- Secure Pesticides and Chemicals during Poison Prevention Week
- Regulating Rodenticides
- Pest Control Devices
- Pesticide Health and Safety
- Pesticides and Public Health
- List of Public Health Pests (PRN 2002-1) (PDF) (32 pp, 347k, about PDF)
- Questions on pesticides?
National Pesticide Information Center
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People can successfully control rodents through a variety of means. This page provides information about preventing, identifying, and treating rodent infestations. It also addresses regulation of rodent-control products and safe pesticide use.
Why be concerned: Each year, rodents cause significant damage to property and food supplies across the United States. In addition to damaging property, rodents may also spread diseases, posing a serious risk to public health. Rodent-borne diseases can be transferred directly to humans through bite wounds or consumption of contaminated food and/or water, or indirectly by way of ticks, mites, and fleas that transmit the infection to humans after feeding on infected rodents.
What YOU can do: There are many things that you can do to prevent or treat rodent problems, even without the use of chemical rodenticides. Learn more about rodent control, and safe use and regulation of rodenticides.
- Educational Video: "Infestations Vacations"
- Prevent Rodent Infestations
- Identify Rodent Infestations
- Treat Rodent Infestations
- Safely Use Rodent Control Products
- Tips for Hiring a Rodent Control Professional
- Regulating Rodent Control Products
- Who Is Involved in Rodent Control?
- In Case of an Emergency…
- For More Information
Credits: Howard University's CapComm Lab, Earth Conservation Corps, and EPA
This short video, produced by Howard University's CapComm Lab, the Earth Conservation Corps, and EPA, takes a humorous look at how conditions inside the home can provide food, water, and shelter where pests can thrive, and provides practical ways to prevent infestations.
This video is also offered in alternate formats for downloading and viewing:
NOTE: Download times for the videos may vary depending on the speed of your Web connection and other factors.
- Infestations Vacations in mov format (Quicktime Player, 1:13 min, 265MB)
- Infestations Vacations in flv format (Flash FLV Player, 1:13 min, 4.2MB)
- Infestations Vacations on YouTube website
- MOV - clips play on the QuickTime Player which is available for free at: QuickTime Player.
- FLV - clips play on the Flash FLV Player which is available for free at: Flash FLV Player
To discourage rodent infestations and avoid contact with rodents, remove the food sources, water, and items that provide them shelter.
- Seal holes inside and outside the home to prevent entry by rodents. This may be as simple as inserting steel wool in small holes, or patching holes in inside or outside walls.
- Trap rodents outside the home to help reduce the rodent population within.
- Clean up potential rodent food sources and nesting sites.
- More prevention tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
If preventive measures alone do not work, control of a rodent infestation will rely on identifying the problem's source in order to choose an appropriate treatment method. Unless an infestation is severe, you may never physically see a mouse or rat. Some signs of rodent infestation may include:
- rodent droppings around food packages, in drawers or cupboards, and/or under the sink;
- nesting material such as shredded paper, fabric, or dried plant matter;
- evidence of gnawing and chewing on food packaging or structures;
- evidence of damaged structures providing entry points into the home; and
- stale smells coming from hidden areas.
To remove rodents, you will need to use traps or rodenticide baits in tamper resistant bait stations.
- Lethal traps - such as snap traps, are designed to trap and kill rodents.
- Live traps - such as cage-type traps, capture rodents alive and unharmed, but the rodents must then be released or killed. Unless you have sealed the entry points into the house, live rodents released outside may find their way back into the house.
Rodenticides are poisons intended to kill rodents. To protect children, pets and wildlife, use only rodenticides sold with tamper resistant bait stations. Rodenticides for consumer use include:
- Baits - rodenticide poisons are combined with palatable material to attract rodents. Rodents die after consuming the chemical contained in the bait.
- Bait products for consumer use must be sold and used with tamper resistant bait stations that prevent access by children, pets and wildlife.
- Bait forms that cannot be secured in bait stations, such as pellets or powders, are prohibited
- To protect wildlife, consumer-use rodenticide bait products must not contain the second generation anticoagulants (brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum, and difethialone) as active ingredients.
To safely treat rodent infestations:
- Always place traps and baits in places where children and pets cannot reach them.
- Always use rodenticide baits in tamper resistant bait stations.
- Use all products according to label directions and precautions.
- Be sure to select traps and bait products that are appropriate to the type and size of rodent (i.e., mouse vs. rat).
Rodent control products, if misused, can potentially poison or otherwise harm you, your children, or your pets. For this reason, it is important to read the product label and follow all directions when using a rodenticide or any other pest control product.
To protect children, pets and wildlife, rodenticide products for consumer use must be sold with and used in tamper resistant bait stations. Bait forms that cannot be secured in bait stations, such as pellets or powders, are prohibited.
EPA requires all pesticide labels to list important use instructions and precautions to ensure that pesticides and pest control devices are used safely and effectively, and to prevent harmful exposure. You must always read and understand all label information before using any pest control product. EPA also recommends that you store pesticides and pest control devices away from children and pets, in a locked utility cabinet or garden shed. Any traps or baits should also be set in locations where children or pets cannot access them.
EPA, along with CDC and many rodent control professionals, believes that preventing pest problems is the most effective way to control rodent populations. Relying on preventive measures (e.g., cleaning up food and water sources and sealing entry points) and reduced-risk treatment methods (e.g., trapping) can reduce the reliance on, and therefore the corresponding risk from, the use of chemical rodenticides. This combination of approaches is generally known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
If you have a rodent issue that you are uncomfortable dealing with yourself, you may wish to hire a rodent control professional.
- Choose a pest control company carefully. Firms offering pest control services must be licensed by your state. Ask to see the company’s license and, if you have any concerns, call your state pesticide regulatory agency.
- EPA’s Citizen’s Guide to Pest Control and Pesticide Safety (PDF) (54 pp, 2.37M, about PDF) offers more tips on how to choose a pest control company.
- For additional assistance and tips on locating and hiring a pest control professional in your area, contact:
EPA regulates rodent control products, ensuring that they can be used effectively without posing unreasonable risks to people or the environment. EPA also works with CDC and various other federal, state, and local institutions to provide information and tools to the public for controlling rodents and the risks they may pose.
EPA’s pesticide registration and reevaluation processes are designed to ensure that rodenticides used according to label directions and precautions can help control rodent populations without posing unreasonable risks to people or the environment.
In January 2013, to prevent avoidable risks to children, pets and wildlife from accidental exposures, EPA initiated action to cancel and remove from the consumer market 12 D-Con brand rodenticide products produced by Reckitt Benckiser, Inc. This company has refused to adopt the agency’s risk mitigation measures for consumer use rodenticide products, as set forth in our 2008 Risk Mitigation Decision for Ten Rodenticides. Without these important safety measures, the 12 D-Con products fail to meet the standard for registration and cause unreasonable adverse effects on human health and the environment. See Cancellation Process for 12 D-Con Mouse and Rat Poison Products.
Over 30 consumer-use rodenticide products meet EPA’s protective standards. These products are effective for use against household rodents, and reduce accidental exposures to children, pets and wildlife. See a list of these new, more protective bait station products.
In addition to its regulatory role, EPA works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and various other state and local agencies on outreach to the public about rodent control and the risks rodents may pose.
CDC protects health by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability, working closely with state and local health departments to provide public information. They are a rich source for information regarding rodent management. CDC also has a fact sheet for rodent control in disaster settings (PDF) (3 pp, 109K, about PDF) .
While pest management begins with individuals, effective control is often community or locally based. Each state and locality has a unique system for pest management, including the prevention and treatment of rodents. To see what your state is doing to treat and prevent rodents, visit your state’s Department of Health Web site.
In case of an emergency involving a pesticide product, you should contact:
- Your local emergency responder or fire department;
- The National Poisoning Hotline at 1-800-222-1222; or
- The National Pesticide Information Center at 1-800-858-7378.
Also have available the EPA registration number of the product involved. This number can be found on the product label.
- What EPA is doing in your region of the country
- Regulations governing pesticide use in your state
- National Pest Management Association