Every year, residents in Benalla Rural City contend with rodent damage to their food, property and in the worst cases, fires from electrical damage.
Mice pose health risk to humans through the spread of disease. They also threaten livestock and cause major damage to agricultural crops by eating seeds and grains. They compete with native wildlife for food and habitat and frequently damage nests and eat the eggs of native birds and reptiles.
How do I know if I have a rodent problem?
Evidence of rodents includes droppings, damage to packaging or dropped nesting material. If you see evidence of rodents, there is no need to wait until you see mice or rats in the home. Act immediately to control the pest as mice populations can escalate quickly.
How to control rodent populations
- Make sure all packaged products are clean and in a secure storage room or shed. If this isn’t possible, secure cupboards and rodent proof plastic storage containers help to minimise available food sources.
- Keep your home clean and free of food sources. This includes washing up and both indoor and outdoor cooking and eating areas straight away. Mice are active at night.
- Compost is attractive to mice. Keep compost as far from the house as possible.
- Keep food in thick plastic, metal or glass containers with tight lids. Mice can eat through thin plastic packaging.
- Maintain your lawn and get rid of junk from the yard that could be a nesting site for mice.
- Seal holes in and around the home to prevent entry. You can fix small holes with steel wool.
- Fit pest proof weather strips to external doors.
- Inspect electrical switchboards, under sinks and in all draws for evidence of rodent infestation.
- Use traps if you do have a rodent problem
Stay safe during a rodent infestation
- Keep your own food sources safe from contamination.
- Avoid storing drink cans and packaged foods on contaminated shelves as diseases can be transferred via the packaging.
- All food contact surfaces and equipment need to be sanitised prior to every use until the infestation is eradicated.
- If you have a water tank or private water supply, make sure it is rodent proof and not being contaminated by rodent droppings or dead rodents. This can occur particularly when baits are used, making the dying animals thirsty.
- Mice burrow into the ground for shelter. Block any holes near septic tank trenches and dispose of any litter or other shelter that may be present.
- Steel wool is adequate as a temporary measure to prevent rodent access however this should be replaced with permanent rodent proof sealants and building materials as soon as possible. Most expanding foam is only rodent resistant and they may chew back through easily. Any hole or gap large enough to fit a pen will provide access by a mouse. You’ll need to block access to provide a long-term solution. Check around ovens, fridges and hot water services.
- Inspect electrical switchboards, under sinks and in all draws for evidence of rodent infestation. Fit pest proof weather strips to external doors where necessary and internal doors if further rodent movement restriction might be needed.
- If you choose to use bait stations, carefully follow the packaging instructions. Note that baits often poison pets and children. It is critical that baits are not accessible to pets or children.
- If you identify native mice, rather than an introduced species, try to block access rather than relying on poisons.
- Pallet baits can be transported by rodents, threatening food products. If you do use pallet baits, monitor them for activity and take extra care with your own food.
Clean up where rodents have been
Mice droppings and urine are potentially infectious. You'll need to clean up if you see evidence of mice. Cleaning should occur during the problem as well as afterward, to make sure the hazard is eradicated from your home. If you don't break the cycle, you may end up with the same problem all over again.
Some simple points to remember when cleaning up include:
- Use gloves, paper towel, soap and water.
- Use bleach - but safely. Make sure you follow the safety and handling instructions. Make up a new batch of diluted bleach for each use.
- Clean all surfaces, including benches, shelving, doors, door and cupboard handles, storage areas, sinks, floors and any other areas of possible contamination.
- Be especially careful in the kitchen and be sure to clean all potentially contaminated food contact surfaces, including utensils, equipment, crockery and cutlery.
For more information, visit the Department of Health website.