How to prevent a rodent infestation

Written by jane smith
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How to prevent a rodent infestation
Rats may overrun your home. (MikeLane45/iStock/Getty Images)

You open a cupboard and see chewed up bits of paper and little black things the size of large seeds. You detect a sweet, slightly sickening scent. You may even see bits of torn out fur, paper and shredded fabric with a hollow in the centre. Your cat stares for hours at a hole in the skirting boards. Your dog barks and scratches at the wall. You hear scrabbling and squeaking. By the time these signs appear, you already have a rodent problem, but it can be fixed quickly and easily with a little effort.

Things you need

  • Live traps
  • Silicone caulk
  • Caps for sewer drain lines, old pipes and drain lines
  • Gloves and respirator
  • Dustbin and dustbin liners

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Look for rodent droppings, torn paper or fluff in corners of drawers or beneath stored mattresses or boxes. Rodent droppings look like tiny raisins or extra large apple seeds. They can be brown or black and often have a sweet sickening scent from being mixed with rodent urine. Rodent droppings are unsightly, smelly and cause disease.

  2. 2

    Clean the house, attic, basement, garage, sheds and any rubbish piles. Be sure to wear rubber gloves and use a respirator in the attic or garage. Remove any stored mattresses, cloth furniture, cardboard boxes, wallpaper sample rolls, pet foods stored in paper or plastic bags and any other item that can be chewed or used as nesting material or food. Bag everything and place bags in a metal or plastic dustbin with a tight fitting lid.

  3. 3

    Seal up any holes with caulk, wood putty or screening. Rats can get inside through a hole the size of a fifty pence piece, and mice can use a hole the size of a five pence piece. Cap any open sewer lines, gas lines, or water lines coming into the house. Clean all gutters and downspouts regularly to prevent mice and rats from nesting in them. Keeps doors closed and be sure that screens on windows are intact. Fix them if needed, or replace them.

  4. 4

    Use live humane traps, glue traps or snap traps to get all mice and rats in the home. Be sure to place traps out of reach of pets and small children. Release trapped rats and mice only after verifying with your local wildlife officer that they are healthy and making sure to release only in an area away from residences or businesses.

  5. 5

    Join a cleaning and organisation group online to help motivate you to keep everything tidy. Spend 15 minutes a day cleaning and organising so that rodents and other pests cannot get anything to eat, drink, or nest. Go through all cupboards and throw away any torn or chewed packages. Store all dry goods that are not in cans, including pet foods, in plastic or metal containers with tight fitting lids. Keep the pantry clean and organised. Discard all newspaper, paper bags, cardboard, foam padding, carpeting or any other item that can be used as nesting material immediately.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep all rubbish in metal or plastic containers with tight fitting lids and discard immediately.
  • Do not store newspapers, mattresses, cardboard or paper bags.
  • Check your house at the beginning and end of each season for holes or uncapped pipes that rodents might use to enter your house.
  • Keep screens in good repair.
  • Keep doors closed to prevent entry of vermin.
  • Use rubber gloves and a respirator when handling items contaminated with rodent waste or urine.
  • If you are bitten, wash the bite immediately with soap and water and seek medical attention.

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