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Reducing Rodent Numbers

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Once you've made your home less hospitable to your furry guests by sanitizing your house, it's time to eliminate the ones that have already taken up residence.

There are several effective approaches for doing so, including trapping, poisoning, electrifying, and fumigating.


Trapping can be very effective if you're only dealing with a few rodents. Many people prefer this approach to chemicals, especially when there are young children and pets about. Another strong advantage to using traps is odor control. Rodents die in the traps, rather than behind walls or in other inaccessible places.

Traps range from the classic spring-loaded wooden snap traps that you probably remember from kiddie cartoons to deluxe live traps capable of capturing multiple critters. If you decide to use traps, be sure to check them every day and dispose of trapped animals promptly.

The Skinny on Snap Traps

Wooden snap traps are widely available, cheap, and relatively easy to use. There are several different types; ones with an expanded trigger catch are more effective than older designs, and they don't have to be baited, which makes them worth seeking out.

If you're going to use snap traps, be sure to select the right kind of trap. There are different sizes for mice and rats, with the ones for rats being much bigger. Try to catch rats in mousetraps, and you'll probably end up with perfectly set traps, minus their bait.

Snap traps all work in much the same way, so the advice here goes for all of them, but be sure to read any instructions that come along with the trap before setting it:

  • Always set traps in groups of two or three. This will ensure that the rodent hits the business end of one of them. Not doing so can cause false traps as the animal will set off the mechanism and not get hurt. Smart rodents get "trap shy," and learn how to grab the bait without setting off the trap. Also, position the traps so they form a "T" with the wall, with the bait end nearest the wall.

  • If you're using bait, place a small amount on the trap's bait pan. Peanut butter is one possible choice, but you can use just about anything, as rodents will eat just about anything. Even chocolate. If you're dealing with both mice and rats, you'll need to set snap traps that are appropriately sized for both. Or you can buy a trap designed to catch both.

If you're concerned about children or pets getting into your snap traps, look for tamper-resistant bait stations. Traps fit right into these handy devices, which keep fingers and non-targeted animals away from the traps and protect rodent bait from moisture and other possible contaminants.

Bringing Them Back Alive

Some people prefer live traps as some of them can catch multiple rodents without being reset, which means you don't have to deal with the critters as often. Since they keep the animals alive, they're also viewed as more humane. However, experts don't recommend using them if Hantavirus is a concern, as they can scare rodents and cause them to urinate, which increases the risk of Hantavirus exposure.

Live traps can be found in hardware, home, farm-supply, and feed stores. They range from single-animal traps to large devices that can handle a dozen or so rodents at a time.

Like snap traps, live traps should be placed up against walls, behind objects, and in secluded areas where droppings, gnawing, and damage are evident. Orient them with the entrance hole parallel to the wall. Follow the manufacturer instructions for setting and baiting.

When releasing rodents from live traps, don't just put them out the front door. Find an open field far enough away from your home so they won't be tempted to comeback in.

Tips for Glue Traps

Glue traps or glue boards, as they're known in the pest-control industry, are the easiest traps to use as you don't have to set them. All you have to do is bait and put in place. As rodents run over the boards, they get tangled in the glue and eventually suffocate.

Glue traps are available for mice and rats. However, age and cold temperatures can diminish their effectiveness. They're also not recommended in Hantavirus areas, for the same reason discussed previously (the rodent can still urinate on them).

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Common Household Disasters © 2005 by Paul Hayman and Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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