Written by Lucy Currie of Landguard Pest Control
STOP-TOBER As we move into the colder months of Autumn it’s not only us who’s feeling the chill. Aware of the shelter and warmth domestic properties offer, a range of our rodent counterparts are looking to join us. Rather than waiting for a problem to occur it may be time to think about a bit of pro-active pest proofing. Rodent proofing in its simplest terms equates to finding established or potential points of ingress (entry) and blocking them off with rodent proof materials. Proofing can be a cost effective and efficient, long-term solution to prevent rat or mouse infestations in your property. It also cuts down on the use of rodenticides (poisons) and limits the associated risks with their usage.
Firstly – know your enemy! Rodents (mice/rats/squirrels) are in possession of an amazing multi-tool… their teeth! Constantly growing incisors allow rodents to chisel through materials including light steel and mortar. And move over Houdini – rats can fit through 6mm holes and mice just 5mm. Any smaller gaps will be found and widened to an accessible size. Investigate… Points Of Ingress in Detached Properties The good thing about living in a detached property is that you are in control of the whole building and free to investigate and resolve any potential issues. The bad thing – you’re liable for the costs!
Start off by investigating around the outside of your property. The junction between the ground and wall is the main area to focus on for checking defects and also consider general habitat management. Remove all excess vegetation to prevent these areas being utilised as easy ‘corridors’ for rodent travel and to expose weaknesses in the buildings structure.
Look around and check the base region of the walls for holes and gaps in the mortar, particularly where old pipework may have been situated previously and around grates and drain covers. Check the condition of airbricks and vents. Rats and mice will constantly look to find these types of weaknesses.
Look up for squirrels! Get the ladders or binoculars out and check the roofline, fascia’s and along gutters for existing gaps and holes allowing entry to the roof cavities. If you can’t see anything obvious you may have to move on to internal proofing to at least prevent access to inside living areas. But most of all be thorough. Really thorough.
Points of ingress in Semis, Terraces, Flats and any other form of shared habitation Unfortunately to a rat or mouse you and your neighbours just live in one big building. This means what happens down the row may affect you, and to a certain extent may be out of your control. Example – if your neighbour has a damaged air brick it may allow mice or rats into the shared wall cavities allowing them to reach your property. In a case like this external proofing at your property may be completely useless as the point of ingress will be missed. If you have found that following an investigation you haven’t identified any points of ingress at your property or proofing hasn’t helped internal proofing may be the only option. This form of proofing will contain the rodents to the wall/floor/roof cavities preventing them accessing inside living spaces. * NB – If you think a pest is coming from next door and they’re being un-cooperative have a word with Environmental Health who may be able to help.
Internal Proofing Start in the kitchen and block holes around pipes or other utilities emerging from the wall cavities.
Check the behind all the kickboards and block any holes particularly along the junction between the wall and floor.
Do the same in the bathroom focusing underneath the bath and where the pipework for the sink comes in and out of the wall.
Check and proof around any down pipes for the radiators where they enter the floor or wall.
Have a good look for holes in other areas including cupboards, pantry’s, under the stairs and elsewhere.
Remember the key to successful internal proofing is being thorough. Really thorough.
Rodent Proof materials So, you’ve had a check around and identified some holes. Now you’ve just got to make sure you block them with the right stuff – rodent proof materials. Good EXTERNAL proofing materials External proofing materials must be rodent proof and weather proof. Depending on the size of hole identified use cement mortar, sheet metal or mesh. Vents can be protected by cutting galvanised or stainless-steel mesh to size or you can alternatively buy purpose made screens. Make sure the mesh is the correct gauge (thick enough) to make it resistant to gnawing. Good INTERNAL proofing materials Try wire wool, sheet metal or cement mortar as appropriate to the application. Some rodent proof fillers such as ‘Mouse-stop’ may come in handy too. Note – expanding foam is not rodent proof! It only works to indicate where rodents have got back in, evidenced by holes in the foam and chewed up pieces.
And don’t forget DRAINAGE! If you are experiencing rats and can’t find any obvious points of ingress you may have to think about getting a drain survey. This will hopefully identify any weaknesses the rats are exploiting to gain access sub surface. It may be possible to isolate your property from rodents using a one-way valve. Please let us know if you require more info about rats and drains. Finally… Pest proofing for rodents is a huge subject so please get in contact with any questions or advice you may require and together let’s try stay rodent free this Autumn!