Published onOctober 4 2021
Despite experiencing some sunshine in late September and early October – we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking this will deter our furry foe. As the evenings are getting darker earlier and temperatures are starting to drop, along with natural food supplies becoming scarcer and the breeding season coming to an end, rodents will soon begin to search for warmer locations and alternative food sources.
As we enter early Autumn and the ‘rodent season’, rats and mice will actively seek out cover to weather the winter months in, with sheds, barns and other storage buildings usually becoming prime targets for accommodation.
So, what are the best precautions to take to prevent infestations and in result, subsequent damage, and the potential exposure and spread of disease?
#1 - Secure and seal the inside and outside of buildings
The first step to protecting your outdoor storage buildings from rodents is to check the inside and outside of surroundings for any potential points of entry including cracks, holes or crevices.
Rats need evidently larger holes to access than mice, around 2.5cm wide, (with males proving larger than females) whereas mice can squeeze through gaps as little as 1cm.
Typical access points can include:
- Spaces around doors and windows
- Gaps around electrical wires and plumbing pipes
- Attic vents
- In the roof among gutters, pipes and gables
- Cracks in the walls.
If you spot any cracks or crevices, make sure you seal or cover these points as soon as possible. Fine galvanised wire mesh is also an option for air bricks, vents and any eaves, if you need to allow for air to circulate.
#2 - Tidy away food containers and bags
With natural resources such as berries, seeds and apples becoming more and more scarce, rodents will look to other food sources to keep them going through the colder months.
Animal grain, bird seeds, nuts and pet food are all on the menu for mice and rats, so the easiest and one of the most effective ways to discourage rodents is to remove, or tightly store, all consumable supplies.
If you can, make sure to store food in thick airtight plastic or metal containers and keep bird feeders away from these areas.
#3 - Clean up surrounding areas and remove any potential nesting materials
Whilst inspecting buildings for any cracks or crevices, make sure you tidy surrounding areas of vegetation and debris, which removes potential nesting materials and corridors to hide and escape from predators. You should ideally do this within a 30m radius of buildings.
Do not store rubbish nearby and make sure you keep the bags in rodent-proof containers. Also, it’s a good idea to regularly clean the containers with soap and water to eliminate any inviting smells.
It’s also good practice to organise tools and supplies in your shed so you can easily and regularly inspect them.
#4 - Regularly monitor and survey locations
As previously mentioned, it’s best to routinely inspect sheds and outdoor buildings to spot any signs of a rodent infestation quickly. The following are the most common signs that illustrate rodents have moved in:
- Small faecal droppings, in and around food sources, are the biggest tell-tale sign that rodents are nearby
- Burrows or small holes (with chewed edges) are another tell-tale sign
- Items such as paper, boxes or feed bags featuring gnaw marks, along with any chewed wires
- Scratching, gnawing or scurrying sounds in the walls or ceilings, particularly at night.
#5 – Biological/Chemical Control
There are many natural and chemical-based commercial repellents you can try using prior to calling out a trained expert to implement rodenticides. Once you’ve removed the rodent’s food sources and nesting material, repellents can prove another short-term solution to deter infestations.
It is important to note that from March 2018, anticoagulant rodenticide sold to non-professionals was reduced in concentration from 50 parts per million (ppm) to 30ppm or less. In addition, the size of packs available for amateur customers was reduced to a maximum size of 300g for block and 150g for wheat, pasta and pellet baits.
If you wish to buy rodenticide in greater quantities for professional use in the UK, you are required to evidence that you have received training in using rodenticide and controlling rodents.
If you’re interested in learning more about rodent control, Lantra offers two e-learning courses which you can complete from the comfort of your home – rodent control on farms and responsible and effective control of commensal rodents. These comprehensive courses cover key rodent control legislation, best practice, biology and behaviour of rodents. These courses meet the updated standards of the CRRU UK code of Best Practice requirements (CRRU).