How to Keep Your Home Free of Rodents

Rodents are everywhere, and they'd like a free ride. Any access you give them to food, water, heat and shelter will be discovered. The key to rodent-proofing your home is to prevent them from entering.


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    Clean the crawl space. If you've got rodents, you'll see the insulation hanging down (they like to nest in it) and droppings on the vapor barrier. If it is bad, get rid of both. Once the area is clean, you can see what needs to be done. Rodents can carry some nasty diseases (Hantavirus for one, but it is rare) so you may want to wear high-quality respiratory protection.
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    Look around the inside and outside of your crawl space. Thoroughly examine for any opening 1/4" or larger. Close off any crawl space doors with an actual door instead of a casual closure such as a piece of wood pulled over an opening. You can stuff small openings with steel wool. Medium openings can be bridged with 1/4" hardware cloth (mesh) stapled over the opening. Make sure to check where plumbing, electric and heating enter and exit your house.
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    Check the outside of the house very thoroughly. Fill or bridge gaps where the house meets the ground to prevent entry. You should safely get up on the roof prepared to fill holes where vents exit the roof and where two roof lines intersect. Bring along hardware cloth and fillers as used in the crawl space. This is important because arboreal rats have no problem jumping on to the house, moving in, and finding their way to your generous supplies of food, water, heat, and shelter.
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    Check the attic to see if you have any activity up there. Put some traps up, check for openings to fill, and remember to reset your traps frequently until you have no activity.
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    Trim back any trees with branches near the roof to slow down roof jumping.
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    If you only had a minor infestation, set a few traps. This should do it. Put down plenty, first, baited, but without setting them. This is called prebaiting, and they get the idea that the bait on the little wooden platform is safe. Peanut butter makes a good bait. After prebaiting, set the traps. Make sure to check them.
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    If you have a bad infestation and they are in the walls, leave a few exit points so they can get out and don't die inside the house. After they're all gone, seal up the holes.
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    Clean the garage, and the back bedroom. Rats think your clutter is a lovely, undisturbed place to live. Garage doors are hard to exclude because of small openings around the outside of the door, and the fact that you need to open the door. Call the goodwill, St. Vincent's or 1800 Got Junk to clear out the stuff.
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    When you're done and you think you have fixed your rodent problem, replace the failed insulation and vapor barrier in the crawl space. Watch for freezing pipes if you pull insulation in the wintertime.
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    Look for problems with your garage door. A garage door weather seal is used to seal the gap between the perimeter of a garage door and the door frame. The material used is made of a flexible rubber,which is vulnerable to chewing by mice and other rodents. Rodents chew through the lower corners to gain access to their new home. A flexible metal strip can be secured to the garage door weather seal where the seal meets the ground. The garage/ home will then be better protected against pesky rodents sneaking inside.


  • Check for holes after you have any repairs made to the envelope of your house, and check it in spring and fall when rodents are moving outside and back inside.
  • Keep all bird food and pet food in sealed, metal containers. If you have a bad infestation, you might want to stop keeping bird food, bird feeders and pet dishes around (just feed the dog leftovers!). Keep your own food in sealed containers, too (like Tupperware Modular Mates).

Things You'll Need

  • Pick up 3 feet (0.9 m) of 1/4" mesh hardware cloth. You may need more.
  • You'll need wire snips to cut the mesh into pieces to fit openings.
  • Staple gun with staples. Nothing fancy.
  • A bag of steel wool.
  • Spray foam in cans, but it will not keep out a determined rat.
  • Caulk for very small openings. Paintable is best for visible areas.
  • Replacement insulation and vapor barrier.

Article Info

Categories: Rodent Control