Author: Darren K. Thompson
We\'ve all seen the nature documentaries, showing a category of mammal - small, brown, short lived, breeds in huge numbers. Whether they\'re rats, mice or another rodent, they\'re all pests that can do a number on your home, your family\'s health and your garden.
Mice in the attic aren\'t \"cute little fuzzies\" - they\'re one of the leading causes of household damage in the world, with estimated damages in the billions. How can something so small be so expensive? Well, rodents in general breed quickly, and can have multiple litters of a dozen or more young each year. They also have teeth that need constant grinding down; they solve this problem by gnawing on things. In the wild, these things tend to be tree stumps or roots as they burrow. In your home, they\'re plumbing fixtures and wiring runs. Rodents are one of the major causes of short circuits, leaking pipes and insulation failures.
Another problem is that rodents aren\'t sanitary, at all. They defecate everywhere they go, and since they like to live in your crawl spaces, this happens in places where you\'re not going to see it...until it gets overwhelming. Even worse, they use urine as a bonding material when they make nests; this keeps the nest warm, but makes parts of your baseboard smell like rat pee. It doesn\'t take much for rodents to make your home into theirs.
The danger of rodents in your home extends to the many diseases they carry. Potential diseases that rodents carry include:
Rickettsial Pox - A disease similar to chicken pox transmitted from the mites commonly found on rodents.
Food Poisoning - Specifically salmonella is contracted when food comes into contact with saliva, urine, or droppings of rats and mice.
Parasites such as tapeworms and trichinosis - A rodent problem increases the risk of infection by these parasites.
The Hantavirus - This is spread when dust containing rodent droppings or urine is inhaled. It is potentially deadly and whilst once thought to be a rare disease it is making a recent comeback.
Rat-bite fever - As suggested by the name this rare disease is transmitted through rodent bites.
The plague (pneumonic and bubonic) - This disease, carried by fleas and other mites that live on rodents, is thought by many to have been eradicated centuries ago; however cases are still reported today.
Now that you know some of the dangers let us look at some possible solutions to keep you and your home safe from the dangers that rodents pose.
First, there\'s keeping them out in the first place, or making your home unappealing. Look for any cracks or holes or loose plumbing fittings at about two feet or less from the ground; rats and mice can squeeze through improbably small spaces, and their usual avenue into the home is climbing the plumbing. Taking some time with a caulking gun can pay major benefits.
If you\'ve got direct infestation evidence, get a cat, or a ferret, something that naturally preys on rodents. Even the most heavily infested house can be made free of rodents with a couple of adolescent to early adult cats, and they\'ll do it very quickly - about a week or so.
The next best option, if you can\'t bring in a predator, is a sticky trap, or a spring-trap. Sticky traps have glue on them to catch rodents; spring traps will try to snap their necks very quickly and humanely. If you need to bait traps, yogurt covered peanuts are the best kind of bait; also good candidates are peanut butter and bits of bacon. (In general, if it\'s high in fat and salt, a rodent will love it.)
If you only have a few unwanted rodents running through your house then the aforementioned methods will most likely suffice. For larger infestations however it may be wise to call in a professional to ensure that the job gets done quickly, safely and effectively.
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