Pest infestations are a common bane for homeowners, renters, and business owners across the country. In fact, according to recent statistics, nearly 20% of households surveyed in just one large eastern city (Philadelphia) reported being aware of mice activity in their homes. Similar surveys taken in other large cities (Seattle and Austin) showed something even more alarming—the presence of rats in approximately 1 in every 50 homes. Since the numbers of these rodents grow exponentially due to their rapid reproduction rate and early sexual maturity, they can quickly spread from one home to another. If you would like to prevent your family's home from becoming the next breeding ground for rodents, the following housekeeping and maintenance tips will help you keep these gnawing, disease-carrying pests from moving in.  

Exterior maintenance tips to discourage rodent activity

Due to their size, shape, and gnawing capabilities, rodents are easily able to make their way into very small openings in the outer shell of the home. To shut down this access, carefully examine the entire outer shell of your home, garage, and any other structures near your home for: 

  • openings under doors
  • missing or damaged vent covers and window screens
  • openings around window air-conditioning units
  • openings where plumbing, electrical, phone, or Internet wiring enters the home
  • missing or damaged bricks, blocks, or masonry 
  • missing, loose, or damaged siding 
  • damaged or missing soffit or fascia
  • openings around chimneys, flues, or plumbing stacks

If any of these problems are found, they will need to be repaired promptly to discourage and prevent rodents from using them as access points to get into your home, either now or in the future.

In addition, look for any areas around your home or other structures where tall grass, vegetation, mulch, or other types of ground cover may be providing concealment for rodent activity around your home's foundation or exterior walls. 

Housekeeping tips to discourage rodent infestations

Rodents have voracious appetites and are happy to settle into homes that provide a constant source of food, water, and available materials for nesting. To prevent rodents such as rats and mice from making your home into their new family colony, use the following tips. 

  • Keep counters, floors, and other surfaces clear of food crumbs. 
  • Limit all food consumption and storage to certain areas of the home, such as the kitchen, dining room, and pantry.
  • Store food products such as grains, cereals, crackers, and other foods that attract rodents in glass, metal, or hard plastic containers.
  • Feed pets on a schedule and then remove and clean their dishes quickly after they are finished eating instead of leaving them out 24/7.
  • Store pet foods in hard plastic buckets, bins,or metal containers with tight-fitting lids.
  • Leave pet water dishes down only during waking hours, putting them away at night when rodents are most likely to be active in your home.
  • Repair any dripping faucets that could become a water source for thirsty rodents.
  • Refrain from setting out bowls of fruit, nuts, or other foods that might attract rodents.
  • Keep trash cans tightly covered when not in use.

In addition, families who want to discourage rodent activity should eliminate clutter in their homes, especially anything made of fabric, paper, or other soft materials that rodents like to use for nesting activities. Installing metal shelving in storage areas, garages, pantries, and basements is also a good way to foil rodents from chewing on or nesting in your stored items because they find it difficult to climb smooth metal surfaces.  

If, even after your best efforts to keep your home free of mice or rats, you find droppings or other evidence confirming that your home is infested with rodents, consider consulting a reputable pest-control professional in your area. They will be able to help you safely locate and remove any existing rodents in your home as well as help you devise a plan to keep the rodents away for good. 

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