During autumn there is enough food for them outside, but as soon as the weather turns cooler, rats and mice often venture indoors, where they find themselves a winter wonderland of warm shelter and food sources.

There are predominantly three main rodent species in South Africa namely the Norway or Brown rat, Roof or House Rat and the House mice.

The word ‘commensal’ is often synonymous with rodents as it literally means eating at the same table. Rodents will eat your food, damage your possessions and also spread disease throughout your home.

Domestic rodents are considered pests for the following three reasons:

1. Loss of food supplies

House mice and Roof rats are known to consume both stored food and growing crops such as rice, maize and sugar cane fields also contaminating food as they feed.

2. Damage to structures and materials

Rodents can cause severe damage to electricity and water supply equipment due to their gnawing and burrowing, as well as undermining the building structures.

3. Transmission of disease

All three the mentioned species can spread Salmonella through their droppings. Infected rats also transmit the bubonic plaque and Murine typhus onto humans through fleas. In addition rat bites are known to be infectious.

There are five golden rules to remember when managing rodent infestations in and around your home:

1. Inspection

Remember that knowing how to get rid of them means knowing where they can get into your home. Have a look around your home and try to determine where the infestation is coming from. Look for smear marks, droppings, food and structural damage.

2. Identification

By inspecting the rodent’s droppings, you will be able to determine which of the three typical species you have in your home, which in turn will allow you to determine the correct way to eliminate the problem.

3. Sanitation

In order to remove the rodent you need to make sure that you remove its food sources. This includes regular cleaning, making sure that food is stored in air-tight containers, as well as removing water sources such as stagnant pools, fountains and ponds.

4. Rodent proofing

Closing off all the typical places which would give rodents a gateway into your home is very important.  Pay attention to holes in exterior walls and make sure to screen your down pipes leading in and out of the gutter.

5. Applying rodenticide

When deciding what rodenticide to use make sure that you read the label carefully or it could lead environmental damage as well as accidental poisoning of pets.

For more information visit http://www.rentokil.co.za/rats/