I have always been under the impression that after a major disaster that involved large scale loss of life and building damage there would be an immediate increase in rodent problems. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention the opposite accrues immediately after the disaster for the short term.
Rodents that survive a disaster often move to new areas. It takes time for rodents to regroup, reorganize their social behavior, become familiar with their new environment, find safe haven, locate food and water, and memorize their movements. Colony building and reproduction will begin only when their new ecosystem has stabilized. This typically takes 6 to 10 months under favorable conditions. As the rodent population grows and resettles, people have a greater chance of being exposed to the diseases carried by rodents.
At this time, unless there is a large-scale systematic effort to control the rodents they will multiple rapidly. If you are on your own without government support, you will not have the capability to control the rodents. You can’t stock enough poison and traps to control your whole property. You need to concentrate on your living and cooking areas.
The first step is to remove food, water, and items that provide shelter for rodents. Clean up your yard, don’t leave them places to hide. Dispose of debris and trash as soon as possible. Store your woodpiles and stacks of lumber or other materials at least 12 inches above the ground and as far away from your home as possible. Bury or burn your garbage, don’t let it accumulate.
Rodent proof your home
First keep everything clean and neat. Keep food and water covered and stored in rodent-proof containers. Don’t let your dirty dishes stack up. Leave nothing out to attract rodents.
Rats can enter the home through a hole the size of a quarter. Mice can enter through a hole the size of a dime. This means that your home needs to be sealed tight. Now this often is a problem after a disaster due to building damage.
There are a few things that you should keep on hand in case you have to make emergency repairs.
- Cement or cement mortar,
- 19-gauge or greater metal mesh, wire screening, or hardware cloth (1/4-inch or less spacing is preferred),
- steel wool,
- heavy-duty caulk or elastomeric sealant
- expanding foam.
These will allow you to seal small openings and make your home rodent proof. If you have had rodents in your space be sure and disinfect it.
I had a talk with a friend of mine who has been an exterminator for many years. He said forget poisons you can’t keep enough on hand. He suggested two types of traps, one the old-fashioned spring loaded traps in both sizes for rats and mice. The second type he suggested is Victor M320 Mouse Glue Boards (8.5″ x 5″) You can get a case of 72 quite inexpensively. While these will eventually run out there are very good for catching rodents in a closed structure.
If there are any around that have not been eaten you may want to consider keeping a hungry cat in your house and around your animals. The good news is that as the available food source diminish so will the rodents.