Dealing with rats or mice can be incredibly stressful. These are dirty, noisy pests that can do a lot of damage. They also breed fast enough that it may seem like the problem will never go away.

The key to a successful extermination is to get rid of what’s feeding the animals and guide them toward baited traps and rodenticides. This involves a thorough cleaning and pest-proofing of the house.

If you’re trying to get rid of rodents, check out the following steps. If you need help, contact a professional for rat control Peterborough or near you.

  1. Limit food and water

Rodents invade our homes for food and shelter. If you can limit the amount of food available to them, you will encourage them to feed on bait, instead. Put all your pantry foods in sealed containers and clean the kitchen from top to bottom. Avoid leaving any food out, especially overnight. This includes pet food, dirty dishes, and bits of food in the sink.

While you are getting rid of the infestation, get in the habit of maintaining a clean home. Vacuum every week and take out the garbage every night. Try to eat only in the kitchen and dining room, so there are no crumbs elsewhere in the house. If you store food elsewhere, like in the basement, treat it like the pantry. Use airtight containers and keep the area clean.

  1. Get rid of hiding spots

The next step in the process is to get rid of hiding spots. As prey, rodents are skittish creatures that love cluttered areas where they can move around undetected. Removing these hiding spots and creating space will encourage the pests to move out and make it easier for you to get rid of them. You’ll be able to keep track of their population and target them more effectively.

Get organized and get rid of unnecessary clutter. Take things off the floor so you can see your baseboards. Store things where they belong and vacuum thoroughly. The tidier the home, the better. When you’re done, seal any gaps you find in the walls, baseboards, or kitchen cabinets to draw the pests out of their hiding spots and into your traps.

  1. Eliminate points of entry

With every pest problem, you should do everything you can to prevent more pests from getting inside the house. Rodents, especially rats, will go in and out of the house every day in search of food. If you can block their movement, you can trap the rodents indoors and eliminate them. You can also install a one-way door to the entrance the rats use the most, so that you force them out of the house when they go out to feed. Pest control technicians often do this when getting rid of interior infestations.

Entry points refer to any opening on the home’s exterior that could fit a mouse or a rat. Look for cracks in the foundation, gaps under your doors, and holes surrounding your cables and plumbing. Cracks between siding panels, broken window frames, torn screens, wall vents, and gaps between the soffits and the exterior wall may also be letting in rodents. Seal these shut with caulking or a thick, quarter-inch mesh. Expanding foam may be useful, but it can be chewed through.

  1. Set traps and bait stations

Rodents will not go away with one or two traps. It takes several, well-placed traps to get rid of these pests. Check out the traps available on the market and set them in areas of rodent activity. There are snap traps, electronic traps, and live traps, each with their set of pros and cons. Pick the ones you like and bait them with a very small amount of peanut butter, jerky, or gummy candy. Set them along the baseboards or the backs of your kitchen cabinets. Anywhere the animals walk at night.

If you’re dealing with mice, you can get bait stations from a pest control company and set these in the house. These are little plastic containers of rodenticide. Rodenticide is highly effective. Once ingested, the pests feel sick and retreat into their nests to perish.

If you’re dealing with rats, however, do not use rodenticide indoors. Rats are large enough to cause an awful smell when they perish between the walls. Only use rodenticide outdoors when getting rid of rats. A professional can supply this for you and put it in the most effective spot.

  1. Maintain the yard

Since rats come from outside, you should make the yard as pest-proof as possible. Get rid of food sources and hiding spots, as you would indoors. Maintain the lawn and get rid of leaf piles and debris. Trim back your shrubs, vines, and hedges. Move things away from the walls of your home, like piles of wood and patio furniture, so that the rodents have nowhere to hide while sneaking into the house.

If you grow fruits and vegetables, be sure to harvest them on time and consider covering them with mesh. There are lots of pest-proofing solutions available in garden centers and online. Check out raised garden beds with mesh covers. Finally, remove the bird feeder and store your garbage cans in a shed or in the garage. Make sure that they are securely covered and clean them to remove odors.