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Rodent Control for the Small Restaurant Owner

Updated on March 22, 2013

Keeping Mice and Rats in Check Starts with Insect Control

One of the surprising facts about rodent control in restaurants is that it is almost impossible to keep mice and rats out if you let insects in. That is because a mouse or a rat will feed on bugs outdoors, and follow them inside your restaurant if you don't do regular insect extermination.

It's precisely the places that are hardest to reach where it's most important to keep bugs under control.

Even if your restaurant is squeaky clean, it is necessary to keep insect harbors insect-free. You can easily do this yourself, but it is absolutely essential to control insects in hidden places. This doesn't just keep them out of your food storage and food prep areas, but also prevents them from providing food to mice and rats.

Make Sure Your Kitchen Door Fits Properly

After you take care of insect control, so you can be sure that you aren't inviting rodents to feed even in a clean kitchen, the next essential is making sure that the door from your kitchen to the outside fits properly. It only takes a crack ¼ inch (6 mm) wide to let a house mouse inside your establishment, and it only takes a crack ½ inch (12 mm) wide to let a rat inside your kitchen. If you live in the US, your health inspector will probably look for openings the size of a dime as potential mouse doorways and openings the size of a quarter as passageways for rats.

The outside door is the most common entry point for rodents. Warped doors simply have to be replaced. A swinging door needs to have a vinyl or rubber seal at the bottom. Brush strip seals also work, but any missing brushes have to be replaced. If you have an overhead garage-style door to the outside, it needs to fit the frame precisely and it must have compression seals at both the top and bottom.

Prevent Rodent Entry Through Toilets

Nothing leads to the closure of a restaurant faster than a rat emerging through the toilet as it is being used by a customer. Plastic one-way rodent-proofing valves can be used in toilets to keep rodents from coming into your restaurant through bathroom plumbing. Hardware stores usually carry them. They are manufactured by the J. T. Eaton Company of Twinsburg, Ohio. Regular flushing simply is not enough to keep determined rats out of the plumbing, especially in the older parts of most cities and towns.

Keep Trash Bins Closed and Clean Up Spills

It is always easier to keep rodents out of your restaurant if you don't provide them with an all-you-can-eat buffet. As long as you have the lights on and you have workers in your kitchen, it's almost certainly OK (unless you have a rodent infestation so severe you really should not have your restaurant open) to put food scraps in refuse bins without stopping to close the lid after every deposit. At the end of the business day, however, it is essential that any trash containers have their lids tightly closed, whether inside or outside your establishment.

It is also important to pick up spilled trash and grease outside your restaurant. The farther rats and mice have to travel away from your restaurant to get a meal, the less likely you are to have them inside.

Make Sure Vents Are Screened

Another favorite entryway for rats and mice is the ventilation shaft. It's vital to have all vents screened with mesh that is smaller than ¼ inch (6 mm) to keep rodents out. Check all vents once a year to make sure there are no holes in their screens. And be especially sure that the toilet pipe on your roof (the pipe that equalizes air pressure in the sewer line so sewage doesn't float back up the toilets) is above your roof and screened at all time. A toilet vent that opens in an attic is a sure way to acquire a massive infestation with mice or rats.

Try Not to Rely on Traps

At the very first sign of a rodent infestation, it is absolutely necessary to set out traps. Always use more traps than you think you need, about six traps to catch a single mouse or rat.

The challenge of using mousetraps and rat traps in an eating establishment is that you can't really have a rotting rodent lingering in a trap you failed to inspect. If you use traps, put them everywhere a rodent might possibly travel and put them out in pairs. Check them every six hours, and dispose of any killed rodents in the trap, wrapping both rodent and trap in plastic, immediately. Rodents are cannibals, and an unattended kill will serve as a meal for the next rodent that comes along.

This isn't a comprehensive guide to rodent control for restaurant owners, but if you wanted more detailed information you can visit to get more pest control tips. If you take care of these basic steps you can avoid that one encounter with a mouse or rat that ruins your reputation or that rodent infestation that overwhelms your budget.


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      Charles Clayton 2 years ago

      Incidently, I found this hub while searching new techniques for mice control. Although, I am pest control professional, it is great that people will go with very old technique - trapping for rodent control.

    • pestcontrolproduc profile image

      pestcontrolproduc 5 years ago

      That's right, having a named person responsible is the key to success.

    • AngloPestControl profile image

      Gavin Lindsay 5 years ago from Scotland

      Lots of good info in this hub, especially the bit about regularly checking traps. Things like that can often get forgotten about for a while because of the day-to-demands of running a restaurant. It's important someone takes ownership of any pest problems and follows through with the necessary actions.