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Controlling rodents in outbuildings

Sanitation and making your outbuilding less attractive to rodents will reduce the problem

Mice and rats are creatures of opportunity. The contents of your outbuilding or shed might be their good fortune.

Bob Pierce is an Extension fish and wildlife specialist at the University of Missouri. He says droppings and signs of gnawing on the walls are indicators of rodent activity. The simplest control method for mice is setting snap traps in strategic locations, baited with oatmeal and peanut butter.

However, if you don’t know where they’re coming in from, they’ll keep getting in. In that case, a rodenticide is an option.

"You can use rodenticides very safely by using a bait station, which means that you put the bait into a commercially-constructed bait station, which just keeps the bait from being consumed by non-target animals," says Pierce. "It keeps the bait fresh and in a condition that’s going to be attractive to the rodent."

Rats have bad eyesight, but have very keen senses of taste, hearing, and smell. They’re also pretty smart, and can quickly detect and learn to avoid new objects in a familiar environment. Within a few days, they probably thumb their noses at any traps or bait stations.

They’re obviously bigger than mice, but can chew their way in through an opening as small as a quarter-inch in diameter. Pierce says you’ll have to be very observant to find where those spots might be, and then rat-proof the building.

"Use sheet metal or hardware cloth, wire mesh-types of materials, aluminum flashing, anything that can close that opening. Even steel wool can be packed into an opening for a temporary plug," says Pierce.

Rodents are particularly attracted to places where food is stored. If you can’t find their entry points, store foods and grains in rodent-proof containers. Good sanitary practices will also make the environment less enticing to them.

Tips for getting rid of rats

Learn more about the types of bait stations that control mice and rats

Once you've gotten ride of the rodents, here's how to clean up after them

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