As the days get colder Niamh Hennessy looks at ways to prevent rodents making themselves at home in your house
It’s that time of the year again when our furry friends will start to seek warmer locations to hang out.
The topic of mice and rats in our homes might send shivers down your spine but this is essential reading for anybody hoping to keep well away from them this winter.
Prevention, say the experts is step one in the process of keeping your house mice and rat free.
Dr Colm Moore from Rentokil said focusing outside is the best place to start.
“Make sure that your garden is tidy. Cut back overgrown vegetation. Get rid of any standing water in buckets and flower pots,” he said.
It’s important too to keep bins away from your house and keep doors and windows closed to avoid unwelcome visitors coming into your home, say the experts.
Inside the house it’s important that food is kept in sealed containers.
“Clean up spillages as soon as they occur. Do not keep rubbish in the house.
“If you have pets make sure that you store their food in sealed containers and that any uneaten pet food is disposed of and not left down in bowls.
“Insure that water tanks in attics have proper sealed covers,” said Dr Moore.
Over time rats and mice have evolved and adapted to live around humans. They enter our homes looking for food, water, shelter and somewhere to breed.
Dermot Bolger of Prokill Ireland said there are several signs that rodents are in your house.
First is a sighting, followed by a very distinctive and foul smell from their urine.
Next up is droppings. One mouse can release between 40 and 60 droppings a day. Also look out for damage to property and foodstuffs.
“Rodents’ teeth are continually growing so they need to gnaw on hard surfaces to keep them short and sharp. Typically they will gnaw on timber and electric cables,” said Mr Bolger.
Sound is often the main reason he gets called, according to Mr Bolger.
“At night when all is quiet the slightest scurry in your attic can sound amplified particularly if you don’t have insulation,” he said.
Some of the main tips Mr Bolger offers when it comes to keeping rodents away is blocking holes, proofing vent covers, good housekeeping and avoiding clutter.
“They will gain entry from open doors and windows, gaps around sewer, waste and soul pipes.
“Once they get into your cavity wall they can reach any part of the house with ease.
“Cats will often bring rodents into the house as trophies or just to play with. Sometimes the rodent gets away,” said Mr Bolger.
If you do see a rat or a mouse in your house the main advice from experts is not to panic.
They say rodents are more afraid of you and they certainly don’t want to share the same space.
“We often see stacks of firewood near the back door. Perfect harbourage for rodents.
“If you feed the birds at winter time place the feeders a distance from the house. Rodents love bird seed,” said Mr Bolger.
A mouse can squeeze through a 6mm hole, which is about the size of a pen.
A rat can squeeze through a 12mm hole.
To survive rats need to drink around 60ml and mice need to drink 3ml of water every day.
The gestation period for rats is 21 days, they can have three to six litters per year, with litter size of seven to eight.
Rats they reach sexual maturity at three months and their life span is nine to 12 months.
For mice the gestation period is also 21 days and also with litter sizes of around seven to eight per year, with up to 16 young per litter. They also reach sexual maturity in six to eight weeks.
“Mice are very inquisitive and therefore will explore their surroundings which aids treatment. Rats are Neophobic.
“This is a fear of new objects which can delay treatment for up to seven days,” said Mr Bolger.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved