With forecasters predicting the harshest winter the UK has seen in half a century, pest controllers are now advising people to make sure their homes are fully protected against invading rodents.
At a time when we feel like bolting our doors and keeping winter cold outside, it is hardly surprising that mice, rats and squirrels are trying to join us in our sanctuaries of warmth.
But it is once those furry creatures are inside that the damage will be done - they will not only scratch, gnaw and rip items apart to make nesting materials but they will also chew beams and joists, causing structural damage, and through electrical cables, which can cause fires. Even without these life-threatening problems, a mouse will spread urine and droppings all over your house.
Paul Bates, Managing Director for Cleankill Pest Control, says now is the time to block up holes and gaps and stop the creatures taking up residence for the winter.
“It’s so much better to take preventive action now if you’ve had a problem in the past as the rodents are likely to return,” he explains.
He goes on to explain: “It is funny how often, when carrying out home surveys, we find external doors that simply don’t fit properly. A mouse can get in through a gap the width of a pencil, so if there is a gap, make sure you fit a bristle-strip draft excluder to the base.”
Pest controllers advise taking a number of other steps to keep out unwelcome visitors, including:
- Checking around outside walls to make sure that air bricks are intact. In older buildings it is also wise to look at the size of hole in the air bricks as Victorian airbricks often have gaps large enough to allow mice in. Fine mesh panels can be fitted over the airbricks to stop unwelcome visitors entering.
- Removing kick plates from the bottom of kitchen units, cleaning out any food debris that may have collected beneath them and checking for any signs of mouse droppings. With a single mouse producing up to 80 droppings per day, they will be easy to see. If you do find droppings, clean them up so that you can spot any new ones.
- Go under the stair cupboard and have a clear out. Quite often, the gas pipes and other services come through the floorboards under the stairs and these cupboards become storage ‘glory holes’ for all manner of rubbish and provide an undisturbed area for mice to overwinter.
- Check your loft as both rats and squirrels can climb the outside walls and get into lofts through damaged soffits and fascia boards. They can then make nice, warm harbourages in the loft insulation and will happily chew their way through paper and cardboard boxes containing valuable family heirlooms and Christmas decorations. If you see a squirrel going into the loft, take action quickly as a family of squirrels will start gnawing through your roof joists, and this will be an expensive repair job.
Paul added: “These practical pest proofing measures won’t guarantee your home stays rodent-free, but they will deter most animals from setting up home in your house. If, however, you do find you still get mice rats or squirrels entering, our strong advice is not to put down poisons yourself. DIY pest control is rarely effective as the bait needs to be properly positioned and in the right quantities to work – or you will end up giving your rodent visitors a free meal. It is much better to contact a professional pest control company – preferably a member of the British Pest Control Association such as Cleankill. Make sure that you get an agreed price for a course of treatments first, which should include a minimum of three visits – one to lay the bait, one to check on progress, and one to remove the bait at the end of the treatment.”
Cleankill started in 1995 and is a specialist provider of pest control services to retail, commercial and industrial properties throughout the UK. The company deals with ‘distress’ pests such as wasps and fleas, as well as preventative maintenance against public health pests such as mice and rats. Cleankill can also clear and proof buildings against pest birds. The company prides itself on fast and efficient service delivery and aims to be recognised as a market leader for innovation and new pest control techniques.