While Mickey and Minnie Mouse might have been two of your favorite Disney characters as a child, chances are that you are not keen on having real rodents in your house. And considering the dangers these little creatures can cause to humans, it is not difficult to see why.

We’ve come a long way!

But the question is, is trapping rats really the only option available for you? Or can you simply leave them and learn to coexist with them? Well, the answer is simple, the rodents need to go. This is because rats and mice carry allergens and parasites that can lead to many diseases in humans, some of which can also turn out to be fatal.

Unwelcomed as they might be, this doesn’t change the fact that rodents are quite common house guests in the US. Statistics show that more than 30 percent of the homeowners in the country have dealt with a rodent infestation at one point or another. This problem intensifies during the winter months when more and more rats and mice make their way to your homes to seek shelter from the cold outside. It is estimated that nearly 21 million houses in the country are subjected to rodent infestations every winter.

But simply turning a blind eye to the rodents in your house is not at all a good idea This is because these rodents can lead to a plethora of diseases and infections, that, in some cases, might even prove to be fatal.

Some rats are the cutest.
Some rats are the cutest.

Health Hazard of Rodents

Rats and mice carry a number of pathogens and parasites with them that can cause a number of diseases in humans. Most of these diseases can be potentially fatal. The risk of such diseases and casualties resulting from them increases manifold if there are also children and pets in your home. Some of the most common diseases carried by rodents include Hantavirus, Salmonellosis, Rat-Bite Fever, Listeria, and the Bubonic Plague. In fact, it is commonly accepted that the Great Plague of the 14th century which wiped out a huge portion of the European population was caused by rodents. This is why it is important to take appropriate measures to avoid coexisting with rats and mice in your home.

  1. Hantavirus

Hantavirus is one of the possibly fatal diseases that can be transmitted by rodents to humans. Exposure to a rodent’s urine, saliva or droppings can all lead to an infection. Some of the symptoms of Hantavirus include fatigue, muscle aches, fever, abdominal issues, dizziness, and chills.

  1. Bubonic Plague

The Bubonic Plague, which is also called the Black Death, is an extremely contagious and more often than not a deadly disease. A noteworthy breakout of the Bubonic Plague that reached epidemic proportions is the Black Plague of Europe in the Middle Ages. Symptoms of the bubonic plague include painful and swollen lymph nodes, fever, and headaches.

  1. Salmonellosis

Salmonellosis can be classified as a form of food poisoning that is spread by rodent droppings, especially if a person consumes any food item that has been contaminated by a rodent’s fecal matter. Symptoms of Salmonellosis include fever, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

  1. Rat Bite Fever

Rat bite fever is another potentially deadly infectious disease that is spread through infected rodents or by consuming contaminated food. Symptoms of Rat Bite Fever include vomiting, fever, body rash, muscle pain, and headaches. As per the CDC, these symptoms appear 3-10 days after a person has been exposed to the contamination.

  1. Allergies and Asthma

Both rats and mice can contribute greatly to allergies. The urine of a mouse can trigger various allergies in up to 35 percent of homes. Similarly, mouse droppings also contain allergens. In fact, almost as many people are allergic to mouse droppings as there are to dust and mold. Moreover, rodents and the allergens they carry are also a common cause of asthma in both adults and children.

  1. Other Problems

Apart from health hazards, rodents are also a menace for your home. With their sharp claws and teeth, they can eat literally anything, including the insulations, wooden structures, cardboards, wall boards and even electrical wiring. In fact, exposed wires due to rats are one of the major causes of house fires in the US.

How to Get Rid of the Rodents In your Home

In other words, when faced with a rat or mouse infestation in your house, it is prudent to get rid of them as soon as possible. Luckily there are a number of rodent trapping techniques available such as snap traps, electronic traps, glue traps, pesticides. You can also seek expert help from exterminators to help you free your house from rodents.

Common Rat and Mouse Trapping Techniques

Snap traps, glue traps, electronic traps, and live cage traps are those commonly used rodent traps that use food as bait for luring the rodents. Once the rodents are attracted to the traps, then depending upon the particular mechanism of each trap, the rodent is either captured live or killed instantaneously.

You can also use pesticides and other chemical based items for killing rodents in your home. Although, they might be a more effective option compared to bait traps, but they have a major drawback that you aren’t guaranteed the knowledge of the dead rodent’s whereabouts. And since dead rodents can emit a really foul odor, this means that you will have to deal with the problem of stench even after you have successfully killed the rodents. Moreover, these chemicals are strong enough to affect your health too. In fact, if you have pets or children in the house, then it is even more important to avoid such rodent trapping techniques.

The choice of the traps or rodent trapping techniques you use depends not only on the type of rodent you are trying to eliminate from your home but also the particular species of each.

However, without a doubt, the common snap trap is by far what we, as professionals rely on the most. But not all traps are the same. The Victor Snap Trap is the best quality for your money.

Rodent Repelling Techniques

If trapping rats are not the route you want to go, then you can also try to repel these rodents so that they leave your home alone. To do this, it is important to understand what features of a house make it appealing to a rodent, and then take the appropriate measures to counter those features.

Like all other animals, rodents too need a regular supply of food and they tend to stay in places where they easily get sustenance. And what makes matters worse is that rodents don’t need large amounts of food. Those morsels or crumbs of food that fell down the dinner table and weren’t paid much attention to are enough to attract rodents. Moreover, if the food supplies in your cupboards and pantries aren’t properly sealed then they too can lead to a rodent infestation. To repel rodents from your home, make sure that they can’t access any food sources.

Apart from this, rodents look for shelter and dark, enclosed spaces that they can hide in. Seal all nooks and crannies and clean out places like the attics and the cellars regularly to make sure that there are no rats lurking in the shadows.

There’s a good reason that rats and mice are often found lurking in sewers and other damp places. They thrive in such unhygienic conditions, and the presence of such moisture also resolves their need for water. To repel rodents from your home, fix all of the leaking taps and pipes, and make the required plumbing fixes in the house.

Get an Exterminator

If you have tried many different ways to trap or repel rats but haven’t had much luck, or if you want to entrust matters into the hands of a professional right from the start, then an exterminator is probably your best option for getting rid of rats and mice in your home. A good exterminator can help you identify the species of rodent infesting your home and then devise the most suitable strategy for handling the infestation. Moreover, they can also help you rodent-proof your house so that you don’t have to worry about rodent infestations in your house again.

Q & A

Q. How much does an exterminator normally cost?

A. Prices will vary depending on location and what the exterminator does. “Baiting” or poisoning the rats are less expensive but it can result in rats dying in the walls or attic and causing a horrible smell.

Trapping and “rat proofing” can be quite a bit more money with pricing in many areas between $800-$1500. The price difference is because baiting is normally done on one visit by popping ones head into the attic.

Trapping requires many visits to check traps and it is often necessary to get on the roof to do rat proofing.

Dusty Showers has been in the urban nuisance wildlife and pest control field since 1993. Taught by Garon Fyffe, a pioneer in humane nuisance wildlife management, Dusty has a passion for finding humane solutions to human & wildlife conflicts. Dusty was the only individual invited by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission in the lat 1990's to help write legislation for legal protection of Florida bats. With an instinct for solving wildlife, Dusty found pest control to be an easy "add-on interest". Dusty started his first business "Animal Instincts Wildlife & Pest Management" in the Tampa Bay, Florida area in 1995. Eventually selling Animal Instincts in 2002, Dusty went on to start Creepy Creatures Termite and Pest Control in 2009, which he still owns and operates today in Palm Harbor, Florida.