Tips and Tricks: Control air movement to block rats, mice


November 16, 2012

By James Rodriguez

Western Territory Manager, J.T. Eaton & Co.

Rats and mice are always foraging for food and looking for harborage areas — traveling from shadowed area to shadowed area, exploring the odors of the day with their keen sense of smell and using their vibrissae like antennas to monitor air movement for approaching predators.

Because rodents’ weakest attribute is their eyesight, they rely heavily on their other abilities like speed, agility and powerful sense of smell, which involves a movement called “whiskering.” This movement can detect minute vibrations from running water and changes in air pressure, for example. Keeping this in mind when you’re performing a rodent inspection will make you a better rodent specialist.

A rodent can gnaw holes on the hardest material if they want to gain access to a structure. So what is exclusion really about? The answer to that lies in controlling air movement. A plastic door sweep is nowhere near enough to keep out a rodent, but it does prevent air transfer — and creates a mock “wall” to a passing rodent.

Using the most durable material in rodent exclusion is always preferable, but weather-stripping in particular prevents odors and temperatures from escaping a building. The better the weather-stripping around garage doors, windows and doorways, the less likely you are to have problems.

Other tips to finding openings large enough for a rat or mouse by focusing on air movement include:

• In the summer, focus on cool spots around a building: pipes, crawlspace vents, air-conditioning units, cool air escaping from the structure at the base of stucco walls, anything that produces condensation, running water such as fountains or swimming pools, and cool air escaping from vents around the base of structures.

• In the winter, focus on hot and warm spots around a building, including water heaters, around appliances, heat escaping from garages and door sweeps, insulated areas, warm equipment or vehicles.

The answer for rodent control is always “in the air”!

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