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Rodent control 101: What homeowners need to know

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    As a homeowner, you may have to deal with rodents trying to make their way into your home, especially if you’re living in a suburban or rural area — though urban dwellers are not exempt. Besides being a general nuisance, rodents can be actively dangerous to your health and home. They may carry disease and are known to chew on loose wires if given the chance.

    How to keep rodents out of your house

    A great place to start is by getting ahead of the problem. Taking preventative measures is one of the best ways to keep rodents outside of your house. Consider some of the following strategies:

    Closing gaps inside and outside of your home

    Start by inspecting the outside of your home. Rodents often sneak through small cracks and holes you didn’t even know were there. It’s also possible that what used to be a small crack or hole has already grown as a result of rodents gnawing their way through.

    The next step, after identifying potential entry points, is to patch them up. Depending on the nature of the structure and the size of the hole, you may need various tools. Drywall, spackle, steel wool and caulk are all items worth having handy. Consider calling a trusted handyman if the job appears dangerous or you aren’t confident fixing the breach yourself.

    Once you’ve covered the more obvious places, you may want to look a little deeper. Checking behind shrubbery blocking areas of your home, areas where pipes enter your house, your roof, cellar windows — pretty much any possible crevice of your home — could reveal other points of entry in need of patching. A professional inspector or rodent control technician can likely help you conduct this process safely and efficiently.

    Keeping food and water properly stored

    Animals make their way into your home to find shelter, water and, most importantly, food. The latter isn't confined strictly to your kitchen either – bird feeders are a lovely addition to your yard, but if they’re kept too close to the home they may be perceived as an invitation to enter. With that, it’s typically best practice to keep bird feeders, and any other external sources of food or water, as far away from the outside of your home as possible.

    Maintaining control over outdoor nesting sites and food sources

    In addition to keeping bird feeders a healthy distance from your house, you may want to consider that animals often like to set up shop around grills, vehicles and garbage bins.

    • Keeping your grill clean and closed can help you potentially avoid creatures camping out around there.
    • If you have a garage, it’s helpful to make sure it’s secure. Also, consider keeping your car stowed away overnight.
    • Making sure your garbage bins are closed tight and composting areas aren’t too close to your home can help keep unwanted rodents away.
    • Landscaping your yard is another way to control outdoor nesting sites. If you have a yard, it’s natural to find an assortment of brush strewn about, which rodents like to use to form nesting sites. This may create problems if your yard has too much brush buildup.

    Do note, these suggestions might also be helpful if you’re part of a condo association and are responsible for the upkeep of your yard.

    As for the inside of your home, keeping your food and water properly stored makes sense, especially if your home is already prone to rodent or pest infestations. This means keeping everything securely stored in the pantry, refraining from leaving dirty dishes around the house and keeping things in secure, preferably high-up places. If you have pets, you might want to consider removing their food and water overnight too.

    What to do if you have a rodent problem

    If you discover a rodent problem in your house, circle back to the recommended preventative measures outlined above. You’ll want to understand how the rodents have entered your home and secure any remaining entryways. At this point, you may need a professional exterminator to come and take care of the problem. This may happen in one visit but often requires setting multiple traps and making additional inspections.

    How much does rodent control cost?

    Rodent control costs generally depend on a few factors, including:

    • The size of your home
    • The type of rodent
    • The location of the infestation
    • How the infestation is treated
    • The number of visits the exterminator requires

    Typically, an initial visit from an exterminator will be around a couple of hundred dollars. However, with each additional visit this number can rise — especially if you’re dealing with a large-scale infestation. Consider checking out a few places and getting quotes from several contractors before having an exterminator come to your home, so you don’t potentially rack up a large bill you weren’t prepared for.

    In summary

    Rodent control is one of the many adventures of homeownership. Keeping your home (and your yard) clean, and potential entry points sealed, is the best way to prevent a rodent from invading your home in the first place. If you do experience an infestation, consider shopping around for an exterminator whose rates and reviews you trust.

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