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Rats and Mice
Rats and Mice

Rodent Control in North San Diego County

Roof Rats are the most numerous rats in San Diego’s North County; we often find them in our fruit and nut trees, in sheds, attics, sub areas, garages, and under the hoods of our parked cars. They can cause extensive damage to our homes, crops, and vehicles and they leave disgusting odors and contamination in their wake. Roof rats are very agile climbers and can run up and down stucco walls, cross cable lines and vines, and are also quite comfortable in sewer and storm drain lines as well. If you see a pile of broken snail shells under your BBQ or next to a condenser fan (or anywhere else for that matter), your probably have a roof rat nest nearby. Or it could even be the larger Norway rat!

Norway Rats are twice the size of roof rats and are equally more aggressive. They can cause more damage and they seem to be appearing in more places and in greater numbers here in North County than ever before. Norway rats are usually bolder than roof rats; they are sometimes active during the day and they will walk right into an open garage or patio door, even in daylight hours. Quite often they dig burrows in the soil outdoors and they can tunnel into a substructure. Like the roof rat, they eat fruit, macadamia nuts, snails, insects, vegetables, pet food, bird seed, and almost anything else that they can find, including mice and other rats. I have no idea what food value they see in vinyl products like insulation on wires, plastic toys, brush handles, or furniture (among others), but we get disabled vehicle calls on a regular basis.

DO NOT USE POISON if any rodents have access to a structure! I’ll bet you can figure out why. They most definitely do NOT go outside to die!

Mice actually can cause more damage in a kitchen than rats do. They tend to taste everything they can get into and they are very good at getting into things. Mice are fast breeders that feed on almost anything and they can fit through a hole that is barely large enough to accommodate a pencil.

The Deer mouse is very similar to a house mouse in size and to a rat in its behavior. Its most distinctive feature is its white belly; field mice sometimes have a lighter colored belly, but not with the contrast of deer mice. This cute little rodent has been known to carry a virus that is very dangerous to humans, called the Hantavirus. There are at least twelve varieties of Hantavirus that are known to man but the center for disease control (CDC) has only listed one of them as deadly. It can produce a very rare disease called the Hantavirus Pulmonary Disorder, but the Deer mice must first come into contact with the virus in order to spread it. I am not aware of any confirmed Hantavirus infections that were generated here in North County, but it has been identified in Yosemite Park. We are careful in our inspections and treatments to avoid any virus problems associated with rats or mice. Pinpoint does not expect a Hantavirus outbreak here in North County, but if we find Deer mice inside a structure, we recommend a decontamination treatment just to be extra careful. A good website for information on rat and mouse control for do-it-yourselfers is from the San Diego County Vector control program at: www.sdvector.com

Or you can do your own inspection and control for Rats and Mice, here is how:  First, you need a very sophisticated monitoring system to determine where the rats and mice are hanging out, and to find out if this is an active infestation or just some old traces from time gone by.

Place several little piles of three or four sunflower seeds each (isn’t this sophisticated?) in the rooms or the areas that you suspect that you have rats or mice. That’s right! Sunflower seeds in the shell placed in the attic, sub area, kitchen, furnace room, shed, or any other place where the birds will not steal them outright. What happens next is, the rats or mice will shell the seeds and leave the shells where you can see them. Eventually you want the rats to be taking the seeds off of traps that are NOT set. This will prepare them for their eventual demise. Do not set the traps yet!

The second step to rat and mouse control is to determine how they got inside in the first place. Check for openings at the bottom of the exterior walls, especially just outside of the kitchen and bathrooms where the pipes go through the slab. Also inspect all exterior doors, including garage doors, for openings at the base of the door jams or under the doors. Check all the screen vents in the garage as well as the attic, and check the area around the air conditioner condenser box outside. (Be aware that even if you do not have air conditioning you will likely have a condenser tube opening in the wall that rats can use to reach the attic or the furnace room.) Overlapping rooflines are a common entry point for everything from bees to raccoons; check them thoroughly, but be careful if you climb on the roof. You can use Kwikmesh or pre-made screens for areas that need ventilation and you may need to replace dryer vent hoods and other types of covers.

Now you can seal all of the openings and set the traps! If the rats are properly desensitized to the traps with the (sophisticated) sunflower seeds, you should have all of them on traps in only one evening. Leave out some more of those sophisticated monitors when you are through to make certain that you have all the rodents, and then check them from time to time to make certain that the rats have not found a new way to get inside.

If you are certain that you have no openings in the structure the use of rat or mouse poison is one of your control options for outdoor areas. Please be very cautious about how you might use any kind of pesticide, especially rodenticide baits. Always read the entire label and follow those label instructions completely. Remember that rodenticides are attractive to non targeted species and can cause great harm if they are used or placed improperly. Here at Pinpoint, we use secured, locked bait stations that must be opened with a key for safety’s sake. Contact us if you would like us to do all of the above AND maintain the bait stations. Our rodent control work is affordable and it comes with a one year guarantee. We regret that we cannot respond to contacts from outside of our North County service area.