Humane Options for Rodent Population Control

woodratHumane Options for Rodent Population Control

Do you ever hear little feet scurrying around in your house? It can be unnerving to hear mice, raccoons, squirrels, or other critters making their homes in our walls, roofs, or ceilings. They might chew on wires and cause damage, which can be a real pain to deal with. Feces and urine left behind by animals can be smelly, damaging, and even spread disease. But are there effective, long-term solutions to controlling populations of unwanted house guests?

Some people might call in the experts, but some pest removal services can be inhumane and use techniques that hurt other animals and the environment. For example, some poisons that they use, like rodenticide, can cause internal bleeding and a slow, painful death for the animals. Plus, if other animals such as native wildlife like hawks and eagles or domestic animals like cats and dogs eat the poisoned rodents, they can suffer too. That’s not good for our pets, the environment, or us. Click here to see the effects of anticoagulant rodenticides on the internal organs of a red-tailed hawk. 

Lead is another poison that can hurt animals. Eagles and other scavengers might eat animals that have been shot with lead ammunition. No amount of lead is safe for humans or animals, and it can cause problems with our lungs, liver, kidneys, central nervous system, and brain. That’s not good for the birds, who might become listless and disoriented, and unable to fly or defend themselves. Think Wild regularly rescues and treats patients for lead poisoning at our wildlife hospital, however lead poisoning is often fatal. 

Glue traps are another inhumane way of managing rodent populations. Glue traps work by catching an animal in a sticky tray, where they slowly starve to death, or self-mutilate to free themselves.

The above methods of rodent population control are not only inhumane, they are also not effective long-term solutions to unwanted animals. When rodents and other animals are killed without addressing the cause of the infestation, new animals will fill the newly vacant habitat you’ve cleared for them! Instead of spending time and money fighting the symptoms, diagnose the actual problem instead. Are there spaces where rodents are entering your attic? Food sources too close to your house? Easily accessible nest sites under your deck? Identifying how and why you are experiencing an infestation can help you address the problem and develop long-term solutions. 

wildlife servicesAnd don’t worry! There are some safe and nontoxic ways to control rodents or keep other animals from nesting in our homes. Here are some tips from The Center for Biological Diversity and Think Wild’s Wildlife Services Program: 

  • Feed pets during the day or inside. Do not leave food out overnight – pet food is a huge attractant for wildlife.
  • Seal gaps around air vents, attics, and other openings to keep rodents out. ¼” wire mesh is very effective at keeping unwanted critters out of human structures.
  • Avoid planting plants near your home or outbuildings that can provide shelter and food for rodents and other critters. 
  • Keep compost piles, grass, and trees away from your house.
  • Use a squirrel guard at the base of bird feeders and keep the ground clean of birdseed.
  • Keep outdoor grills and cooking areas clean.
  • Keep firewood away from your house.
  • Keep pets indoors or on leashes to avoid them being injured by or causing injury to wildlife. Check outdoor areas and make noises. 
  • Make sure there is no exposed trash and use bungee cords to secure trash lids.
  • Clean up trash in garden areas to remove shelter for rodents.
  • Play a radio, use motion activated lights and sprinklers, or bang pots and pans to scare animals off.
  • Use ammonia-soaked rags to discourage nesting mammals before babies are present – they do not like the smell and will nest elsewhere. 
  • Install raptor perches and nest boxes to encourage natural predators’ presence.

If you’re not sure what to do about unwanted animals, you can contact Think Wild for a professional consultation on how to humanely exclude these animals and prevent future problems. We offer humane and safe solutions that are environmentally friendly, long-lasting, and inexpensive. You can learn more at or contact Think Wild at [email protected] .