According to a 2017 survey by the National Pest Management Association, more than one-third of all Americans had encountered a rodent in their home in the previous year. That’s why many people may have found themselves searching for a mouse exterminator to get rid of the pests in their homes. But you might be wondering how exactly exterminators get rid of mice.
That’s why today we’ll discuss what mice exterminator experts do to solve your rodent problem (as well as what you can do to prepare for their visit). But first, let’s take a look at what exactly attracts rodents to your property in the first place.
What Attracts Mice?
Keep in mind!
The three main things that mice look for when they invade a home are food, water, and shelter.
If mice find these things in your home, they’ll set up nests and breed, which can lead to a serious mouse problem over time. Once a rodent infestation starts, it can be very difficult to get rid of.
While homeowners can typically handle a rodent infestation without bringing in the professionals, you may end up having to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to call a mouse extermination expert to deal with your mouse problem before it becomes an epidemic.
How Do Exterminators Get Rid of Mice?
Professional exterminators use a variety of methods to get rid of mice. The service plan you receive will be tailored to suit your personal situation, and will often include a combination of mechanical traps and rodenticide baits.
During the initial visit, your exterminator will examine your property to assess the exact nature of your mouse infestation. They will then draw up an integrated pest management plan based on the species of mouse and the extent of the problem.
Treatment typically involves using mechanical devices and chemical baits to get rid of the mice, and sealing off of entry points to prevent reinfestation.
When a qualified mouse exterminator comes to your home, there are certain things that you can be certain they’ll do. Let’s take a look at those actions and why they’re important.
Eliminate entry points
Mice don’t need very large entry points to get into your home. Most breeds can fit into holes as small as a dime, which means that any cracks, dents, or weak points will have to be sealed to prevent entry.
One of the first things an exterminator does is search the exterior and interior of your home for easy entry points. They’ll then apply wire mesh, hardware cloth, or sheet metal to the smaller entry points to prevent rodents from getting in. Surprisingly enough, these entry points often include utility pipes and vents. They will also advise you on the best ways to seal larger holes (those over 1.5 in./3.8 cm in diameter).
For you DIY problem solvers, avoid using caulk, plastic, rubber, or wood seals in any entry points you might find. Mice can gnaw through these materials. Weatherstripping for doors and window gaps also helps form a seal against rodent entry.
Set up mouse traps
If you catch an infestation early enough, a mouse exterminator may recommend placing at least a dozen mouse traps around your home. They’ll often set up a variety of different trap types around your kitchen, bathrooms, attic, and basement. This is because different traps work on different mice. Glue boards, snap traps, and the different kinds of live capture traps will help control smaller populations without adding harmful chemicals to your home.
If the infestation is large enough, then these traps will only put a small dent in the population, leading us to the next step.
Set up bait stations
Bait stations may be similar to traps, but they kill rodents by providing easily accessible poisoned food. Some homeowners might not see the value in these stations. It might seem like they would attract more pests than they kill, but their effects on a nest or colony are impressive, killing the rodents quickly over time.
After these bait stations reduce the size of the colony, exterminators will then be able to track the rodents to their nests. They can remove their bodies before further pest, hygiene, or odor problems begin to affect your home.
Some companies go straight to bait stations and only use traps as a secondary control method.
Fumigate for mice
Finally, if an infestation is severe enough, the mouse exterminator may call for fumigation to tackle the problem.
This is a control method that can only be carried out by a professional. It’s only used as a last resort.
In some places, home fumigation is illegal. In these areas, you can only use fumigants in outdoor burrows, grain storage structures, warehouses, and train cars.
If you live in a place where residential fumigation is legal, you, your family, and your pets will have to leave your home for several days. This will give the exterminator time to spray the poison designed to wipe out entire colonies of mice.
Fumigation is a last resort for many exterminators since the procedure is expensive and dangerous. You’ll have to spend some time cleaning your counters and surfaces afterward to make sure that they are safe to use. But if you are considering fumigation, here are a few things you should know.
How long do mouse extermination take?
There are several things you can do to prepare for a visit from an exterminator. You can start by clearing the way for the technicians to do their thing. This means clearing out cupboards and moving appliances and boxes that may block access to affected areas.
You should also clear up any existing rodent droppings, and generally keeping on top of cleaning around your home. Dispose of food waste carefully to avoid attracting more mice, and clear out boxes and other clutter that may harbor nesting sites. Mice can get in through very small gaps, so locate and block any holes that may serve as entry points.
Finally, prepare a list of questions to ask the exterminator when they arrive. These may include things like:
- What can I do to help the extermination process between visits?
- How many visits will it take to solve the problem?
- How long will the extermination process take in total?
- Are there any health or safety hazards associated with the extermination methods, and how can I work around these?
- What can I do to prevent future reinfestations?
How To Prepare for Fumigation
Make sure you have somewhere to stay
Since your home will be full of poison, you and your family won’t be able to stay there until the exterminator tells you it’s safe.
That means you’ll need to have someplace to stay. Most families stay with family or close friends for a few days. If that’s not an option, you may have to consider staying in a hotel.
Whatever you do, make sure that you have the essentials for your stay away from home. If you have to work, consider bringing extra clothes and any equipment that you might need. If that’s not possible, consider letting your employer know that you’ll need a few days off.
Alternately, you can always plan your fumigation around your days off or perhaps on the weekend (if the pest control company works on the weekend, of course).
Arrange to have your gas turned off
Make sure that you notify the gas company that you are planning to fumigate your home. Your gas should be turned off at a certain point before fumigation. Make arrangements to also have it turned back on when it’s safe. Your exterminator will give you this information.
Additionally, before you leave the house, turn off, or better yet, unplug any electric heaters and air conditioning units. Turn off any pilot lights as well.
Leave all your interior doors open
Fumigation works best when the gas can spread throughout your home. You might be surprised by how much a closed door can limit the spread of gas through your home. Any closed doors will leave safe zones that rodents can use to escape and protect themselves, which defeats the purpose of the procedure.
It’s also important to leave any doors leading to basements, kitchens, bathrooms, and attics open. These are the rooms that are most likely to have rodent populations. Leave all cabinets, closets, and drawers open as well.
Securely seal all food and consumables
Unless you’re willing to replace your food and consumables, you’ll have to seal them in air-tight containers. Items in the fridge that aren’t stored securely (e.g. double-bagged) won’t be safe to eat when you return.
Ask your exterminator if canned goods will require extra protection beyond a thorough washing before use.
Leave your keys for the mouse exterminator
Your mice exterminator will need to have access to your home. This means they’ll need a copy of your keys to enter, leave, and secure your home during treatment.
Be sure you work with them to make a plan for the safe storage of your keys as well as for easy pick up when the fumigation is complete.
How long does mouse extermination take?
The length of time needed for mouse extermination depends on how large the infestation is. It typically takes 1-3 months and multiple visits for an exterminator to completely get rid of mice, but may take longer in cases of severe infestations.
What Chemicals Do Exterminators Use to Get Rid of Mice?
You might be wondering what chemicals are actually used when a mouse exterminator fumigates your home. So we’ll take a look at them below. This list contains the most common chemicals used in fumigation.
- Magnesium Phosphide. This chemical is often converted into a powder that, when introduced to water, produces a toxic gas.
- Aluminum Phosphide. This chemical causes the respiratory system to fail, often by filling the lungs with fluid.
- Carbon Dioxide. This chemical is often used against insects. Thanks to its mode of action, it can be equally effective against rodents. In a confined space, carbon dioxide release results in a reduction of breathable air, effectively suffocating any animals inside that space. Furthermore, it doesn’t leave any chemical residue behind.
- Methyl Bromide. This chemical is commonly used in farming. Its powerful toxin is dangerous to humans and depletes ozone. As a result, its use is now limited and it’s no longer manufactured. Thus, it’s unlikely to appear in fumigation in the future.
- Sulfuryl Fluoride. This chemical disrupts animal metabolism. It’s dangerous to humans if inhaled.
- Chloropicrin. Released as an aerosol (liquid spray), this chemical was used in World War I as a chemical agent. You can’t use it in agriculture because of the potential for food contamination.
- Phosphine. This chemical is sold as a solid that reacts with moisture in the air to produce a toxic gas that is fatal when inhaled. It’s also explosive even at low concentrations.
- Methyl Isocyanate. This chemical, formed during rubber production, is toxic to all types of life, acting on the respiratory system. Agricultural settings often use this chemical to fumigate the soil.
- 1,3-Dichloropropene. Often used in agriculture, this chemical can be toxic to people and animals if inhaled or eaten. It’s also a skin irritant. Keep in mind that its use has been limited in some areas.
- Hydrogen Cyanide. This more commonly known chemical has the unique property of boiling at room temperature. It has an almond scent that makes it easy to detect and kills by disrupting the respiratory system. It’s also an acid, which is corrosive on contact.
- Formaldehyde. This chemical affects cell growth and division, causing death in rodents.
What can we learn from all of this?
If you or someone you know has ever wondered how exterminators get rid of mice, the above guide should help clear things up.
By using a variety of repellent, obstructive, and exterminating strategies and products, mouse extermination experts will be able to remove these pests from your home. Since every exterminator is different, you should ask questions to see what they can do for you and what chemicals they’ll use in their treatment.