rodent proofing the home is equally important - by preventing them from entering the house at all, homeowners can save themselves the time, stress, and costs of dealing with a rodent infestation.
Unfortunately, there isn't a simple 'plug-in' solution to keep rodents away. Using a repellent like an ultrasonic repellent or a rodent strobe does not work effectively over a prolonged period (although these can help to deter or drive rodents away for a short time). Rodents become accustomed to the sounds or vibrations and the devices cease to act as deterrents. Instead, exclusionary and preventive measures need to be taken to rodent proof a home.
Exclusion basically means taking the steps to stop rodents from entering the home. All cracks, holes, spaces around pipes, utilities and wiring should all be sealed up (the use of rodent mesh is a great way to do this). Even tiny gaps and holes should be sealed off - mice can enter holes as small as the tip of an index finger, and rats can squeeze into gaps as small as the tip of a thumb! The foundation, attic and roof line are common entry points and should be carefully checked to ensure all potential entry points are securely sealed.
If you cannot safely inspect and work in these areas (or simply don't want to deal with it), it is a good idea to hire professionals to get it done properly. Taking away easy access to shelter is the biggest and most immediate step that can be taken to stop rodents from coming inside our homes.
In addition to exclusion, a few simple preventive measures can also be a tremendous help. Rodents like the feeling of safety from shrubs and dense vegetation - these should be cut back away from the house by at least 12" to 18", and trimmed off the ground by 6" or more so that the ground is clearly visible. Thick vines should be thinned out and tree branches should be trimmed away from the house as well. Stacks of firewood or other items should ideally be moved away from the house... or if they must be near the house, elevate the stack 12" to 18" off the ground.
By making it hard for rodents to feel safe around the house, and hard for them to find a way to enter it, the home will be less attractive to them and the hope is that they will move on. It takes time and effort but most homeowners will agree that it's better than dealing with an infestation, even if humane pest control methods are used to remove the rodents.
These are just a few of the things that can be done when rodent proofing a home. For additional do-it-yourself tips, see our article on preventive pest control. Prevention and maintenance are the best ways of effectively managing rodents over the long-term.