According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), food establishment closures have led to a decrease in food available to rodents, especially in dense commercial areas. Some areas have reported an increase in rodent activity or unusual or aggressive behavior as rodents search for new food sources. If you see an increase in rodent activity around your home, refer to the information below on eliminating and controlling rodents.
Rodent Control Program
We provide ongoing monitoring, consultation and assistance to Arlington residents and property owners interested in controlling rats or mice. The focus of our program is on prevention efforts, rather than extermination.
What We Do
We respond to individual complaints and take appropriate action to help eliminate both rodents and rodent harborage.
- Provide community education on methods to be used to reduce food sources and harborage
- Work with Code Enforcement as needed to assure compliance with Chapter 2 related to rodent harborage
- Provide information about cleanup and extermination of rodents. Extermination of rats on private property is the responsibility of property owners, with the County providing consultation and guidance upon request.
To request assistance or information on controlling rats or mice or to report rodent harborage on the exterior premise of a commercial or residential property call us at 703-228-7400.
Rats and mice are rodents that are commonly found living near people. They can be very destructive to homes and can carry germs that make people sick. They often make their nests in and around people’s homes and office buildings.
The most common rodents encountered by residents in Arlington County are the Norway rat and the house mouse. Both of these rodents are very good at jumping, climbing, swimming, gnawing and squeezing through very small spaces.
Common (Norway) Rat
The Norway rat digs and travels through burrows and will nest up to 150 feet from its food supply. It can make a nest in your home by gnawing holes in sheds and walls, etc., or squeezing through cracks and crevices in foundations, vents, etc.
The Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus, also called the brown rat or sewer rat) is a destructive pest found in urban and suburban neighborhoods. The rats eat and contaminate food, damage buildings and other property by gnawing and burrowing and may spread diseases that affect people and pets.
Recognizing Norway Rat Infestations
The presence of rats can be detected by droppings or evidence of fresh gnawing. Tracks can be seen in mud and on dusty surfaces. Runways and burrows may be found next to buildings, along fences, and under low vegetation and debris.
Norway Rat Facts
Norway rats are husky, brownish rodents that weigh about 11 ounces. They are about 13 to 18 inches long including the 6 to 8½ inch tail. Their fur is coarse and mostly brown with scattered black on the upper surfaces. The underside is typically grey to yellowish-white.
Rats will eat nearly any type of food, but they prefer high-quality foods such as meat and fresh grain. Rats require ½ -1 fluid ounce of water daily when feeding on dry food. Rats have keen taste, hearing and sense of smell. They will climb to find food or shelter,and they can gain entrance to a building through any opening larger than ½ inch across.
Rats have litters of 6 to 12 young, which are born 21 to 23 days after mating. Young rats reach reproductive maturity in about three months. Breeding is most active in spring and fall. The average female has four to six litters per year. Rats can live for up to 18 months, but most die before they are one year old. Amazingly, they love dog feces.
Fact: Rats can squeeze through spaces as small as a quarter!
The house mouse usually makes a nest in stored materials indoors, but can also live outside. Mice often become a problem in the fall when they enter homes to seek warmth. Mice tend to nest only 10 to 30 feet from their food supply.
Fact: Mice can squeeze through spaces as small as a dime!
Eliminate Rodents by Trapping or Baiting
Trapping (recommended for indoors)
Trapping is the recommended method for rodent control inside a structure. Many varieties of traps are available. Snap traps and glue boards are best used when just a few rodents are present. Catch traps for multiple rodents are best for larger numbers of rodents. All traps are more effective when peanut butter or bacon is used to lure the rodent to the trap.
Keep the trap in one place to give rodents a chance to get used to it being there. Always follow manufacturer instructions.
Baiting with Pesticide
This method of rodent control uses a food source mixed with poison. There are many types of baits. Some require repeated doses over several days before the rodent dies. Other baits kill the rodent after a single dose.
Baits must be contained in tamper-proof containers, to help protect children, pets and unintended wildlife. Baits should be placed in areas where rodents are already feeding.
Rats tend to avoid new objects and foods. Mice are not suspicious of new objects, but tend to nibble and may not eat enough to get a lethal dose. Check the bait daily and replace it as needed.
Always follow manufacturer instructions when using toxic baits or any pesticide.
Hire a Professional
You may choose to hire a licensed pest management professional, who can provide expertise in effectively and safely placing pesticides. This is recommended for eliminating large numbers of rodents (infestations).
How To Control Rodents
To control rodents, you MUST remove their food, shelter and entry points to your home or other buildings.
Clean Up – Eliminate Food Sources
Keep your trash can tightly closed
Remove all rodent food. Trash and garbage should be contained in a rodent-proof container, such as a trash can with a tight-locking lid. Trash cans and dumpsters should be cleaned regularly and their doors and/or lids should close tightly. Prevent bird seed from falling to the ground. Piles of wood, furniture and other yard debris should be removed. Grass should be cut low to the ground. Plants, bushes and branches should be trimmed away from the home or building. Pet waste should always be picked up and disposed properly.
Garbage is an all-you-can-eat buffet for rodents.
Rodent-Proof Your Home and Buildings
Holes larger than a dime, and cracks larger than the diameter of a pencil, should be sealed to prevent rodents from entering your home or other buildings. The gaps around pipe and wire chases should also be sealed. All doors, including the garage door, should have weather stripping. Tight fitting crawl space doors and vent covers should be in good repair. Check periodically around your home and other buildings to correct problem areas.
Use sealants that are strong and durable:
- Steel wool
- Copper stuffing
- Expandable foam
What Rodents Eat
- Trash and garbage in plastic bags
- Spilled or discarded food
- Kitchen scraps
- Pet food
- Pet feces
- Flower bulbs and seeds
- Bird seed spilled on the ground
- Food from low-hanging feeders