recommend taking the following actions along with the preventative measures - 

Baits and Traps - we suggest using a mix of both rat or mice traps as well as anticoagulant baits (these have a low toxicity for humans and pets). These products can be found at most supermarket and hardware stores, be sure to read the labels and instructions before using.

Rat in a house carrying food in its mouth
Rat with Food

How can I eradicate rats and mice found in my home?

If you find yourself coming up against an infestation, it might be time to call in the professionals. Though the tips mentioned can help, rats are extremely difficult to get rid of once they have made a home in or around your property and because they are social creatures, once they get comfortable they will start to breed quickly. Even if you haven’t seen them in or around your house that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. If you are concerned, call your local JAE team, the experts in getting rid of pests like mice and spiders in New Zealand.