USU Extension wildlife specialist details steps for preventing rodent infestations
Many Carbon County residents are searching for effective methods to rid homes of rodents.
Dealing with commensal rodents can create frustration, indicated Terry Messmer, Utah State University Extension wildlife specialist. Commensal describes animals typically found living near or with humans, explained Messmer.
Mice and rats are among the most widespread commensal wildlife species in Carbon County and across Utah.Â
With the onset of cold weather, mice and rats may enter buildings to search for food and shelter, pointed out Messmer. Rodents will eat a wide range of food. But mice and rats prefer foods high in fat and sugar. Favorites include chocolate, bacon, butter and nuts.
Most water requirements are filled by the food the rodents eat.
Because rodents are most active at night, rats and mice can roam undetected through a household, noted Messmer.
Sightings of the animals in the daytime may indicate people have a significant problem that needs to be addressed quickly.
In addition to nibbling on food, mice and rats can cause structural damage, advised Messmer.
Rodents also regularly urinate and defecate. The presence of droppings and musky smell of urine coming from cupboards or drawers can indicate that a significant number of rodents are present in the house.
To prevent mice and rats from taking over homes, garages and outbuildings. Messmer recommended that local residents:
â¢Take steps to prevent entry into the structures.
To exclude mice and rats from homes, garages and outbuildings, people should seal all holes and openings larger than one-fourth inch with materials like concrete mortar, sheet metal or heavy gauge hardware cloth.
People should also be aware of the fact that structures or doors with gaps greater than one-fourth inch offer open invitations to rodents.
â¢Make food as inaccessible as possible.
People should store bulk foods in rodent-proof containers.
People should also remove spilled food and crumbs. A leftover cookie behind the couch cushion can feed a mouse for more than a week.
â¢In most cases, mice and rats can be caught with wooden snap or glue traps.
Because rodents have poor eyesight with excellent senses of touch and smell, rats and mice tend to travel close to walls and objects.
Traps should be set close to walls where the rodents are usually active.
For effective control, set at least six or more traps in the house with small amounts of fresh bait.
Peanut butter and chocolate work well.
People should not use cheese since it tends to go rancid when exposed to the open air for several days, thus losing its attractiveness as bait.
People may also want to bait the traps without setting the devices for a day or so.
When people notice the bait has been taken, they should set the traps.
Because mice and rats can carry diseases, it is important to remove the carcasses from the structures as quickly as possible.
The carcasses should be buried or bagged and disposed of in an outside garbage container.
â¢Avoid using rodenticides or poisons to control mice and rats in homes.
Rodents that feed on poison baits may die in the home and, as the carcasses start to decay, the resulting odor may cause more problems.
Devices that repel rodents using electromagnetic or ultrasonic waves are widely advertised during the present time of year. However, there is no scientific evidence to support the manufacturers' claims that the devices work, pointed out the USU Extension wildlife specialist.
For additional information, Carbon residents may contact the county USU Extension office for a copy of the mice and rats bulletin.
Local residents may also visit the USU Extension website at http://www.extension.usu.edu.