Top five most attractive things in the garden that attracts rats and mice
Bird Feeders – Most rats and mice love an urban garden with a bird feeder – don’t kid yourself your only feeding the birds, 20% of the food is going on the floor to be hoovered up by the fastest food thieves in the business.
The home farm yard – We all love them but its a sad fact that chickens and rabbits pull rats and mice to your home like a magnet. If you keep either in your garden it wont be long before they have to share their food with unwelcome lodgers.
Composters and Bins – The hottest place in town with a meal thrown in. If rats or even mice can get access into your compost then you are providing not only food but a warm centrally heated home to live in.
Garden sheds – Everyone has one of these but if they are rotten at the base, standing on bare soil or adjacent to the previous two then you have a dry sheltered lodge for all rodents.
Ponds – Everything needs a drink, especially in summer, Rats in particular need to drink so if you have some bushes or a rockery around to provide a bit of cover then you may inadvertently be providing a convenient watering hole.
If you have any of the first three on this list you will attract rats or mice at some time or other the other two will make it easier for them to stay.
Once they’re in the garden the next obvious step is the house
Rats and Mice are all agile and strong climbers, so now we need to look at the entry points into your house or business.
Garage doors – We haven’t seen many standard up and over garage doors that will stop a mouse getting past it. To work properly there has to be a gap at the sides and bottom and this is usually enough to allow a mouse access, If you can get your little finger under it or in it then a mouse can squeeze through. Most Integral garages will have some pipes or holes through ceilings or walls for him to get into the house from there. Rats need a bigger gap but if they can get their nose in then they will chew round the rest.
Wall climbing plants up to the guttering – A climbing frame for rodents up to your roof, nothing could be easier.
Service pipes and plumbing through external walls – How many holes are in your wall the size of a 5 pence piece or around pipes where the builders left a gap, or cement fell out over time. One of the easiest and most common routes indoors for mice. Rats need a gap of about one inch.
Under door sills – Rarely looked at but under your door sill there will be a fillet of cement that the builder used to level it when he fitted it. Within 10 years or less this will have probably crumbled and fallen out in places leaving an easy entry point at ground level to your cavity wall.
Airbricks – If the brick is damaged or the holes are big enough for you to put the tip of your little finger in then its another easy entry point to your cavity wall or under the suspended floor.
Last but not least, the open door – Sounds obvious but it is not uncommon for a rat or mouse to dive into a house if undisturbed. Once in they will discover a world of scary opportunism, but conquer it they will and quickly.
Rats are a bit less likely to share your space as they are shy and not at all sociable with humans, nevertheless we regularly come across them indoors, how they get there is not always obvious or how you might expect.
Remember these three things because a rat will need them all to survive in or around your home. Food, Water and a Safe secure Shelter. Take away any one and he wont find it half as attractive.
Two Types of Rat Infestation
There are two types of indoor rat infestation we come across, firstly the ground floor, where it got in from the outside through a hole in the wall or door. Most common places are the Integral garage or utility. Once indoors they will strive to avoid human contact so they will head for the nearest dark secluded place in the space they are in. The cluttered garage is obvious and they will occupy the securest spot. In the kitchen or utility they usually get behind washing machines, fridges or freezers, behind the kitchen/utility units kickboard.
The broken drain – The second is less common but all too frequently experienced thanks to a combination of bad building practice and subsidence. The damaged or badly installed drain is the easy way in for rats.
Fact 1 Rats live in our sewers,
Fact 2 Rats will travel up domestic drains as far as they can get (usually the first obstacle on the ground floor ie. Vertical pipe or toilet)
Fact 3 Any drain defect under the house or garden will be exploited at some time by a rat
Most Common Scenarios
Soil pipe – This is the pipe that connects your toilet and sinks to the underground drains and runs up to your roof to vent all the fumes. This is fixed to the walls and floors of your house. It then travels through a concrete slab on your ground floor, so it is secured extremely firmly and isn’t moving. Underneath the concrete floor slab of your house are your ground drains, which are laid in shingle and soil. Over a period of many years all that soil under the concrete slab will dry out and shrink several inches, pulling the soil pipe gradually out of its socket. This can leave a gap wide enough for a rat to get out and under your house. Once out of the drain and under the house he can climb up the cavity wall and get under your 1st floor floorboards or roof space. First signs will be things scurrying or going bump in the night under the floorboards or in the roof amongst the xmas decorations!
There are many variations of this like broken gulley pots and U bends, disconnected or unconnected drains following a building extension. Defective inspection chambers and collapsed pipes are also common. If your drain blocks regularly or you find soil in the drain pipe something isn’t right.
You can be certain of one thing though, if there are rats in your roof it is unlikely that he walked in the back door, climbed the stairs, put up your loft ladder opened the hatch and climbed in, so how did they get past you without being noticed if not up the cavity wall?. To access the cavity wall there is 99% chance there is either a hole in your external wall or you have a drain problem underground. This issue can be further complicated if you live in a terraced house or semi-detached property as the problem may be being caused by a neighbours property.
We can firstly get rid of the rats quickly and secondly advise you what to do next to discover the reason why and how they got there. I have seen some pest control companies revisit properties for years with simple drain defects that could be resolved for a few pounds if the owners had been told about it. But more surprisingly perhaps, I have surveyed some properties for many years with these simple problems with owners who are fully aware of the cause and for one reason or another don’t repair the drain !
There are now available very cost effective permanent solutions to drain problems that don’t involve digging up your house and garden or replacing drains from as little as £200 which will last a lifetime. The recent changes in legal ownership of shared drains to water companies also helps resolve issues.
For more information ring us and we will be happy to advise.