It’s the time of year when one particularly pesky problem nearly always arises. This reader’s question sums it up nicely.
“When the colder weather sets in, I sometimes get mice or rats in my house. I assume they are looking for a warm place to settle in and find food, but they aren’t welcome here! How can I deter them this year?”
My reader is right - her rodent problem absolutely has to do with the little buggers looking for a nice warm place to hide out from the winter weather and to grab a meal while they’re at it. So before you have to make a call to the local exterminator, here are a few simple tips to reduce the chances of furry friends making a home in yours.
Firstly, seal off the premises. Make sure doors and screens are always closed tight, and look for breaks, rips or holes that lead outside Generally caulk is a good sealant, but weather stripping around windows and installing new door sweeps on doors will keep insects and small animals out and will do double duty by helping to insulate your home for winter.
For bigger areas such as the chimney, you can use a thick wire mesh to keep the critters out, just make sure the material is thick enough that it can’t be chewed through. Believe it or not, a mouse can get through a hole the size of a dime, so be diligent in your search for entry points.
Another tip is to make sure you don’t leave any food lying around. Mice and rats are pretty resilient to the cold, but they have to eat to survive and looking for a meal in your house is a lot easier than trying to find one outside in the cold. Many pet owners leave animal food out for long periods of time, which makes a delicious meal for a rodent. If a mouse can get into your house, the last thing you want to do is give them a reason to stay. Keep that food, pet or otherwise, sealed up tight.
If you have a garden that thrives through the autumn, that’s most likely where your rodents are coming from. They are smart, and they’ll be waiting to dart through your door at a moment’s notice. As a general rule of thumb, keep edible plants at least a few feet from any door, and the same goes for your garbage bins.
If your home is susceptible to rodents and you’ve tried to get rid of them with no luck, you might want to consider having the problem dealt with by a pest control professional. There are plenty of traps, sprays, and natural solutions on the market, but using the wrong deterrent might drive pests up into the walls where they can start chewing on wires and causing long-term, more expensive damage.
Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.