The mice and rat problem
Mice and rats are a nuisance and can spread several disease to humans. They can be found outdoors or in homes and other buildings. They enter your home in search of food and shelter.
Sign of mice and rats
Indications of mice and rats include shiny, dark colored droppings, chew marks on food containers, nests, tracks and trails. Also look for holes where mice and rats may have chewed their way into your home.
Tips to keep mice and rats away
- Keep trash in metal or heavy plastic cans with tight fitting lids.
- Keep your yard picked up. Keep wood piles at least 18 inches off the ground.
- Pick up after pets regularly. If you feed your pet outside, pick up any spilled food and don’t leave food out overnight.
- Keep your home clean. In addition to regular cleaning be sure to clean up spilled food from hard to reach areas like remote corners and under furniture.
- Check cupboards regularly for spilled food and rodent droppings. You may need to store things like cereal and pet food in plastic or metal containers.
- Seal up any cracks or holes. Mice and rats can enter through any opening larger than the size of a dime (1/2 inch). Mice and rats can also climb brick or other rough exterior walls to get into upper stories and attics.
If you have taken all of these preventive measures and still have rodents in your home, traps or poisons may be used. Traps (with peanut butter for bait) are a good way to get rid of rodents and avoid accidental poisoning of pets or children. Poisons can be dangerous to humans and other animals. You MUST strictly follow the instructions on the label. Use caution when disposing of the dead rodents or cleaning up after them. They may carry diseases. If you have severe infestations, contact a pest control service.
Diseases spread by mice and rats
It is important to get rid of mice and rats quickly because they can spread serious disease to people.
Some of the diseases they carry or cause include:
- Rickettsial pox a disease similar to chicken pox and is spread to people by mites that are usually found on mice.
- Rat bite fever is spread to people when they are bitten by an infected mouse, rat or rodent.
- Food poisoning (namely salmonellosis) is spread to people when food, food preparation surfaces or dishes are contaminated by saliva, urine or feces from a mouse.
- Mice and rats can spread parasites to people such as trichinosis and tapeworms.
- Hantavirus is a respiratory disease that is carried by small rodents, especially deer mice. It is spread to people when they breathe in dust that contains the rodents infected saliva, urine or feces. Although uncommon, people can also get hantavirus if they are bitten by an infected mouse.
- Plague is spread to people when they come in contact with fleas from infected rodents or when people are bitten by infected rodents. However, today plague is usually spread to people by rodents like prairie dogs and squirrels.