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Use exclusion and sanitation tactics to get rid of rodents in a safe and cost-effective way.


The most effective long-term solution is to keep rodents out in the first place. Measures such as sealing entry points prevent rodents from entering buildings and help you avoid a full-scale invasion.

Follow the tips in the sections below and you will be one step closer to keeping your home permanently free of rats and mice.

Rats and mice are not only a nuisance but can also cause property damage and transmit diseases. You’ll know they’ve arrived if you see rodent droppings near a food source or shredded fabric or paper. If you identify rodents, there are several steps to take to ensure permanent removal of these pests.

Removing rodents with traps or poisons will not keep rodents out of your home in the future. To permanently keep rats and mice out of your home or business, you will need to prevent access by sealing all possible entry points. It is equally important to eliminate rodent attractions such as food and water by keeping food in tightly sealed containers and repairing leaky pipes.

Common Sources of Food and Water

  • Food in unsealed containers such as bags of chips, rice, cereal, crackers, flour, and other non-perishables.

  • Pet food and water left out overnight or in a bag rather than in a secure container.

  • Fruits or vegetables in open bowls left outside of refrigerator.

  • Leaky pipes or faucets throughout the house.

  • Open trash and compost containers.

Common Rodent Access Points

  • Holes near cabinets, closets or doors leading to outside or crawl spaces.

  • Holes around sink or appliance pipes.

  • Cracked foundations in the basement or unscreened ventilation holes in the attic, especially in older structures.

  • Holes around windows or doors.

  • Missing screens in vents or crawl spaces under buildings.


Once you have blocked the access points and removed sources of food and water, you’ll need to eliminate the remaining rodents. The following sections offer an overview of different treatment options and serve as useful guidance for keeping your home or business permanently free of rats and mice.

Guidelines to Maintaining a Rodent-Free Home

Three Guiding Principles     Prevent! - Identify! - Treat!

Seal entry points to prevent rodents from entering your home or business. Be sure to use 1/4" x 1/4" metal mesh to seal off existing entry points.. Look for signs of rats and mice such as rodent droppings round food, kitchen corners, inside cabinets or under sinks. Remove rodents by using snap or electronic traps. Be cautious with live traps as rodents might urinate which increases the risk of spreading disease. In addition, some states prohibit releasing rodents into the wild.

Remove rodent attractions such as food or shelter by ensuring that food is securely stored and that surroundings are clean.Also, look for nesting material such as shredded paper or fabric. Install barn owl nesting boxes to naturally control rodents.


Outdoor Recommendations: 

  • Don’t plant ivy — it provides shelter and a food source for rodents: snails and slugs. Ivy on walls can form “rat ladders” to windows, attics and other interior spaces.

  • Keep compost piles as far away from structures as possible and grass cut to no more than two inches tall.

  • Maintain at least a 2 foot space between bushes, shrubs, fences, and buildings. Also, remove tree limbs within 3 feet of a structure or roof.

  • Avoid having a bird feeder since it provides a source of food for rodents.

  • Keep outdoor grills and cooking areas clean.

  • Keep firewood off the ground and as far away from structures as possible to mitigate shelter opportunities.

  • Use city-issue plastic trash bins. If cracked or missing a lid, contact the Department of Sanitation for a replacement.



Indoor Recommendations:

  • Encase all food items such as breakfast cereals, chips, and crackers in containers.

  • Opt for garbage bins and compost containers with a top that seals tightly.

  • Rinse food and beverage containers before discarding or recycling.

  • Clean your garbage and recycling bins frequently.

  • Do not leave pet food or water out overnight.

  • Maintain stove tops clean and free of food scraps.

  • De-clutter your home of papers, fabric, and any similar materials that attract rodents for nesting.

  • Repair leaky pipes.

  • Seal entry points around cabinets, interior walls, attic, and crawl spaces with steel wool, caulk, or 1/4″ x 1/4″ metal mesh.

  • Maintain attic, crawl spaces, and cabinets near sinks clean and free of moisture.

Promote Natural Predators

Natural predators such as snakes, hawks, and owls can help to control rodent populations by feeding on rats and mice. Barn owls are efficient hunters and a family of barn owls can eat as many as 3000 mice per year. To encourage barn owls to nest and stay in your area, consider installing a nesting box. Strategic placement of nesting boxes combined with the use of traps and other preventative measures will go a long way to managing your rodent problems.

For more information on installing and maintaining nesting boxes, visit the Hungry Owl Project or the Barn Owl Box Company. Please note that the Hungry Owl Project strongly urges that NO rodent poisons be used indoors or outdoors while encouraging owls to your property. Using rodent poisons could kill an owl if it feeds on a poisoned rodent.


The best secondary way to control rodents is by using traps. *

• The best trap is the cheap, old-fashioned, wood-based “snap trap.” Using a snap trap is more humane than rodenticides: It kills instantly in most cases by breaking the rodent’s neck. Don’t put the trap right outside a suspected rodent hole. Instead, look for rub marks along walls as a sign of rodent pathways. Place the trap 90 degrees to the wall. Don’t set or bait the trap initially — let the rodents become used to its presence. After a day or two, bait the trap with peanut butter (chunky works best) and set. Setting the trap in the evening mitigates the chance of trapping “non-target” animals. Wear disposable gloves when emptying the traps so as not to come into contact with rodent urine, as it is a health hazard.

• A new type of trap that seems to work well is the electronic trap. Here, a rodent enters a bait box and is effectively shocked into immediate cardiac arrest with high voltage drawn from ordinary dry-cell batteries. Baiting, removal of the dead rat and monitoring are simple. The cost is not low, however.
Most units run from $30 to $50. Check buyer reviews online.

• Glue traps are not effective for rats and other larger rodents that can pull free of the glue. Glue traps are also less humane, because they allow for longer suffering from starvation or dehydration by the rodent and can result in rodents pulling free from glue traps with fur or skin removed. Glue traps are not recommended.

• Live traps (cages) pose substantial risk of exposure to the myriad health hazards involved in handling a live rodent and are not recommended.


If these hands-on pest-control methods do not appeal to you, by all means call a professional. Just be sure to stipulate that the method of eradication used does not involve anti-coagulant rodenticides and is otherwise safe for pets, children, wildlife and the environment. Dispose of leftover poisons responsibly. If you have been using anti-coagulant rodenticides and have decided to stop, bring any leftover products to your local toxic waste center, where they will be disposed of responsibly.

These useful tips aim to provide residents with confidence that there are alternatives available for dealing with rodents that do not involve rodenticides or any other toxic chemicals. Taking away their food, water and shelter lets rodents know that they are not welcome in your home. 


* Pest-control methods suggested by Richard Stanley, director of the Los Angeles-based nonprofit Friends of Griffith Park. © The Griffith Reporter/Winter 2012-2013.

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