Lifestyle

How to deal with mice, rats, and other pests

There are things you can do yourself before hiring a professional.

Check the outside of your home for holes where mice can get in, says B&B Pest Control. B&B Pest Control

“Here’s the thing with pests: They don’t discriminate,” said John Bozarjian, Jr., owner of B&B Pest Control, which has locations in South Boston and Lynn. “It’s not a knock on the way you live or how you’re keeping your house.”

The No. 1 pest complaint he gets from Boston customers? Mice.

“Most people are dealing with rodent issues,” said Bozarjian, who has been helping Bostonians rid their homes of pests for 20 years and heads educational sessions on the topic with landlords and property management companies.

He offered the following tips for ridding your house of mice and also bed bugs, another big problem in the city.

1. Survey your property inside and out.

“Rodents need food, water, shelter,” Bozarjian said. “If you block out the shelter and they have no food sources, they’re not going to stick around.”

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Walk around the outside of your home, looking for ways mice can get inside such as through a broken basement window or cracks and gaps in your foundation, he said. Then fix the windows and fill in the gaps, he said.

“Mice always start from below,” he said. “If you can protect your basement — your first floor of the home — you’re going to be in good shape.”

Also, make sure there’s no clutter up against your house and your landscaping is well tended to — grass cut, shrubs trimmed, weeds removed — Bozarjian said, or else you are giving mice (and rats) a place to hide.

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On the inside, inspect your floorboards and other areas, he said, keeping in mind that a mouse can fit through an opening the size of a dime. And don’t forget to check your doors.

“If you can see daylight under your door, then that means a mouse can get in,” he said. “That’s a general rule of thumb.”

You can easily buy and install door sweeps, which seal the gap between the bottom of your door and the threshold, he said.

2. Buy more traps than you think you need.

A common mistake people make is not buying enough traps, he said. You should buy at least a dozen, he said, because if you see one, there are probably actually 10 of them, and if you see two there are probably actually 20 of them.

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“I always say, ‘It’s better to buy too many,'” he said. “They don’t go bad.”

Bozarjian said he prefers bait traps, where the mice enter a locked box and eat poison before leaving, over glue boards and snap traps because they’re more pet and child friendly. Plus, you can kill multiple mice with them. When figuring out where to place them, head for behind the stove first, he said.

“That’s the No. 1 place we go to start,” he said.

Mice love the area around the stove because of the heat, and usually crumbs are nearby, he said, adding that you should also place traps in your pantry, behind the sink, and in your basement.

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“Keep the traps along the walls because the mice kind of hug the walls when they run around,” Bozarjian said.

Make sure you always clean up any mouse droppings you find, he said. Fresh droppings mean there are still mice in the house.

If, after placing a generous amount of traps around, you’re still seeing droppings after two to three weeks, you should call a professional, he said. A professional service will cost you anywhere from $250 to $300 in the city, he said.

3. Cover dry pet food.

If you have a pet, you may be inadvertently feeding the mice, Bozarjian said. This is a “huge problem” he sees in homes with mice, Bozarjian said.

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“You want to make sure, at the end of the night or when you go to work, it’s contained,” he said. “When you leave that dry pet food out, mice come and gather and store it. You’ve given them a big food source they can ration and live off for a while.”

He recommended covering your pet’s food regularly to keep the rodents out.

“Once your pet has eaten for the night, wrap it up and contain it,” he said.

4. Join forces with your neighbors.

If you live in multi-unit building, it’s worth working together with your neighbors, Bozarjian said.

“We’ve always seen success when neighbors band together,” he said.

You have better chances of ridding your building of rodents when the entire structure is treated and not just a portion of it, he said. As a bonus, it could save you money, he said.

“It’s very cost-effective if you do all the units,” he said. “If they all pitch together, they can save about 25 to 50 percent, sometimes, what they would pay if they just did it themselves.”

5. Take steps to avoid bed bugs.

Bed bugs are another “big-time problem” in the city, Bozarjian said.

Bozarjian stressed avoiding Allston Christmas because of the bed bug risk.

“Don’t take anything off the street,” he said. “If something is on the street, especially if it’s a bed or a couch, it’s out there for a reason. I would never touch it. That’s one way to bring them in.”

When traveling, don’t place your suitcase beside the bed because bed bugs could potentially hide in the seams of your luggage and travel home with you, he said. And, when you do get home, inspect your suitcase and place its belongings in the dryer on high heat, he said.

You can buy ClimbUp or Blackout bed bug detectors that are comprised of saucers placed under the legs of your bed, which catch and trap the bugs, Bozarjian said.

“I would highly suggest people who are living with multiple roommates get the ClimbUps,” he said.