One Sunday, some weeks ago, I had to cook rice for lunch, for the family. Because it was parboiled, I decided to measure a few cups straight into a pot of boiling water. I noticed a few black spots while pouring in the rice. I thought it might be some bad grains, and that I would pick them out when washing the rice after the first cooking.
After about thirty minutes, I poured the rice into a strainer to wash. What did I see? Lots and lots of black particles, more than a hundred, I’m sure. Little and cylindrical-shaped — the shape of rat faeces. I rushed into the store, to where the sack of rice lay. I guess I hadn’t sealed it properly last time, and I noticed the rats had eaten holes into the corners. I never knew rats ate raw rice, then I realised that they actually eat anything. I looked at my pot of rice, and knew that it had to go into the dustbin. Fast. I didn’t know what to do with the bag of rice yet. Thank God it was one of those smaller bags; I might have had a fit.
The presence of domestic rats and mice are a bane in most households. They cause us loss of food, provisions, personal and household properties, and sickness and diseases — notable of which is the dreaded and fatal Lassa Fever. Many don’t know how to effectively combat these illegal tenants. Some methods have been tested and tried but the results are not as thorough as we want them to be.
Here are a few valuable tips on how to get these little monsters out of the way, and have the peace and security that you and your family are the only ones living in your house.
1. Plug every leak
Why most of our elimination techniques have been ineffective is because we don’t tackle the source. If you kill the ones that have found a way in, the rest would come in, still, through the same leak. The first question to ask is: where are they coming from? These little animals did not just appear in your house. They may be coming from the drainage or sewage, holes in the walls created for electrical wiring, cracks in doors and windows, the dustbin area, holes in the roofing. I found out my little visitors came in from two places: a hole created in the wall to let wires for the air conditioner in, and a hole in the sewage pipe casing in my bathroom. Find that leak; and fix it.
2. Do your dishes every night
As long as there’s something exposed for the rodents to eat, they will gladly eat. Don’t leave your dirty dishes overnight, or leave your kitchen counter littered with food particles. You’ll just be setting a late night banquet for rats and mice to feast on when you are fast asleep. Make a rule in your house: dirty dishes must be washed every night before everybody retires for the night. And ensure everyone keeps that rule.
3. Take the trash out at the end of every day
Rodents live for garbage. A rich trash bag filled with an assorted mix of different kinds of food is a treat in disguise. As long as your dustbin is filled with juicy food particles and, worse, left overnight in your kitchen, you’ve unwittingly left behind dinner for them to eat. At the end of each day your dustbin should be emptied, especially when you’ve disposed highly perishable food in them. Most communities have a big trash can outside where residents can empty their garbage. Line your dustbin with a plastic trash bag and close the lid tightly shut when not in use. At the end of the day, tie up the bag, and dispose.
4. Store your consumables in air-tight containers
I had to learn the hard way. After my bag of rice was infested, I had to pour everything into an airtight plastic container. No problems since. You may, also, need to store food in plastic sachets and cartons in airtight boxes. I had a juice-loving rodent in my home. After cartons and cartons of Chivita were punctured and sachets of Milo compromised, we had to store provisions in a large cooler. Tip: To make your kitchen store even more attractive, buy matching containers and label them neatly with the contents within: write out labels like BEANS, RICE, GARRI, FLOUR etc.
5. Use trapping mechanisms
I’m no fan of those mechanical traps made with wood and/or metal. The kinds you have to bait with an attractive meal, the kinds that click to trap the rats that encroach upon them. I’ve known them for as long as I can remember and I think rodents have developed some intelligence to dodge those traps, even while consuming the bait! I also don’t like rat poison. Some rat eats poisoned food and goes to die in an unreachable place and leaves a terrible odour around the house, sending you on a dead-mouse hunt. These trapping methods still work in most cases, however I believe in mouse glue boards. A pack opens like a book to reveal odourless, colourless glue that traps rats effectively. You may still bait it, as well, with food that has an attractive-than-normal aroma, like fish. Whatever works for you, after plugging the holes, use something to trap the rodents already running about the house.
6. Clear your surroundings regularly
Rats love to hide in stuffy places. Garages full of used materials, surroundings with overgrown grasses, and even pantries and stores over loaded with provisions. Clean out your store, cut down the grasses around the house, keep the outdoor garbage bin tightly shut. If everywhere is clean and clear, and dirt-free, there’d be no hiding place for these pests.
7. When all fails, call pest control
When you’ve done everything and you’re still plagued by rats and mice, it may be time for pest control. You will have to call a capable company to have your house fumigated. These people must be experts in eliminating rodents. What they do is to professionally find and seal all holes, and then use some poison or gaseous pesticides to eliminate the rats.
Don’t take it lightly if you spot just one rat in your home. Act fast, and save yourself from discomfort and health hazards.