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Rodent Control in Apartments and Multi-Family Housing

By Thorn Team • Sep 15th 2022

If you own or manage an apartment building or other multi-family dwelling, you likely know that rats and mice are one of the more difficult

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Pest issues to fix when it comes to apartment maintenance. Rodents present some tough challenges, especially in an environment that can provide them with everything they need to survive and thrive.

A thriving rodent population isn't exactly something you'd want to advertise to your tenants. They create filth and can spread disease. Rodents, however, don't care about your reputation. They care about getting fed and keeping warm!

How do you keep rodents away from your apartment building or multi-family dwelling, and what should you do if they've already made their way inside?

Rodents in Apartment Buildings

Rats are mice are commensal, meaning they prefer to live among humans, especially inside our buildings and structures. They depend on us to provide them with their needs, including food and harborage. Rodents are also highly adaptable, meaning they can learn to make the best of many different conditions and environments.

To keep mice out of homes and buildings, it is necessary to utilize multiple control methods, including:

  • Habitat and harborage modification
  • Exclusion
  • Chemical and mechanical controls

When rats or mice show up inside, it's easy to assume they used an open door or window, but that may not be the case. It can happen, but it's essential to investigate before jumping to conclusions. Only a thorough inspection will give you the answers you're looking for.

How to Keep Rodents Away From Your Apartment Building

Because of their design, apartment buildings present some of the most complex rodent issues. Pipes and cables running through the building can quickly be turned into rodent superhighways, allowing mice and rats to run between units easily while staying hidden.

Couple this with overgrown vegetation and the potential sanitation issues around apartment buildings, and you have the perfect recipe for an ongoing rodent infestation.

Luckily, approaching pest control through Integrated Pest Management (IPM) means using a systematic approach to resolving rodent problems in apartment buildings. It may take time, effort, and patience, but ongoing rodent control is possible when you use the right tools and strategies.

Maintain a Healthy Urban Eco-System

Many believe that chemical controls (poisons and sprays) and mechanical controls (traps and bait stations) are necessary for an effective pest control program. While many pest control programs utilize these tools, these methods will not work adequately if other conditions are not addressed first.

If you have a rodent issue in a multi-family housing scenario, start by inspecting the outside of the building. Dense vegetation is very appealing to rodents. If your building has lots of ivy, heavy vining plants, or thick ground cover, this could invite rodents to hang out against your building.

Work with your landscaping or maintenance crew to address areas of thick plant growth around your apartment building, and prioritize maintaining this work moving forward.

Also, look at your dumpster area. This area of your complex will appeal to rodents, who are very sensitive to smells and constantly seek new food sources. If the garbage is not contained in the dumpster or rodents have managed to chew their way into the garbage receptacles, this is likely part of your issue.

Develop a plan to keep the garbage area of your apartment complex or multi-family home tidy and organized, and ensure you have the understanding and cooperation of your tenants to avoid future problems.

Exclusion: Seal the Building Up

If you're feeling discouraged because of a rodent issue in your apartment building, don't fret! Huge improvements can be made by properly sealing the structure.

Unexpected gaps and holes around the building are where many interior rodent issues begin, and this should be addressed before poisons or baits are used. If the building is not sealed, poisoned rodents could climb inside the walls and die, creating other issues for your tenants (like nasty smells).

As rodents run around the exterior of your apartment building, they will feel warm air coming from even the smallest of gaps. Rats and mice are always in pursuit of food, water, and shelter. They are very sensitive to warmth, smells, and airflow.

If gaps and holes are left open, rodents can squeeze into them or chew them out to make access points.

Mice are small enough to fit through holes and gaps just � inch (6mm) in diameter, and rats can squeeze through spaces as small as a quarter.

Consider arming your maintenance workers with a Frye Inspection Tool (F.I.T.). This tool is designed to help identify gaps and spaces rodents can fit through, as well as aid in identifying rodent droppings if they are found around the property.

Frye Inspection tools have many uses. To use a Frye Inspection tool to measure gaps under the door, simply shove the device under the door. Does it fit? Then so could a rodent! We'll have more on this tool and building repair and maintenance tips below.

SOME QUICK ADVICE FROM THORN: When it comes to rodent exclusion, spray foam is NOT your friend! Spray foam creates messes, breaks down, and isn't rodent-proof. Consider using a steel excluder, wire mesh, or high-quality door sweeps depending on the situation.

Chemical and Mechanical Controls

Mechanical controls would include devices like traps. Traps can significantly reduce a rodent population if used along with proper inspection, identification, and sealing of the building. Still, if the re>wrong traps are used or the building isn't sealed, this could create more stress and problems for you, your staff, and your tenants.

In short? Make sure you know what rodent pest is present and how to place traps before you use them!

Chemical control measures such as rodent poisons and baits should never be the first step if a rodent issue pops up in your apartment building. Not only can rodent poisons cause other problems (like dead rodents decomposing in the walls and ceilings), but bait should be used minimally and safely, ensuring that no children, neighborhood pets, or wildlife will be able to access them.

When you receive a complaint about rodents, start with inspecting the property. Look for any conditions that could be creating the rodent issue. If your apartment building is in Utah and you need professional help with inspection and remediation, Thorn Pest Solutions is on the job! Our pest specialists will come out to investigate, identify what's causing your rat or mouse issue, and help formulate a science-based plan specific to your property.

What Kills Rats or Mice Immediately?

This is a common question from customers and internet researchers alike.

When rats and mice invade your spaces, it feels violating, and you want them gone as soon as possible. But pest control isn't always that simple.

While poisons may instantly kill some rodents around your apartments, they could also kill neighborhood pets and wildlife. Poisons also won't solve the underlying rodent issues present.

If you're at a point where you feel the need to use rodent poisons or baits, it might be time to seek consultation from a pest specialist first. The last thing you want to do is turn a rodent problem into a neighborhood poisoning issue.

6 Apartment Maintenance Tips for Rodent Control

At Thorn Pest Solutions, we enjoy and prioritize providing educational resources for pest professionals and customers. Whether heading the Utah Pest Management Association (UPMA) or writing the book on commercial pest control, we're here to help make pest control more effective and less stressful for everyone.

If you own or manage an apartment building, you already know that your maintenance staff is one of your key defenses when combating pest issues. Make sure they know how to address those issues adequately!

Here are some tips to give maintenance staff the tools they need to address rodents around your apartment building:

#1. Trim Back Vegetation

Do your best to identify areas of dense vegetation around the apartment building. Trim the plants back and away from the side of the structure to reduce rodent hiding spots.

If rodents can hang out against the building, they may find holes or gaps where delicious smells and warm air are leaving the building, and things could quickly progress from an exterior issue to an interior one.

#2. Have a Plan for the Dumpster Area

Look at the dumpster area and understand that this area is highly attractive to rodents. Rodents do not have high standards when it comes to food sources. One man's trash is a rodent's 7-course buffet!

Rodents can smell at PPM (parts per million). Their sensitive noses will quickly signal them to check out your garbage area, and access will be much easier for them if garbage bags are left on the ground instead of placed in the cans or dumpster.

Not only should maintenance regularly check to ensure that the dumpster areas are in good order, but tenants will also need to understand the importance of keeping the trash area tidy. After all, rodents by the dumpster could make their way inside.

#3. Keep an Eye on the Doors

Doors, thresholds, doorsteps, and door sweeps must be maintained to keep rodents from entering. Take the following steps:

  1. Stand inside with the door closed and inspect the door all around the edge and frame, looking for spots where light is getting through.
  2. Be prepared to squat or get down on your hands and knees. You won't be able to see entry points along the bottom of the door from standing.
  3. Measure the space under the door using a Frye Inspection Tool or another measuring device.
  4. If gaps are confirmed, hire someone to repair the door or perform the repairs yourself.

Remember that repairing a door sweep is not as simple as installing rubber weatherstripping from the hardware store. Rodents can chew through rubber in seconds, so you'll need to look into a rubber-encased steel fabric door sweep if you're serious about keeping rodents out.

While these sweeps are more expensive, they are worth the investment. They will save your maintenance crew time and energy because they do not require repeated replacing and do a far better job keeping rodents outside where they belong.

#4. Focus on the Ground Floor

Resolving rodent issues around an apartment building requires a ground-floor focus. Prioritize the first floor (ground floor), the basement, and any units experiencing rodent activity. This will help pinpoint the source of your problem more quickly.

#5. Find Where Utility Lines Enter the Building>

Rodents can find inside access anywhere utility lines enter the building, so make sure these spots are adequately sealed.

This includes areas under sinks, behind cabinets, in laundry rooms, and in boiler rooms. Ensure that escutcheon plates under sinks are pushed tightly against the wall and sealed in place with silicon caulk.

This step can feel overwhelming, but don't feel the need to do it perfectly. Just start somewhere. Sealing the building may take time and patience, but getting started will only benefit your rodent control efforts.

#6. Have the Right Tools and Knowledge

Spray foam is not the answer to sealing rodent entry points. Rodents can chew through spray foam like popcorn, so opt for something more effective.

Consider using a steel excluder (like this) to pack holes and gaps. Wear work gloves and pack the hole tightly. Ensure the excluder is level with the wall's surface without poking out.

You could also consider sealing larger holes with steel mesh screwed in place or using a specialty caulking like RodentStop, which is reinforced with metal fibers.

Apartment Rodent Control in Utah>

Need more info about apartment rodent control? Whether you're located in Utah or not, Thorn's here to help.

If your Utah apartment building needs professional rodent control, we specialize in commercial pest control services for our fellow Utahns. Let's take care of your apartment building as soon as possible so your tenants can return to rodent-free living!

About Thorn

Thorn is a Utah local pest management company. We are a QualityPro certified company which is a prestigious accreditation awarded too less than 3% of the pest management companies in the US.

Contact Us Today

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About Thorn

Thorn is a Utah local pest management company. We are a QualityPro certified company which is a prestigious accreditation awarded too less than 3% of the pest management companies in the US.

Contact Us Today