Fluffy tails, big ol' ears, pleading eyes and adorable squeaks are hallmarks of many rodent species. Mice have been known to sing to one another, and who can resist that little cotton tail? While many people find bunnies, mice and packrats cute, their presence in your home indicates real threats to your family. If you want to do away with the threats without murdering the darling little creatures, here are a few tips.
What Harm Could they Possibly Do?
Rodents including ground hogs, prairie dogs, mice, rats, and rabbits have all been known to captivate human attention. They have also been known to carry serious diseases. Prairie dogs, rock squirrels, mice and rats are common carriers of plague, which is a bacterial infection spread by direct contact with an infected animal or by being bitten by one of their fleas. This disease used to run through human populations, killing many. Now effective treatments are available, but it's still an incredibly unpleasant experience. Not to mention that there are other communicable diseases carried by rodents, like leptospirosis, hantavirus, and salmonella.
On top of the health threats presented by rodent infestations, concentrated numbers of these animals can present danger to the integrity of your home. Mice and rats have been known to chew through electrical wires, destroy insulation to use for their nests, and create tunnels through walls and floors. Their droppings can create a rot hazard if they are found in high enough concentrations. If not checked, rodent infestations can destroy an entire home.
How to Avoid Inhumane Solutions
As much as you may want to, keeping these animals around your home and allowing them to be your cohabitants is a terrible idea, and they don't look so cute when there are hundreds or thousands of them running through your home. The best way to make sure you don't end up with a full on rodent plague is to act early. The moment you see evidence of one rodent in your home or garden you should set out traps. If you're looking to be the most humane, you can use live traps and relocate the animal to a more appropriate setting (no, that's not your annoying neighbor's house). Think somewhere they cannot find their way into another home.
If you're too late, and it's obvious your infestation is beyond one or two animals, it's time to get serious about extermination. Some pest control specialists can trap and relocate rodents, but most will recommend against live traps. They leave too much room for error and allow the animal to go and infest someone else. For larger scale problems, you're looking at the need for snap traps, which, while they result in the death of the animal, do not allow them to suffer.
A couple of methods to avoid if you're trying to be humane to these creatures include poison and glue traps. The poison works by thinning their blood enough that they hemorrhage to death internally, and glue traps leave them alive and terrified until you come along and have to break their tiny legs and feet to free them. Neither of these methods is considered humane, and are best avoided.
They're cute. They have complex social structures and seem to demonstrate emotional bonds. But they are still a threat to your home and your health. You have little choice but to get rid of them, although you can do it in ways that don't wreck your conscience. Trapping and relocation are options for smaller problems, but larger infestations require the help of professionals and the death of many or all of the animals. So be on the lookout and catch the problem early!
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