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Controlling Rodents

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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.

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Educational Video: "Infestations Vacations"

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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.

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Prevent Rodent Infestations

To discourage rodent infestations and avoid contact with rodents, remove the food sources, water, and items that provide them shelter.

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Identify Rodent Infestations

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:

Pictures of and information about rodents commonly found in the United States are available through CDC and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) Exit EPA disclaimer.

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Treat Rodent Infestations

To remove rodents, you will need to use traps or rodenticide baits in tamper resistant bait stations.

Traps include:

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:

To safely treat rodent infestations:

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Safely Use Rodent Control Products

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).

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Tips for Hiring a Rodent Control Professional

If you have a rodent issue that you are uncomfortable dealing with yourself, you may wish to hire a rodent control professional.

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Regulating Rodent Control Products

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.

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Who Is Involved in Rodent Control?

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. Exit EPA disclaimer

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In Case of an Emergency.

In case of an emergency involving a pesticide product, you should contact:

Also have available the EPA registration number of the product involved.  This number can be found on the product label.

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