Building & Renovation

How to Protect Your Home Against Winter’s Number One Pest – Rodents

It’s that time of year again. With the temperatures dropping the focus for many homeowners shifts toward protecting their home from those pests that are searching for a warm and welcoming place to shelter for the winter. Although the typical summer insect pests such as mosquitoes and roaches are no longer a problem for many areas of the country there is no doubt that warm blooded pests such as rats and mice become a much bigger concern as fall and winter set in. These tiny rodents can present numerous problems and very specific challenges when it comes to eliminating them and restoring your home to a pleasant pest-free state.  In order to deal with the problem, you should first familiarize yourself with the different types of these pests and the rodent control solutions that you can employ to make your home a less attractive shelter for them in the first place. The two main types that a person might encounter are rats and mice, each of which have their own peculiar habits and are each susceptible to differing methods of pest control.

The first variety of rodent that we will examine is the rat. They are the larger of the two pest species and are often found in areas where there is abundant food left unguarded. They are known to scavenge virtually any source of food, and will make a home in any human dwelling provided there is a source of nutrition nearby. Because of their hearty nature and quick reproduction, they present a serious issue when it comes to infestations. Not only will they disrupt the daily lives of those whose home becomes infested, but they are also known to spread numerous diseases and present a serious health risk to anyone who is dealing with their presence.

The most commonly found species of rat is the black rat, which can be found in every state in the country. They are among the most adaptable of all species, and will quickly make themselves at home in virtually any setting. They can be found both in urban and rural areas, and are often located near areas where food is stored such as warehouses, restaurants and grain silos. Their food preferences are incredibly varied, and run the gamut from meats to things as varied as nuts and berries. Thus it is important when dealing with a rat problem to make sure that you have eliminated any obvious source of food such as open containers or trash that has been left out in the open. This will help to ensure the effectiveness of any subsequent control methods. Interestingly, any group of rats is known as a pack, a swarm, or a mischief. Despite the fact that in most cultures they are reviled and every attempt is made to get rid of them, in some areas of the world the rat is actually worshipped as an incarnation of the Hindu goddess Karni Mata, and seeing or coming into contact with a rare white rat is seen as a strong omen of good luck and fortune.

The key to complete control of these pests rests in a multifaceted approach. Not only is sanitation the foundation of any pest control program, but there are also many steps you can take to prevent an infestation from occurring in the first place. The first step that is usually completed during construction of a home but can also be done after the fact is known as rodent-proofing. This includes a variety of measures that are aimed at preventing the pests from being able to gain access to your home in the first place. Doing things such as sealing up cracks in the foundation, making sure doors and windows are tightly sealed and that there are no areas where the pests can gain entry. Although most of the cracks will likely be found along the base of the house, rats are often proficient climbers, so even those areas above ground level should be repaired to make sure that the entire house is protected. Sealing of large cracks should be accomplished through the use of a course or abrasive substance such as steel wool, as rats are known to easily chew through many other building materials such as sheeting, plastic and wood. They have even been known to chew through such substances as concrete and metal, although this is rare.

Once the house is thoroughly rodent-proofed and attractants such as food and trash have been stored or disposed of, any remaining pests can be controlled through the application of any of several different methods of rodent control.

When it comes to the elimination of rats you have several choices, the correct one will depend on many factors including your location, the extent of the infestation and the specific variety of rat that is causing the issue.

The first and by far the most common method of getting rid of rats is through the use of rat traps. There are numerous varieties of traps that all accomplish the same task. Traps are a better option if there are only a few individual rats on the premises as they avoid the complications that can arise from the improper use of pesticides. The most commonly used form of trap consists of a time-tested design that is merely a small wooden board with a spring loaded attachment and metal bar. When the trap is triggered by the removal of the bait, the bar will spring forward, instantly and painlessly killing the rat. One major advantage of traps is that they do not require any knowledge or elaborate preparation in order to effectively control a rodent population. A slight drawback is the fact that they can only kill one rat at a time, and must be checked and emptied regularly. Because of this they are primarily used against smaller infestations.

When faced with a much larger or more widespread infestation of rats, one must consider using pesticides, or more specifically rodenticides which are geared toward the elimination of rats and mice. These are usually mixed with some type of substance that will make the poison irresistible to the rodents in question.

In searching for an effective rodenticide you have a couple of choices. The first type of product is classified as acute, meaning that it is fast acting and will kill the rats or mice within hours of them coming into contact with it. These products are usually far more powerful than the other category of product known as anticoagulants which are classified as chronic based on their longer duration of action. These products rely on a rodent’s inability to process many common substances such as vitamin D. When ingested, these products will interfere with the process of clotting in the animal’s blood, leading to bleeding and death. It generally takes several days for the effects to take hold, but this is an effective method of dealing with infestations, particularly those that are overly large or spread over a wide area. Another significant advantage to using a chronic product versus an acute one is the fact that they are non-toxic to humans and pets, therefore you needn’t exercise the same level of care that you do if using a powerful acute rodenticide. In addition to using traps and poisons, simple measures such as having a pet cat can also be a boon to any rodent control process as they have long been known as effective hunters of these pests.

If you would like to learn more about rodent control, please visit Do My Own Pest Control, at

The following two tabs change content below.
Canadian Home Trends magazine gives you a personal tour of the most stunning homes and condos across Canada. You'll be inspired by a selection of accessible home décor products, trend reports, simple yet stylish DIY projects, and much more. In each issue, you are given the tools to recreate designer spaces you've always dreamt of having at home, in-depth renovation and design advice, colour palette and furniture pairings, and Canada's best places to shop.