It’s winter, which means that – like many of us – rodents are looking for somewhere warm and cosy to spend their days. For homeowners, this means an increased likelihood of rodents trying to make their way inside your property to set up home, and an increased likelihood that you might be hearing noises in the roof (especially at night). Our Rentokil contact centre has seen an increase in customers contacting us regarding rodents at home.
So how do your make sure that your home stays rat-free this winter? Do any of those D-I-Y home remedies or natural rodent repellents such as mothballs actually work?
Let's take a quick look at some of the most common home remedies suggested for rodents:
Do they keep rodents away? To put it simply… no. Mothballs were considered by some to be an effective rodent control method because they contain naphthalene; a pungent smelling white, solid substance. When inhaled or consumed it can cause blood cells to lose their oxygen-carrying properties.
However, the amount of naphthalene found in mothballs is relatively small. It’s enough to deter moths and other insects, but it’s not enough to deter rodents. Rodents have been seen to walk over mothballs, paying no attention to them whatsoever. Even if rats and mice were bothered by the smell from mothballs near their nest entrance they would soon find another.
2. Peppermint oil
It makes your home smell nice and it gets rid of rats and mice. Surely this must be the perfect rodent repellent, right?
WRONG! Peppermint oil is often assumed to be a rodent mouse repellent because in high concentrations, peppermint can be quite strong, and both mice and rats have a very sensitive sense of smell. However this doesn’t seem to hold true, and neither rats nor mice are deterred by the smell.
Another reason why peppermint oil doesn’t work is simple physics. Most gases and fumes, including peppermint aroma, rise. Rats and mice are small and stay close to the ground, thus they are less likely to be affected by the rising aroma of peppermint.
3. Ultrasonic rodent repellent devices
At Rentokil, we get asked about ultrasonic rodent repellent devices a lot because there are a few of these devices available on the market. However, they'll only keep rodents away for a short period of time - they're not an efficient long-term solution.
One of the biggest issues when using an ultrasonic rodent repellent is the placement of the device. These devices must be plugged into an electricity socket to work. If there is no plug point close to the rodent activity then the device will be unsuccessful. Another factor to consider is that while ultrasonic repellents may work in the short term, rats and mice are extremely adaptable and quickly learn to avoid the area affected by the ultrasonic sound waves, or adapt to it as background noise.
If you really want an environmentally friendly and avoid the use of pesticides, then preventing rodents’ access to your home and to food, water, and nesting sites is the best method to get rid of them. They won't stay in an area that's not hospitable.
Signs that you need rodent control
The roof is a common place to find rats; however mice can also be found nesting in suspended ceilings, cavity walls, under floorboards and behind fridges, under stoves and in airing cupboards. Nests will often contain young mice.
Here are some of the signs that indicate a rodent problem:
• Droppings: The presence of small, dark droppings (particularly alongside walls or in enclosed areas such as cupboards or under sinks). Rat droppings are sausage shaped, approximately 1 -2 cm long and mouse droppings are thin, spindle shaped and approximately 5mm long.
• Smell: Rodents also have a distinctive, ammonia-like smell that is particularly strong in enclosed areas.
• Damage to the fabric of the building caused by gnawing is another clear warning sign, as is finding shredded materials such as newspaper, cardboard and fabrics which is being used as nesting material.
• Greasy marks: Finally, if you notice greasy smear marks along skirting boards or walls – caused by rodents as they repeatedly brush up against objects – it’s time to think about calling in the professionals before the rat and mouse problem becomes hard to control.
Prevent rats from entering your home
The best way to prevent problems with mice and rats in your home is to prevent/deny their access to your home in the first place. Proofing against rodents is an important step in preventing their access. Read all about what you need to know to prevent rodents in this blog post.
How to choose a reputable pest control provider
Choosing a professional, registered and reputable pest control partner is critical if you want to combat pests in a safe and environmentally responsible fashion. One only has to open the yellow pages to see that in addition to the big, household names; there are quite literally hundreds of small businesses offering their services in the pest control market.
Take a read of this post to see what you can expect when a pest control expert visits your premises, and what a professional services should look like. Then find out what one of our customers had to say about the service she received from Rentokil when she had a rodent problem at home.
Finally, subscribe to our blog for regular pest updates, tips and advice on staying pest free.