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What to Do About Rats or Mice In Your Home or Business

Image: Rat

Public Health Role

Public Health Madison & Dane County investigates reports of rat infestations and provides information and consultation to tenants/property owners/neighborhoods on how to deal with a rat problem. When necessary, the department will write orders to a property owner to correct problems that are supporting the rat population. Call (608) 242-6515 if you have questions or concerns.

Preventing and Controlling Rats/Mice Infestations

Rats and mice are not only a nuisance, but could also cause property damage and disease. Getting rid of their food and shelter is the key to keeping your home, business, and neighborhood rat/mouse free.

Get Rid of Outdoor Food Sources

  • Garbage
    • Make sure garbage cans have lids that fit tightly and are emptied regularly. Place plastic and paper bags into a covered container.
  • Compost Bin
    • Do not compost any animal products (fish, meat, poultry, cheese, butter, etc.).
    • Keep lids tight and place bins on a base so a rat cannot burrow through the bottom of a bin.
    • Keep bins as far away from your house as possible.
  • Fallen Fruit
    • Dispose of fruit and berries that have fallen on the ground.
  • Chicken Coops
    • Rat-proof your chicken coop to prevent them from living underneath, in, or within the walls of the chicken coop. Keep chicken feed in tightly sealed containers.
    • Rat Proofing Your Chicken Coop
  • Bird Feeders
    • Seed should be on poles and in trays. Don’t overfill bird feeders.
  • Pet Food
    • Do not leave pet food outside; if your pet doesn't eat it, rodents will.
  • Pet Waste
    • Pick up pet waste from the yard and dispose of in a sealed garbage can.

Take Away their Home

  • Get rid of outdoor food sources.
  • Stack fire wood 18 inches off the ground and away from all buildings to prevent rodents from nesting and hiding.
  • Cut bushes, vines and in tall grasses that provide cover.
  • Remove cars, appliances and furniture that have been put outside and are no longer being used.
  • Plug holes under buildings with steel wool.
  • Regularly clean out sheds and storage areas.
  • Keep home and property clear of trash.
  • Talk to your neighbors about controlling rats/mice on their property.
  • For more tips, visit Clean Up!, CDC.

Prevent Rats/Mice from Coming Indoors

  • Prevent rodents from entering the home by checking inside and outside your house for gaps or holes and sealing them up. Rats and mice can get into very small places. Mice can squeeze through a hole the size of a nickel, and rats can squeeze through a hole the size of a half dollar.
  • Rodents can enter your home from tree branches that hang over your roof. Keep trees and bushes cut back to prevent access.
  • For more tips, visit Seal Up!, CDC.

Protect Your Health

If you think you have rats/mice in your home take the following steps to protect your health:

  • Secure all food in sealed containers.
  • Throw away all food and drinks that may have come in contact with the rodents.
  • Cookware and cutlery should be cleaned before use.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before preparing food, eating, or drinking.
  • Wear shoes around the house and do not sleep or lie down on the floor.
  • If you are bitten by a rat or mouse, contact a physician immediately.

Killing Rats/Mice

Trapping is recommended over poisons to remove rats and mice from your home. The best trap is the large, simple, snap trap.

for the control of rats and mice because children and other animals may eat the poison and become ill, or in some cases, die. Also, poisoned rodents can die in hard to reach places causing a very bad smell. If poisons are to be used, contact a qualified pest control company.

must be first wrapped in newspaper, or placed in a plastic bag before putting the animal in the garbage. Injured or sick rodents must be killed. Try not to touch the dead rodents and use gloves if possible. Always wash your hands with hot water and soap after touching a rodent (even if you wore gloves).


Key Contacts

(608) 266-4821