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Be On the Lookout: How to Prevent a Rodent Infestation

Preventing rodents from entering your home in the first place is very important and there are several precautions you can take to ensure this does not happen. First, it is very important to close any holes in the walls of your home. Since rats can fit through a half-inch hole and mice can fit through a quarter-inch hole, it is imperative that even the smallest holes are sealed. It is also recommended that the doors used most often on a home have self-closing devices on them. Another prevention method is installing vinyl or runner sweep seals under garage doors to prevent rodents from entering through any gaps. In addition, tightening the seals around pipes, drains, and vents and capping and maintaining chimneys will help to block possible entryways into your home. Materials that can help block entryways are: steel wood hardware cloth (19-gauge or better), perforated metal (24-gauge thickness), sheet metal (26-gauge or better), and cement mortar (1:3 mixture or better).

Another way to prevent a rodent infestation is to make the environment around your home less favorable to a rodent. This can be done in several ways, particularly by: taking away food and water sources, keeping vegetation around the home cut short, eliminating shade by cutting branches, removing garbage and clutter from the exterior of the house, keeping the house and yard clean, and putting a barrier of cement or crushed rock (approximately two feet wide) around the house. Additional ways include: stacking firewood at least eighteen inches off of the ground and away from the home, keeping food sealed in tight containers that rodents cannot chew through, not composting animal products, not leaving pet food outside (even birdseed should be out of reach of rodents), and ensuring that branches over the roof of your home are cut back so roof rats cannot use them as an access point to your home.

Lastly, it is important to also keep your sewer pipes clean. To do this, keep your kitchen sink clean and minimize garbage disposal use. It is a good idea to thoroughly rinse your kitchen sink once or twice a month with either a cup of bleach or a cup of baking soda followed by a cup of vinegar. No matter which solution you use, follow it with boiling water.  In addition, do not dispose of grease in the drain or keep your toilet lid open, as rats have been known to follow pipes to the toilet bowl.

For the types of rodents, procedures to follow to get rid of rodents, and how to properly clean after a rodent infestation, be sure to read the next blogs in the series.