Some minor pest control problems can be treated yourself and treatment, such as insecticides and rodenticides can be bought from most hardware stores, garden centres and DIY stores. If you do decide to treat the infestation yourself, please follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and ensure animals, pets or children cannot get access to the treatment and that you do not contaminate food or damage your furnishings.
Pest proofing your home
The best way to deal with pests is to ensure they cannot get into your property, which is possible in almost all cases. Even if you do not have a current pest problem, measures should be taken to ensure that pests cannot enter.
All gaps should be sealed using a hard, gnaw resistant material. Cement, mortar, hard filler, brush strips and fine gauge wire mesh are the best examples of materials that should be used to seal gaps. Spray foam is often used to fill gaps because it is quick and easy to apply in an emergency, however foam should not be used as a long term solution as mice and rats can easily gnaw through it.
The most common ways that rodents can enter a home are:
- Gaps under external doors - the most common way that mice and rats enter is to squeeze under gaps under doors. Fitting a brush strip on the bottom of the door will seal the gap effectively.
- Gaps around pipes and cables - make sure there are no gaps around pipes or cables when they pass through external walls. Make sure work is checked after contractors finish any job involving pipes or wires going through external walls.
- Gaps around air bricks (or damage) - check they are intact, but don't block them.
- Gaps hidden by suspended ceilings - always check any suspended ceilings as there are usually cables and pipes running through walls that cannot be seen.
- Doors and windows left open - not usually a problem during the day, as activity will scare the mice and rats away. Pest screens can be fitted to doors and windows that are left open regularly.
- Uncovered drains and dry toilets - keep all drains covered and keep a water seal on toilets. If a toilet is redundant, consider having it removed and seal the pipe.
- Broken drains - the most common way that rats escape the sewer is through broken drains. If you are experiencing a rat problem then a broken drain is the most likely source of the rats, and you should inspect and repair as necessary. In extreme cases, a survey may be required.
- Drainpipes - fitting cone guards or balloon guards can stop rats climbing up - these are available from hardware or DIY stores.
Improved hygiene will discourage mice and rats by restricting their food:
- Store food carefully so mice and rats don’t have access.
- Sweep up spills as soon as they happen.
- Remove rubbish.
- Clean under work units and other areas where food debris builds up.
- Keep the garden free of food debris.
- Don’t compost meat, fish, bones or bread, as these attract vermin.
- Avoid over feeding wild birds or a build-up of food residues.
Controlling mice and rats yourself
The first step to controlling mice and rats is to find out where they are living and feeding, and their routes between these areas. Look for:
- Holes and burrows.
- Damage and gnawing.
- A musky smell.
Try blocking any holes you find with newspaper and come back 24 hours later to see which holes have been re-opened. You can then permanently seal all access holes and routes.