After the Halloween ˜heat wave’ this year (which led to a frenetic search for the best tips on how to BBQ pumpkins in our household) the winter evening chill and cold, wet and windy conditions – more associated with Autumn/Winter have certainly arrived. Ever year along with our home ˜spring clean’ in April (ish) we always have a ˜winter proofing’ in November (or earlier in October if the weather has already made a turn for the worst).
It’s not just my family that wants to huddle indoors with tea and crumpets when the weather outside is dismal, rodents will be on the lookout for somewhere warm and sheltered to nest, with easy access to food. So to try and avoid the unpleasant and distressing sight of rats darting out from under the shed or signs of mice scurrying around the kitchen cupboards ˜winter proofing’ your home against rodents is always a good idea.
It just takes a little time, effort and vigilance to help deter rats and mice from setting up their home in yours. Here are a few tips to help you ‘winter proof’ your home against rodents:
1) Remove sources of water “ if you have a dripping outside tap, or plant pots, watering cans etc¦ with excess water in them rats will make use them as a source of water. Rats need to drink up to 60 ml of water every day, so will search for a reliable supply they can constantly return to use.
2) Check for gaps, holes & loose fitting doors “ not just in your home, but sheds, garages and outbuildings too. Rats will enlarge gaps by gnawing so they can gain entry, whilst young mice can squeeze through a gap the size of a pencil. You can fit bristle (or brush strips) to the bottom of doors and use coarse grade stainless steel wire wool and caulking (pliable sealant) to fill small gaps, such as those around pipework or cabling. Air bricks and vents can be protected using fine galvanised wire mesh, especially if they are damaged.
3) Keep rubbish in tightly sealed bins “ rodents have a keen sense of smell and food waste in plastic bin bags will soon be found, offering them a feast. If possible double bag food waste to reduce the risk of spillages and keep in sturdy bins with tightly fitted lids to make it harder for them to access.
4) Reduce vegetation on the outside of buildings “ offering rodents fewer places to hide and making it more difficult for them to use the plants to climb the walls in search of entry points around windows, under the eaves or through damaged roof tiles. Mice are adept to climbing rough vertical surfaces and thin cables or wires. Overhanging tree branches also offer easy access for rodents to roof spaces.
5) Vigilance with Bird feeders and pets food “ as they can be an easy source of sustenance to rats and mice, especially if food is accidentally dropped. Clean up any spillages from bird feeders before dusk and always clear away pets food bowls as soon as they have finished a meal.
If you do come across signs of rodents such as droppings, tracks, burrows, runs (flattened areas of vegetation that they continually run across), scratching noises in roofs or walls or gnawed wood, plastic or wires then it’s time to call a professional pest controller to complete a full survey.