9 Tips on What to do Now to Reduce the Risk of Rats and Mice in Fall and Winter
Well, that was quick. One week it's sunny and warm and now it's cool and rainy. The change in seasons from summer to fall has been swift —prompting many of us to head indoors to warmer, drier surroundings. But, while we head indoors, we need to make sure we take precautions to prevent rats and mice from doing the same. After all, we are not the only ones who'd rather be warm and dry than cold and wet.
Rats and mice are attracted to sources of food and shelter.
Rats and mice are commensal, meaning they are often with or near people and may depend upon you for at least part of their food or shelter. They are also opportunistic, looking for an opportunity to access your home.

According to the Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District (District), they pose a risk of disease and property damage. That's why the District advises Contra Costa County residents to take these steps now to reduce the chance that a rat or mouse will seek shelter in your home.

  1. When putting away the Halloween decorations and patio furniture in a garage or attic, be sure to take a look at vent screens and make sure they fit securely and there are no rips or tears.
  2. Also, check under and on the sides of the main garage door to make sure weather stripping extends to the ground and does not provide an opening for easy rat or mouse entry.
  3. If storing pet food or birdseed in a garage or shed, store the contents in a metal container with a secure lid.
  4. While clearing rain gutters, check for gaps where dormers meet the roof, inspect roof vents for rips, tears, and proper fit, and check out roof tiles to make sure none are missing.
  5. And pay close attention to winterizing an outdoor grill.
  • Remove any grease and food particles that could attract rats and mice and carefully clean the grill.
  • If covering the grill, make sure the cover does not extend all the way to the ground so that rats and mice cannot move around on the grill unseen.
  • Store the grill away from the house so that it cannot be used, particularly by roof rats, who will climb in search of an entry point into your home.

In addition to making sure the garage and grill are less attractive to rats and mice, there are a few more areas around the house that could use a second look to make sure rats and mice won't find potential food or shelter.

  1. Remove any fallen fruit or overripe fruit that is still on trees in the yard to deny rats and mice a source of food.
  2. Remove climbing vines against the house that can provide rats with extra traction to climb around the roof and look for entry points.
  3. Move woodpiles off of the ground and away from the house to deny rats and mice a source of shelter and an aid in climbing.
  4. Make sure outdoor air conditioning units and pool heating units have tight-fitting screens to prevent rats and mice from climbing inside and using the insulation for nesting material. Rats also gnaw on anything they can find and if they chew on wiring in an air conditioning or heating unit, they've been known to start fires.

If after taking all of these steps to reduce the risk of rats and mice, you still find evidence of rats or mice in your home or yard, contact the District to request service. The District provides inspection of Contra Costa County residential properties and advice on how to reduce the risk of rats and mice.
Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District, an independent special district and public health agency, is located at 155 Mason Circle in Concord. Contact the District to report mosquito and vector problems online or at (925) 685-9301.