Sanitation means keeping food away from rodents and making your home and its sur-roundings less rodent-friendly.
A Fine Mess
All three control measures -- sanitation, rodent-proofing, and reducing populations -- are essential for a successful rodent-control program. Don't skip one of these steps!
Around the House
Food, water, and shelter provided for pets often contribute to rodent population problems. Pet food and bird food are two of the most common rodent attractors. The smells of both are extremely attractive. Once rodents get a taste, they'll try to feed there as often as they can-daily, if possible.
Food-sanitation measures include the following:
Storing bulk foods in rodent-proof containers or rooms. Metal canisters and glass containers with lids that seal tightly are as rodent-proof as you can get. In a pinch, very thick plastic is also an option. If you enjoy feeding birds, keep feed in rodent-proof containers, too.
Keeping stored foods off the floor and away from walls. This is a step more suited to places where large quantities of foodstuffs are stored, but one to keep in mind if you have a pantry or closet where you keep food.
Wiping or vacuuming up spilled food, from either cooking or storage, as soon as you see it. Flour and sugar easily migrate from their containers, especially if you store them in their original packaging. Rodents love both. Corn meal and other grain products are also prime rodent targets.
Picking up animal food after your pets eat. Many owners "free-feed" their pets, allowing their animals free access to food 24/7. Switching to a controlled feeding program — you put food down, your pet eats what it wants during a specific period of time, after which you pick it up — may take some adjusting to for animals and owners, but it will also keep the food away from rodents.
Making your home less hospitable for furry creatures involves outdoor and indoor measures. Outdoor sanitation includes
Clearing away brush and grass growing near or next to your home's foundation. Rodents use both to build nests, and as hiding spots when they're not in your house.
Relocating bird feeders. If you have bird feeders near your home, move them to another spot farther away. If this isn't possible, use squirrel-proof feeders and clean up all spilled seed every night.
Finding new places to stack wood, lumber, and other building materials if necessary. All should be located at least 100 feet away from your home.
Hauling away trash or anything else that rodents can nest in, including old tires, fallen trees, abandoned cars, and old lawn mowers.
Keeping trash and recyclables in rodent-proof containers with tight-fitting lids. Old-fashioned metal garbage pails are ideal.
Keeping grass closely mowed. Also, cutting any limbs on trees that overhang your house will give roof rats less access to your roof.