The Best Rodent Control Methods: Natural vs. ChemicalReading time: 8 minutes
Mice and rats may be furry or cute, but they are also a nuisance that can pose a significant health hazard to you and your family. Coming into contact with rodents or their saliva or excrement could make you, your children, and your pets very sick.
As a homeowner, you want to keep these rodents away from your property – inside and out. So, stopping these pesky invaders is important before becoming a serious problem. Below, we’ve created a guide to walk you through the different kinds of rodent control methods and help you understand which options a professional service will recommend.
Why Rodent Control Matters
According to Health Canada and health organizations worldwide, rodents are carriers of severe and even deadly diseases like salmonella, hantavirus, monkeypox, hemorrhagic fever, leptospirosis, and typhus.
Most of these pathogens are spread via rodent urine and feces when people touch surfaces that rat and mouse excrement has also touched, but they can also be directly transmitted when handling a rodent or being bitten by one. Even handling dead rodents can spread disease.
Rodents also cause extensive property damage with extensive repair costs. They can burrow through your walls, weakening the interior structure and potentially causing permanent damage. Keeping rodents at bay is crucial for your health and the integrity of your home or business. Rodents breed quickly, which means that immediate action is essential.
What To Consider When Choosing A Rodent Control Method
There are several things to think about when looking at different rodent control methods, like:
- Are you preventing rodents or dealing with an infestation?
- Do you have rats or mice?
- If there’s an infestation, how severe is it?
- Do you have pets or children?
- Is anyone in your home is immunocompromised?
- How will you dispose of rodents and traps?
- What’s your overall budget?
Depending on your needs, you may be considering natural rodent control methods, chemical ones, or a combination of both. A qualified rodent exterminator can help you determine which strategies are the most likely to be successful while avoiding harm to ecosystems, your property, and your family.
Natural vs Chemical Rodent Control Compared
Below, you’ll find a breakdown of natural and chemical rodent control techniques to help you understand what each entails and what we recommend at Buzz Boss.
Natural Rodent Control Methods
There are many natural ways to get rid of mice and rats, including:
- Exclusion – Sealing cracks and holes in your foundation is an easy way to keep rodents from finding a way in and a key step for long-term rodent control.
- Prevention – Keeping your property clean and free from clutter is one of the most effective forms of rodent control. Rats and mice depend heavily on a food source. If one is unavailable, they usually won’t set up camp.
- Natural repellants – The smell of some plants, including mint, eucalyptus, and wormwood, deters rodents. Planting these around the perimeter of your home is an easy and natural way to make your property unattractive to rats and mice.
- Traps and barriers – Mouse traps are a popular way to get rid of mice already in your space. There are different styles of traps, some of which kill the rodent and others that only trap it for later release. Wire mesh can be used over openings that must be exposed to the outside so rodents can’t get in.
- Biological control agents – This strategy uses predatory animals, pathogens, and other biological agents to alter habitat to discourage rodent nesting or eliminate rodent populations. For example, owls are natural predators of rodents. Building barn owl habitats on your property can encourage the increase of owls in your area, reducing the number of rodents.
A pest control professional can go over the benefits and potential drawbacks of various natural rodent control methods so you can create a customized elimination and prevention strategy that works.
Chemical Rodent Control Methods
Sometimes, chemical rodent control is considered to eliminate severe infestations. This is often the case when rodents violate building codes, destroy crops, and pose a human health risk. Using these chemicals should always be done with the assistance of a trained and certified professional.
Types of Rodenticides
A rodenticide is explicitly designed to cause death in rodents, usually by consuming them. Some of the common types of rodenticides you’ll see include:
- Zinc phosphide – a single-dose rodenticide that produces phosphine gas upon contact with stomach acid, damaging the brain, kidneys, heart, and liver.
- Cholecalciferol – a multi-dose rodenticide that results in the toxic buildup of calcium in the bloodstream.
- Strychnine – a single-dose rodenticide approved for use in the ground only and causes fatal muscle spasms.
- Bromethalin – a single-dose rodenticide that interrupts energy production by cells within the central nervous system.
These rodenticides typically fall into first and second generation anticoagulant categories, which indicates how long they’ve been around and their potency. Some of these substances are now illegal in Canada, with 2023 extending some restrictions in British Columbia’s laws surrounding the sale and use of the chemicals.
Buzz Boss follows IPM tactics and generally does not advocate using rodenticides in pest control for the mice, rats, voles, and other rodents you may find on your property.
Effectiveness, Risks, and Precautions
Rodenticides are highly effective at removing rodent populations, but they do little for prevention. Most of the time, chemical rodent control methods are augmented by natural rodent control tactics like exclusion to eliminate a rodent infestation and keep them from returning.
That said, there are some risks when using rodenticides like the above in your home or elsewhere on your property, such as:
- Rodenticides are incredibly toxic to humans and animals. If a pet or a child comes into contact with it, they’re likely to become ill and even die.
- It takes time for rodenticides to work – at least 3 to 4 days or even longer than a week.
- If another animal eats the rodent during the period after the rodent ingests the poison, but before it dies, it will also be poisoned.
You can take several precautions, such as putting bait out of reach of children and pets, keeping rodenticides locked in a cabinet or outside in a shed, and never storing baited traps or containers of rodenticide near foodstuffs, including your pet’s food. These are not 100% guaranteed, so we recommend never keeping these dangerous chemicals away from your home.
Why Professional Application is Crucial
Rodenticides are in a class of compounds known as anticoagulants, meaning they prevent blood from clotting. When ingested by humans, these compounds can cause severe bleeding, seizures, difficulty breathing, and other severe health effects.
It’s essential that anyone applying rodenticide is wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and that the compounds are handled with care according to industry standards. This can be difficult, if not impossible, for the average layperson. Different types of rodenticides need to be applied in other ways, too, and misapplication could cause severe illness or even death.
Additionally, professionals undergo significant training and understand rodenticide legal requirements and limitations. So, a professional can judge if a situation calls for these powerful chemicals and suggest better, more eco-friendly solutions instead.
Pros & Cons Of Natural vs. Chemical Rodent Control
If you’re facing a rodent infestation and unsure of the best path forward, comparing and contrasting these methods is worthwhile. You can consider that:
- Natural methods of eliminating rat and mouse infestations are usually healthier than rodenticides for people and the planet.
- Mice can’t develop a tolerance to natural rodent control methods such as exclusion or trapping like they can rodenticides.
- In some cases, natural methods aren’t as effective as chemical rodent control, especially for severe rat or mouse infestations.
- Rodenticides can leach into groundwater, affecting water in your home for drinking, bathing, and washing.
- Most rodents don’t die immediately upon ingesting rodenticide – it can take 3 to 10 days, when they may nest in your walls where they cannot be retrieved.
- Snap traps can go off unexpectedly and can potentially harm children and pets who may accidentally come into contact with them.
- Pets and wild animals can be attracted to poisonous rodent bait. Should they consume these harmful chemicals, they could die.
- Rodenticides are typically considered inhumane and cruel since they are slow and painful ways to kill animals.
How to Choose the Right Type of Treatment
Deciding which type of treatment is best for your specific needs is a question best left to a pest control professional. The most effective rodent control methods will depend on several things, like how large the infestation is, where the rodents are coming from, and the age, type, and layout of your house.
A rodent exterminator can assess your property and create a customized treatment plan designed to effectively eliminate your rat or mouse infestation as quickly as possible. They also better understand rodent nature and behaviour and can recommend the most practical combination of treatments for your type and size of rodent infestation.
The best thing you can do is choose a professional team that has been in the industry for many years, so they know the different types of treatments available and have developed proven methods for dealing with rodents that don’t include dangerous chemicals.
Contact the Professional Rodent Exterminators At Buzz Boss Today
At Buzz Boss, we know pest control. If you’re dealing with a rodent infestation or want to prevent one, our team of rodent control experts can help.
Contact us today to learn more about our integrated pest management techniques and how we protect your home with environmentally friendly pest control methods.