Limiting Rodent Exposure and Infestation

Limiting Rodent Exposure and Infestation


Rodents and other pests can cause a problem for your health.  They are destructive pests that can spread disease, contaminate food, bite people or pets, trigger asthma attacks or allergic reactions, and destroy property.  Colony building generally takes about 6-10 months under favorable conditions.  When their ecosystem has stabilized, reproduction will begin.  As a rodent population grows, people have a greater chance of being exposed to the diseases carried by them.  Rodent dander and urine can also contain allergens that can affect sensitive people.  More than 9,000 people are treated annually in emergency departments for rat or mouse bites.



Aside from seeing actual live or dead rodents, indications that rodents are present include rodent droppings, runways, rub marks, and tracks. Other signs include burrows, nests, gnawing marks, food scraps, tufts or clumps of hair, urine spots, rodent noises, insects that are associated with rodents, and odors from urine.  Individual categories of rodents such as rats and mice are different, and methods used to control each category will differ.


Precautions to Limit Household Exposure

Removing food sources, water, and items that provide shelter for rodents is the best way to prevent contact with rodents. Where necessary, control rodents by using an integrated pest management approach that includes environmental sanitation, proper food storage, rodent-proofing, trapping, and poisoning.

Inside the Home

  • Keep food and water covered and stored in rodent-proof containers. A rodent-proof container is made of thick plastic, glass, or metal and has a tight-fitting lid.
  • Keep pet food covered and stored in rodent-proof containers. Allow pets only enough food for each meal, then store or throw out any remaining food. Do not leave excess pet food or water out overnight.
  • Dispose of garbage on a frequent and regular basis. If storing trash and food waste inside the home, do so in rodent-proof containers.
  • Wash dishes, pans, and cooking utensils immediately after use.
  • Remove leftover food and clean up any spilled food from cooking and eating areas.
  • Do not store empty cans or other opened containers with food residues inside the home.
  • When possible, use spring-loaded traps in the home and outside buildings. Use a small amount of chunky peanut butter or other available food as bait. (Remember – you are more likely to be successful trapping rodents if your home is free of other easily accessible food items.) Place traps in a “T” shape against baseboards or wall surfaces where rodent rub marks, droppings, or rodents have been seen. Keep children and pets away from areas where traps are placed.
  • Glue traps and live traps are not recommended. Glue traps mainly catch juvenile rodents, not breeding adults. Rodents caught in live traps and released will likely reenter the home.

Outside the Home

  • Dispose of debris and trash as soon as possible. Store woodpiles and stacks of lumber or other materials at least 12 inches above the ground and as far away from the home as possible.
  • Store garbage in rodent-proof containers with tight fitting lids.
  • Store grains and animal feed in rodent-proof containers.
  • Remove any food sources, including animal carcasses, that might attract rodents.
  • Haul away trash, abandoned vehicles, discarded tires, and other items that might serve as rodent nesting sites.
  • Keep grass short and cut or remove brush and dense shrubbery that may provide rodents cover and protection.
  • Trim tree limbs or shrubs that overhang or touch buildings.
  • Place spring-loaded traps in outbuildings and in other areas where signs of rodents are found. Do not allow children or pets to play near spring traps.


Rodent-Proofing Your Home

Rats can enter the home through a hole the size of a quarter. Mice can enter through a hole the size of a dime. Seal gaps and holes inside and outside the home that are greater than a ¼-inch diameter with any of the following materials:

  • Cement or cement mortar,
  • 19-gauge or greater metal mesh, wire screening, or hardware cloth (1/4-inch or less spacing is preferred),
  • steel wool,
  • heavy-duty caulk or elastomeric sealant, or
  • expanding foam.


We hope this information helps you.  If you ever need help with removing rodent carcasses, droppings or urine please do not hesitate to contact us for a free estimate.  We are available 24/7 at (865) 399-2979.



Reference: CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Rodent Control after a disaster-