The rats and mice in our homes, businesses and cities are a real problem because they:
Consume and contaminate food with their fur, urine and feces.
Start fires by gnawing on electric wires.
Are a vector for diseases such as: leptospirosis, hantavirus, pulmonary syndrome, rat bite fever and plague.
Can cause asthma and allergies.
Damage furniture, clothing and other valuable possessions.
Rodent control has three main aspects: sanitation, rodent proofing, and rodent trapping/baiting. Sanitation and proofing although costly, time consuming, and slow to show results, are the most important parts of rodent control. Conditions that foster the rodent problem must be eliminated.
Sanitation: The presence of garbage and other refuse allows rats to exist in residential areas. Good sanitation will not eliminate rats under all conditions, but will make the environment less suitable for them to thrive. This involves proper storage and handling of food materials and refuse, and elimination of rodent shelter.
While rodents find warmth and shelter inside structures, food is their first reason for living in and around structures.
Eliminate possible rodent food sources:
Keep food in rodent-proof containers with tight-fitting lids.
Clean up spilled food right away and wash dishes and cooking utensils soon after use.
Feed pets only as much as they can eat in a few minutes. Do not leave pet food or water bowls out overnight.
Rats can even live off pet feces, so pick up droppings daily.
Don’t scatter food for birds or squirrels. Place bird food in a feeder, not on the ground.
Clean up nuts and fruit from trees.
Vegetable gardens also can be a food source. Never let overripe vegetables remain in place.
Garbage should be placed in a thick plastic or metal garbage can with a tight lid. If storing trash and food waste inside the home, do so in rodent-proof containers, and frequently clean the containers with soap and water.
Keep compost bins 100 feet or more from the house.
Eliminate water: keep all drains covered and secure. Get rid of any standing water in the yard. Fix any defective pipes or drains.
And keep lids on toilets – rodents have been known to drink water, and even urine, from toilets, and can enter structures by swimming pipes and emerging from toilets!
Mice hoard food in inaccessible areas, so removal of known supplies may not reduce mouse infestations immediately.
Rodent Proofing: Seal any openings larger than 1/4 inch to exclude both rats and mice. Openings where utilities enter buildings should be sealed tightly with metal or concrete. Wood, plaster and caulk will not keep rats out. Equip floor drains and sewer pipes with tight-fitting grates that have openings less than 1/4 inch in diameter. Doors, windows and screens should fit tightly. It may be necessary to cover edges with sheet metal to prevent gnawing. Ideally, all places where food is stored, processed or used should be rodent-proof.
Rodent Control Resources
How to construct a Bait Box for poisoning rats (PDF)
Municipal Rodent Management - IDPH
Rodent Prevention & Control - IDPH
All about Hantaviruses - CDC
Rat and Mouse Control - University of Florida