Pest Control Treatments For Rats And Mice In Australia

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Rats and mice in Australia are considered to be the primary pest. Rats and mice feed on almost anything, but they prefer cereal foods such as wheat, rice, corn, oats and seeds. Rats will eat meat when other food is not available to them. Mice will eat cheese when it’s available. They also consume yard waste such as leaves, bark and grass.

Rats and mice can damage water tanks, seedlings in gardens, drip irrigation systems, machinery in factories and storage warehouses, food stock (live/dead), commercial crops (esp. seedlings), insulation (wool) etc., electrical wiring, timber structures. In addition, they carry diseases that affect humans and livestock.

Rats are about the same size as a cat. They weigh approximately 0.5 kg (0.25-1.1 lbs) and can be almost any colour, but dark brown or black is the most common. They may have long or short hair, rough or smooth coats, coarse or sleek fur, large ears; pointed noses, etc. They live in sewers, creeks, rivers and other waterways; bushes; trees; gardens; attics of buildings etc.

Mice vary in size (length) depending on the species. Mouse colour varies from white to grey to brown, with the most common being a light grey with black or brown spots. Their hair is usually short, fine glossy and brownish-black in colour. They can be found living in sheds, under floors; in walls etc.


There are many methods of rodent pest control available to the householder, farmer or business. However, each of these methods must be used correctly for them to be effective. The rodents will quickly become re-infested (in many cases in more significant numbers and with increased vigour).

Some of the most common methods are listed below with their advantages/disadvantages. Remember that choosing a technique or combination is influenced mainly by what rodent species is present (rats vs mice), which area is to be treated (outdoors or indoors), what the target is (preventing the spread of disease) and how much time, money and effort is available.

Live trapping is an effective way to remove rats and mice from an area, but it does require certain conditions to be successful:

The environmental conditions must be suitable for the rodent so that it can feed, gain energy, and reproduce. Once populations are low, this will not pose a problem.

The correct type of trap must be used for the rodent species being targeted. For example, mice can squeeze through much smaller holes in live traps than rats, so choose accordingly – although both rodents have been known to escape from traps when they’re not fully conscious.

A suitable location for trapping must be selected. If the traps are not checked frequently, rodents can die in them before they can be removed, allowing their bodies to rot and cause odour problems, or a trapped rodent can attract new rodents into an area that’s being treated. This will increase the total number of rodents that need to be removed from the site.

These traps are commonly used for mice or rats. They often have a small hole in the middle of them that allows them to be placed flush against a wall, with a snap door at one end and a tray on the other for bait and collection of rodents as they’re caught.

They are cheap to buy and easy to use. Their main disadvantages are that they don’t allow for live capture of rodents, will rarely kill a rodent directly, require frequent checking if the rodent is to be collected alive, must be physically checked due to the high probability of failure to kill the rodent before it dies in the trap (see above), can snap fingers and hands, and cannot be utilised in areas that allow rodents to see them easily. Metal or plastic mouse glue traps have been banned from sale or use throughout the European Union since 2009 as they’re considered cruel to animals. However, they are still legal for sale and use in Australia as of 2015.

Rodent snap traps can be made at home using little expense but should be handled with care as the spring is very powerful and can easily injure fingers. Also, be aware that snap traps are ineffective against mice due to their small size see separate articles on homemade mouse traps for more information.

A variant of the wooden snap trap is the ‘door trap’. This has a spring-loaded door on one side, which, when triggered, releases the pest from the trap to be either killed with a separate device or released outside. They can capture a pest alive and allow you to dispose of it somewhere less appropriate in an ecological manner, but they do pose a risk of catching non-target species such as birds or lizards that might enter the trap. For this reason, they should not be used in areas where pets or children are present.

Insecticides can be used to kill pest rodents by fumigation, aerosol application or direct pest injection.

They must be applied strictly according to label instructions – any over-application will harm the environment, and a pest control license is required to use them.

Fumigation requires a pest controller to pump gas (usually sulfuryl fluoride) into infested areas, after which the doors are sealed and left for several hours. This kills everything inside that was exposed to the gas, but it can take up to six weeks before pest numbers drop to acceptable levels.

Aerosol pest control is just as it sounds: pest control companies spray insecticide through vents, windows and other entry points into the structure infested with rodents. Guidance must be followed closely to ensure effective pest removal as over-application can cause the death of non-target species such as birds or lizards that enter the building.

Direct pest injection is similar to aerosol pest control, but it uses gas cartridges inserted into the pest entry points of an infested structure. The cartridges are then punctured, and pest control Ellenbrook operators retreat the space after some time has passed (see above).

Bait can be used on all pest traps to tempt pest rodents inside and kill them. The most common types of pest bait used include:

cereal-based such as rolled oats, bran or muesli;

vegetative matter containing seeds that pest rodents will eat, such as sunflower or pumpkin seeds; and

wet dog food works well for rats and mice. 

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