Rats and Mice Bothering You .... To Bait or Not to Bait?

Our warm, wet summer, has seen the population of rodents (rats and mice) multiply more than usual.  As the weather cools, you can expect these pesky little intruders to seek shelter in your roof cavity, in your sheds, and if you are unlucky, indoors too.  Rats and mice carry disease and can be, well, downright smelly - and most people will want to control their population.   

How do you know when you’ve too many mice.  Of course, it all depends on your own personal tolerance – for me it is when they move indoors, begin eating my home grown fruit and vegetables, or nibbling on electrical cables and damaging items in the shed when they become a problem.   It then becomes important to control their populations in and around your home and outbuildings.  

Depending on your ethics, whether you have small children or dogs, and the rodent population levels on your property, there are several different measures you can use to control these pesky pests.  Importantly, rat and mice poisons are just that, POISONOUS.  Please take care when using poisons in and around your home.  Be sure to wear gloves when handling baits and baiting stations, and ensure that no poisons can be touched or eaten by children and dogs - using specially made bait stations is the best way to avoid accidental poisoning and off target damage to other species.  Know what baits you have on your property, and if your dog, or a neighbour’s dog is accidentally poisoned by baits be sure to seek veterinary care immediately and tell the vet what the active ingredient in the bait was

There are two common active ingredients in baits available to home owners.

Warfarin based baits (such as Double Strength Ratsak) must be consumed by rats and mice over a few days to consume a lethal dose.   Using warfarin based baits can reduce the possibility of secondary poisoning as larger amounts of poison need to be consumed per body kilogram, and they need to be consumed on consecutive days.

Brodifacoum based baits (Fast Action Raksak, Talon) are more lethal, and only need to be consumed once to consume a lethal dose.  Most rats and mice will die within four to seven days of consuming Brodifacoum.   

If you choose to use baits, it’s important that you continue placing baits in your bait stations the baits are no longer taken – generally maintaining an uninterrupted supply for a couple of weeks will allow you to get effective control of rodents in your home and garden. 

There are several bait stations on the market, some disposable, some re-usable.  They are child proof (… and when I have cold fingers, adult proof too!).   If you have an area where children and dogs are excluded, you can make your own bait station by purchasing a length of PVC downpipe (say 1m long), and screwing an end cap on one end.    Place the bait in the pipe, and tie the pipe along the bottom of the fence (…. Rats and mice will generally run along walls and fencelines).  This method is very effective if you have problems with rats in your chicken run or hen house. 

Wax blocks are manufactured to use in damp and outdoor locations, whereas packets of throw baits (generally wrapped in paper) are perfect to put into your roof cavity where it is cool and dry. 

Old fashioned traps are still available, and modern, live catch (and release) traps are also available.   The dilemma of course, with live catch traps, is what to do with the mice and rats.   If you let them out of the trap in your own garden they are likely to find their way inside again.   I know of a gorgeous, kind and oh so caring home owner who has taken mice to her local vet to be euthanised – but that, of course, is a very expensive option if you have a large population of rats and mice.   

Good garden and shed hygiene will help to deter rats and mice.  If you have hens, rabbits, guinea pigs and other pets, be sure to only feed each day what your animals can eat.  Over feeding will only encourage rats and mice, as will unkept outbuildings, messy woodpiles and rubbish.   And of course, exclusion is important to prevent them entering the home.  Fill any holes and entry points with No More Gaps, or use fine steel wool and wedge it around pipe inlets under the sink and in the laundry.  

Whichever method suits your home and garden, be sure to keep using it until you have your population under control, and if you have any questions our garden centre staff will be happy to speak with you.

 

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